There have been some rumors and leaks suggesting that Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) was about to refresh its flagship Model S sedan, alongside a potential price increase. Well, the electric automaker has done just that. Tesla updated its design studio this morning to reflect the changes, and the slightly refreshed Model S takes some notable design cues from the Model X SUV.
Bringing it back to Model S
The most notable change is the front nose cone. Tesla has removed the black plastic faux grille and replaced it with the minimal look of the Model X. There don't appear to be any other exterior changes or redesigns beyond that.
On the inside, Tesla began integrating a center console last month that's also similar to the one found in Model X. Historically, Tesla has left the space empty in order to showcase the lack of a traditional drivetrain. Tesla is also bringing its hospital-grade HEPA air filtration system to the Model S, which debuted on Model X late last year. Model S will also receive adaptive LED headlights.
As far as the price increase is concerned, Tesla has bumped up the price point by a modest $1,500. The base single-motor 70 now starts at $71,500 instead of $70,000. Considering the fact that the average Model S buyer options the car up to six figures, a $1,500 bump for a refreshed version seems manageable.
Farewell, faux grille
Tesla originally included the faux grille to make the Model S look more familiar, even though EVs have no need for a grille. Design chief Franz von Holzhausen has said that they wanted to make the car more approachable, and some EV designs tend to be too futuristic and alienating. But as consumers begin to warm to EVs, it seems that Tesla is becoming more comfortable with stepping away from the faux-grille look in favor of more distinctly EV features.
Early versions of the Model X featured the faux grille, but Tesla launched the SUV without it. Tesla also unveiled the Model 3 without a faux grille, and that vehicle was able to grab over 325,000 reservations in the first week (many of which reserved the car sight unseen). It makes sense to unify the aesthetics across the lineup and to give the Model S a minor facelift, particularly as the car initially launched in 2012 and is coming up on its fourth birthday. Design cycles in the auto industry tend to be around three to five years.
It's also possible that the tweaks will help Tesla streamline manufacturing, since Model S and Model X are built on the same platform.