Live from Tesla’s factory: It’s the Model X event

Sep 29, 2015

Tesla is holding a splashy event at its Fremont, Calif. factory right now to kick off deliveries of its Model X, an SUV that marks a major step forward for the electric carmaker beyond its existing line of sedans. See below for a full rundown of the presentation, including comments from CEO Elon Musk. (Be sure to refresh this page often for the latest updates).

10:47 p.m. (pst) And that's it everyone. The party rages on, the test drives continue, and people are still crowding around Elon's Model X. One final Model X photo, this one showing the gulf wing doors.

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10:43 p.m. (pst) Before we pack it in, here are a few more photos of the event, including this one of co-founder and CTO J.B. Straubel and family. The Model X drove on stage towing an Airstream. In this photo, Musk is showing just how much can fit in the Model X.

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10:30 p.m. (pst) The party is still rocking and test drives of the Model X are underway. I had a chance to drive the Model X earlier today. I also drove a Porsche Cayenne (provided by the Tesla folks) to compare the vehicles. Stay tuned for an article on how the two cars compare later this week.

A few final thoughts (at least for now): this is not an SUV and it's not a sedan. It's something else. And it's packed with features, including a HEPA filter that's so big it looks like it belongs in a house, not a car. The primary filter is enormous, and there's secondary filter too. And because Tesla likes to inject a little fun into their cars (the volume goes to 11 in the Model S, for instance, in a nod to This is Spinal Tap), the Model X's HVAC has a bioweapon defense mode button to illustrate just how powerful the HEPA filter system is. Here's a photo to give you all an idea of the size of the filter.

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All of these features are great for Model X owners, but they present some real challenges for Tesla and Musk's goal of delivering 55,000 vehicles (X and S) by the end of the year.

10:23 p.m. (pst) So, remember all those folks rushing on stage to see Elon's Model X? There's still a crowd. And earlier, there were two lines on either end of the stage. Here's one of the lines.

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10:01 p.m. (pst) Tesla knows how to throw a party.

Tesal Model X Photo courtesy of Fortune. 

10:00 p.m. And another party post. Can you grab us a beer?:

At the Model X launch event, an open bar.  Photo courtesy of Fortune 

9:37 p.m. So many people are trying to see Elon Musk's own personal Model X car that an announcement was made that the stage is at capacity.

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Photo courtesy of Fortune.
9:29 p.m. We'll have a more in-depth hands-on with the car later tonight, but this is a sneak peak:
20150929_163908 Photo Kirsten Korosec, Fortune 

9:23 p.m. Tesla's early investors Ira Ehrenpreis and Steve Jurvetson took the stage to take their Model X cars. Musk said he would be taking his car next.

9:20 p.m. "We made an accessories hitch that can hold bikes or skies," says Musk. A kid— which may be a random kid or may be Musk's kid—took the stage and added the hitch.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.20.22 PM

9:17 p.m. Tesla's second row seats were a huge effort from Tesla for the Model X. "It could be the best second row seats in a car ever," says Musk.

Model Tesla Photo courtesy of Fortune 

9:11 p.m. Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicks off explaining the new features of the Model X:

8:54 p.m. What song will announce Elon's arrival? Right now they're cranking tunes from Blondie. One excited Tesla owner just looked at his smart watch turned to me and said ten more minutes. I heard Elon is coming out at 9 pm pst. Needless to say rumors are rampant.

Elon Musk at Tesla' Model X launch on September 29Elon Musk at Tesla' Model X launch on September 29.  Photo courtesy of Fortune 

8:41 p.m. We're inside, folks. The music is cranked up and workers are still messing around with the stage. The main crowd is actually separated from the reporters. One reporter wondered out loud if the guests will rush the stage once the main partition is raised. Who knows.

Crowd to watch Tesla's Model X.Crowd to watch Tesla's Model X. Photo 

It's really like waiting for a Rock Star in general admission and you're the lucky one at the front of the stage. A Tesla exec just joked to me: "We're about to get crushed" as a big mass of people moved into the main room. Do I stay upfront or retreat to the safety of the press area. I think I'll stay.

8:30 p.m. The media is filing in now. It's actually quite the walk, which is a good reminder about just how big this factory is. We're behind a curtain and the music is pumping (of the dance mix variety) and the crowd, which we can't see, is loud, to say the least.

8:18 p.m. We're queuing up folks! The barbarians (or press) are at the gate (which is really just a door into the event space), but it sounds so much more dramatic this way.

8:15 p.m. Elon has us locked in a reporter prison right now that's filled with cheese, crackers, fruit, some random veggie rollups and wine—of course. Reporters, myself included are getting restless. We know it's been delayed, but for how long?

7:38 p.m. I've been offered wine, but, folks, I'm gonna pass. There's just too much Model X data to digest. [Editor's note: She's taking one for the team, as we've heard Tesla's open bar is pretty solid].

7:30 p.m. It's about a half hour before the show and I'm inside the venue. Reporters are spread throughout two rooms equipped with Wi-Fi, refreshments, and cushy sofas. There isn't any lounging around, though. Tesla CEO Elon Musk did hold a briefing with reporters, including Fortune, and a lot of ground was covered. But we're going to have to stay tuned for the details for a bit longer.

Guests have been arriving through the main lobby for a while now, but aren't officially invited into the main event space.

7:09 p.m. The doors have yet to open, but anticipation is high. Meanwhile, here's my press badge, the only photo I'm allowed to take inside the factory (for now).

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5:00 p.m. Here's a fun fact: Since Tesla revealed an early prototype of the Model X at least 20,000 people have plunked down $5,000 to secure a reservation for the crossover sport utility vehicle with falcon-winged rear doors and seating for seven.

3:20 p.m. In the meantime, here's a little history on the Tesla's Fremont factory. In 1962, General Motors opened up the factory and operated it as an assembly plant for two decades. After closing in 1982, it reopened as NUMMI, or New United Motor Manufacturing, a joint partnership between GM and Toyota. NUMMI produced 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles weekly.

Tesla Motor Co's Plant exterior Fremont

GM filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and the factory shut down because Toyota couldn't sustain it on its own. NUMMI was looking to sell the factory in 2009 and even considered giving it away for free to the city of Fremont to get it off their tax books, according to Tesla. The factory was valued between $1.3 billion, and Tesla purchased it from Toyota for $42 Million in 2010.

The factory is 5.3 million square feet and located on a 370-acre property.

As if that wasn't enough space, Tesla signed a lease in June for a more than 500,000-square-foot facility at 901 Page Ave., less than three miles from the company’s Fremont factory. This vacant facility used to house Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel maker and one-time darling of the federal loan guarantee program. Last year, Tesla purchased another 431,000-square-foot building in Lathrop, Calif., a town located near Stockton in the Central Valley, as a castings, machining, and foundry center.

Tesla (tsla) shut down the Fremont plant briefly in August 2014 to retool the factory, increase production, and make room for Model X.

3 p.m.: Tesla's Model X event, as Fortune colleague Katie Fehrenbacher has explained, is hugely important for the company. We'll be speaking with CEO Elon Musk and getting a close look at the car. Stay tuned for the details.

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