Tesla’s Silly Falcon Wing Doors Have One Great Function

It’s the doors that do it. I was pretty unimpressed by these Falcon Wing doors when the Tesla Model X debuted in 2015, writing them off as an expensive, complicated gimmick. The fact that the doors were a contributing factor in the Model X’s delayed arrival didn’t do them any favors in my eyes, either.

But when I was taking photos of this Model X P100D in a hip part of Brooklyn, every time I raised the doors, people stopped. A delivery truck driver said the X was “a sexy piece of ass you’ve got there,” while attendees of a nearby music festival stopped and took selfies. Toddlers and parents alike looked on in amazement at the bizarre mechanical symphony of the doors going up and down.

I wasn’t expecting this. The Model X has been with us for nearly three years now; in a place like New York City, they’re not uncommon. And I struggle to call it pretty. It features lots of nice details, but to be perfectly honest, I think it looks like an egg from many angles.

All I see is a frumpy family transporter. And yet, with the falcon doors, the Model X gets attention like a supercar. And that could be Tesla’s greatest achievement yet.

When you work as a journalist, it’s easy to have a somewhat jaded view of Elon Musk’s electric car company. We watch Tesla closely, as it burns through cash and continues to struggle to build the entry-level Model 3 on schedule, while Musk wages war on anyone publishing less-than-glowing Tesla coverage and works on unrelated projects you might consider distracting.

Eventually, all mainstream automakers will offer EVs, but would they have done so this quickly were it not for Tesla? In a remarkably short time, Tesla has established itself as a serious player in the auto world, and forced electric cars into the public consciousness. It created an incredibly exciting environment.

Tesla’s future looks uncertain today. It might have flashy new products in the pipeline—the Semi, the Model Y crossover, and the new Roadster—but it faces huge challenges in trying to become profitable while ramping up Model 3 production. But whether or not Tesla itself weathers this storm, its impact will be felt for a long time. You can thank the doors for that.