From 0 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds, Tesla’s new Model X has what they’re called a “Ludicrous Mode” that can accelerate you faster than most roller coasters. But that’s not the most exciting thing about this car.
We’ve broken this car down with science to show you what’s cool and what’s downright awesome about it.
Tesla Model X vs. Enzo Ferrari
Tesla Motors launched the Model X, the company’s first SUV, on Tuesday. You can now order one for $US132,000.
To be fair, the Model X is only the third-fastest accelerating Tesla vehicle available, but it has accelerations that rival this Enzo Ferrari (below), which can get you from 0 to 60 mph in 3.14 seconds — just 0.06 seconds faster than the Model X.
Let’s use basic physics to see the difference you would actually feel if you were in a Model X vs. the Farrari after punching the gas.
The force (F) that you feel pushing you back in your seat in any accelerating vehicle can be calculated using the equation in Newton’s second law: F=ma where:
- “F” is the force you feel
- “m” is your mass
- and “a” is acceleration, which is your change in velocity per unite time expressed as vf – vi/t
In the Model X an average 150-lb. person would feel:
- m=150 lbs (68 kg) ; a=(26.8 meters per second – 0)/(3.2 sec) = 8.4 m/s2
- F=(68 kg)(8.4 m/s2) = 569.5 Newtons or 128 pounds
For the Ferrari you’ve got the same calculation except the acceleration is slightly faster, which gives you a force of about 130.5 pounds.
What this means is that you would feel like someone had placed an extra 128 lbs on top of you in the Model X and an extra 130.5 lbs in the Ferrari.
This is a relatively insignificant difference; if you were blind-folded, you couldn’t tell if you were in the Tesla Model X or the Ferrari. Pretty impressive!
For comparison, astronauts thundering through the atmosphere on an exploding rocket feel about three times their body weight, or on average 700 pounds of force, which makes it difficult to move and even breathe.
When it comes to speed, one of the main obstacles working against you is air resistance. If you’ve ever ridden a bike against a strong head wind, you’ve experienced this.
Air resistance, also called drag, becomes more of a problem the faster your speed. But you can counteract drag with shape and materials that are especially drag resistant. Tesla’s Model X is especially aerodynamic, meaning that Tesla has engineered the vehicle with a shape that cuts through the air like a hot knife through butter.
“At 0.24, Model X’s drag coefficient is 20% lower than the next best SUV,” Tesla states on their website.
This is important because the faster you go, the greater drag your vehicle must fight, and the more power you have to spend to maintain your speed. In fact, the amount of power you need is the cube of your speed, so if you double your speed, then you have to use eight times more power to maintain that speed.
For example, if it costs you 20 horsepower to go 50 mph, then it will take 160 horsepower to go 100 mph.
With its super-sleek design, Tesla’s all-electric SUV can travel at top speeds of 155 mph for 250 miles at a time — longer than the length of the entire state of Ohio!
About 30% of all car accident deaths are from rollovers — when the vehicle overturns onto its roof. Tall, narrow vehicle, like SUVs, vans, and trucks have a higher risk of rolling over than cars because their center of gravity is farther from the ground.
The center of gravity refers to a single location on any object that acts as a balancing point, and the closer an object’s center of gravity is to the ground, the less likely it is to rotate, or in the case of vehicles roll.
Tesla’s Model X has the lowest center-of-gravity of any vehicle in its class, according to Popular Science, and therefore “the risk of rollover is about half that of any vehicle in its class,” Tesla states on their website. After government testing is complete, Tesla expects their Model X to be the safest SUV on the market, Popular Science reports.
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