Tesla expects to release their all-wheel drive, 7-passenger SUV/minivan crossover in Fall 2015. Others will follow, prices will fall, and going all-electric will soon be more viable.
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A week after we bought my all electric Nissan Leaf, my wife and I also purchased a brand new Nissan Pathfinder. We needed one vehicle capable of supporting a family road trip and with all-wheel or 4-wheel drive so we could use it as our primary skiing vehicle this winter. The Leaf isn’t capable of either at this point.
A few weeks ago my wife pointed out something that I hadn’t really thought about, but have since thought about a lot. Given how long we tend to keep our cars (10 years or so) and the pace of both development and deployment of all-electric vehicles, the Pathfinder may well be the last internal combustion engine vehicle we ever buy.
Look at Tesla for a moment. In 2012 they announced the Model X SUV/minivan crossover. It’s a 7-passenger vehicle with all-wheel drive provided by two independent electric motors, and it’ll have the same 200+ mile range per charge that a Model S does. It it weren’t for the expected price tag ($80k+), my wife and I would have seriously considered one instead of the Pathfinder had the Model X been available when we were looking at new cars.
We could drive from Denver to southern California via Tesla supercharger stations along I-70 and I-15 today. And if you look at Telsa’s supercharger map, you’ll see that nearly the entire continental United States is expected to be within range of a supercharger by the end of 2015.
Now imagine how many charging stations there will be in 10 years, not just Tesla’s proprietary superchargers, but of all varieties (and possibly of types not yet developed). New battery technology will be available that provide greater range and faster charging times. And while it takes years to take a new automobile from concept to mass production, it’s very unlikely that Tesla’s Model X will be the only all-electric SUV or minivan (or sports car, motorcycle, or station wagon) by then.
If, against all odds the Model X is still the only all-wheel drive available, my wife and I will probably seriously consider it. Assuming we could afford one, we’d then have to figure out something critical – is our garage tall enough for the gull-wing doors?