Tesla’s Model S design hasn’t really changed much since 2016, but it appears poised for an (arguably overdue) update. According to Electrek, The Kilowatts have spotted what appears to be a Model S design refresh roaming around Palo Alto. At first glance, it’s a more aggressively styled car with a wider body with more pronounced fender and wider hips. The manufacturer-operated car also looked like it had revised wheels, lights and an updated rear diffuser.
It’s not certain if there are any internal changes. Tesla hopes to deliver its more powerful, longer-ranged Model S Plaid in late 2021, but the vehicle you see here isn’t necessarily a prototype of that car — it could be a tweak that arrives independently of larger under-the-surface revisions. Tesla has a history of decoupling design and technological changes (self-driving hardware arrived roughly half a year after the April 2016 refresh, for example).
The absence of camouflage and other attempts to mask the design suggests you might not have to wait long if this is indicative of a new design.
It could be an important change even if there aren’t many functional changes. Tesla has a number of challenges ahead if it’s going to top its production of 500,000 cars in 2020, and that includes rejuvenating sales of higher-end EVs like the Model S. Although the S doesn’t sell in large numbers, it’s the company’s current “halo” car (at least until the new Roadster arrives) and serves as a counter to higher-end offerings from German automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Any boost to Model S sales could improve Tesla’s overall business.