AUTOS

Tesla delivered only 6 Model X SUVs -- and Elon Musk took one for himself

Tesla Motors' new all-electric Model X sport utility vehicle gets to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.

But it might not get to your driveway any time soon.

Despite two years of delays, and an extravagant public unveiling late Thursday, the Palo Alto automaker has delivered only five of the futuristic, falcon-winged crossovers — or six, if you count Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, who got Model X No. 1.

Tesla won't say when it might have more or how many its Fremont factory can churn out.

That's sour news for Howard Ganz, who is Model X customer No. 2084. He put a deposit down almost three years ago.

“The car looks amazing!” Ganz said after watching a live stream of the Model X unveiling Tuesday night. “But it would be nice to actually get in and drive it.”

Tesla originally said it would start manufacturing the Model X at the end of 2013, with sales to begin last year.

Ganz, 59, was an early adopter. He put down a $5,000 deposit in December 2012. The Santa Monica resident, who drives an all-electric Nissan Leaf, originally wanted a Model S sport sedan, the only available model.

But when he heard about the crossover, he shifted his deposit. He's been waiting ever since.

Whenever he checks in to the My Tesla section on the company website, he finds a message reading, “You will be contacted in order of your reservation....”

While he waits, he wonders what the car will cost him, once it's his turn to tell Tesla how he'd like it configured.

Analyst Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book posited that Musk, having already delayed the arrival of the Model X, was determined to begin deliveries by the fall — even if he couldn't deliver a whole lot of them.

“We knew it was supposed to go on sale in the third quarter, and there was pressure on him not to delay it any more,” Brauer said. “But I wonder how many vehicles are actually available. Apple, to which Tesla is often compared, doesn't put an iPhone on sale when just one is available.”

So far, Tesla has only released pricing for the Model X Signature, the series' specially badged, fully loaded cars. They start at $132,000.

Musk previously said the regular X would start at about $5,000 more than a comparably equipped Model S sedan.

The base model for that all-wheel-drive vehicle starts at $76,200 — before a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars and California's $2,500 rebate — but the average transaction price is about $100,000.

That would put the starting price of a Model X at about $81,200 before incentives.

But the automaker's website, which customers use to configure their vehicles and add or subtract options and accessories, doesn't reveal much about the vehicle. Customers can place an order for a Model X — as long as they deposit the minimum $5,000 — but can't configure a car or get a final price.

Tesla might be so far away from putting the model into meaningful production and sales that Musk doesn't yet know what the price will ultimately be, said Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners who is shorting Tesla's stock, a bet that pays off if Tesla shares fall. Tesla shares closed up Wednesday $1.75 at $248.40.

Ganz is excited about the prospect of owning his own X but doesn't know how much he'll have to pay for it. “It would be nice to have more information about the car,” he said. “Especially before I commit whatever amount I'm going to be committing — because it's going to be a lot.”

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Tesla did announce during the Tuesday night presentation that the X accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds — fast for a vehicle that weighs 5,441 pounds — and will have a 5,000-pound towing capacity. It comes standard with automatic emergency braking and side collision avoidance technology to prevent accidents. Its sound system boasts 17 speakers.

What it doesn't have is a delivery date, or any information about vehicle production rates.

Tesla has said cars ordered now will be delivered in the second half of 2016.

On Wednesday, Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn declined to provide more specific production or delivery estimates.

“Right now we're focused on delivering Signature Model X to customers,” she said. “We'll have more information to share in the coming months.”

The company has told investors it will make about 50,000 cars this year, mostly Model S sedans, with a plan to increase that to 85,000 to 90,000 vehicles next year.

Ganz is trying to be patient.

“I definitely want the car, but I want it to be working the way Elon wants it to work,” he said. “I don't want it before it's ready.”

Brauer said this type of slow roll out won't work when its finally time for Tesla to deliver its proposed Model 3 — the $35,000 electric car Musk has promised to begin building and delivering in 2017.

By then, Brauer said, Tesla will not be the only company offering a high-volume, low-cost battery electric car.

“What does this bode for the car that's supposed to be Tesla's real cash cow?” Brauer asked. “Will customers for that car wait a year, or a year and a half, when by that time you'll be able to get a Chevy Bolt that will offer many of the same values at about the same price?”

charles.fleming@latimes.com

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:07 p.m.: Updates with additional details and background.

Originally posted at 9:46 a.m.

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