Tesla Model S sedan and Model X SUV sales have been declining for about a year, and both vehicles are getting long in the tooth by automotive standards. The Model S debuted in 2012, while the Model X arrived in 2015.
Car makers usually refresh or redesign their vehicles every two-to-five years, but in Tesla's case, the updates to the Model S and Model X have been light.
This makes sense because the company's focus is now on its relatively new compact sedan, the Model 3, and forthcoming vehicles such as the Model Y crossover SUV and a pickup truck. Tesla doesn't really want to revamp S and X, so when Musk said last week on an earnings conference call that "they're really niche products," it was understandable.
"I mean, they're very expensive, made in low volume," he continued. "To be totally frank, we're continuing to make them more for sentimental reasons than anything else. They're really of minor importance to the future."
Perhaps, but they were of major importance to Tesla's past. I drove both, in several different versions, and if Tesla sunsets the vehicles, I'll miss them.
Here's a review of my S and X memories:
First up, the Model S.
The all-electric luxury sedan was Tesla's first clean-sheet design. It was named Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2013.
Tesla teased a "D" version of the Model S in 2014.
It turned out that the "D" was for "dual motor" — an all-wheel-drive version of the sedan.
With AWD came "Insane" and later "Ludicrous Mode" acceleration. The latter, in the top-spec P100D Model S, could outrun some supercars 0-60 mph.
When I visited Tesla's factory, I was treated to a few laps around its test track in a Model S.
I also drove the car myself, a number of times.
In a P90D, I made an ill-fated trip to upstate New York …
… Where I basically ran out of "gas." It was all my fault.
I also experienced Tesla Autopilot for the first time in a Model S. I don't advocate taking your hand off the wheel.
On to the Model X!
The Model X was actually unveiled when I still lived in Los Angeles …
… Several years before the 2015 launch. Yes, those Falcon Wing doors were a near-disaster for Tesla. Even Musk admitted that the SUV was too complicated.
I sampled the Model X for the first time in Manhattan.
Later, I used it to take my family on a 700-mile road trip.
Let's just say I had to nurture my patience with the recharge times, even at Tesla Superchargers.
The cargo capacity of the Model X is staggering …
… The front trunk, or "frunk," holds as much as the rear trunk in some cars.
The white interior is really something special. No wonder its so popular and coveted by Tesla owners and wannabe owners.
Both the Model S and the Model X have enormous central touchscreen infotainment systems.
I even checked out the Model S and Model X assembly line at Tesla's California factory. That's an engineer who designed a robot to help build the Model X.
If I had to choose, I've say I personally have the deepest sentimental attachment to the Model S. It was Tesla's first real car, and to this day, it's a triumph.
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This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).