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2021 Tesla Model S Plaid prototype spotted in Palo Alto, CA (pics, video)

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An odd-looking Tesla Model S was spotted cruising the highways surrounding the Tesla HQ in Palo Alto, California last week. Some changes in the design elements of the exterior and possibly the interior suggest this is probably the Plaid Tesla Model S prototype with the design refresh long due on Tesla.

Tesla owner, enthusiast, and YouTuber ‘The Kilowatts’ spotted this somewhat strange Model S coming from the front while driving in California. The next thing he decided was to chase this Tesla Model S which apparently had different headlights.

Upon following the car and later on extracting the dashcam footage from the front Autopilot camera, the car did actually looked different than a regular Model S.

Possible 2021 Tesla Model S design refresh prototype. A close view of the rear end shows a wider body. Source: @klwtts / Twitter.

Looking at this Tesla Model S prototype from behind (above photo), the rear fascia has several subtle changes besides the more noticeable additional width — looks really fat and that’s a good thing, IMO. The taillights are the same as the current version but might change as the car gets closer to production.

The trim across both taillights is now black instead of chrome as Tesla is moving away from chrome trims all around since the Model Y launch and the 2021 Tesla Model 3 refresh.

The rear diffuser now has two reflectors that are not present in any previous Tesla Model S version or the minor design refreshes the automaker has been doing over the years. 2021 seems to be the perfect time to redesign the car that kick-started the EV revolution back in 2012.

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Additionally, the wheels and tires seen on this prototype Model S 2.0 are super-wide. My friend and tire guru Ian Pavelko closely looked at the tires and predicted these are either

The tires do indeed look to have a pattern similar to the ones seen on the prototypes, either Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3Rs or Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s.

Ian Pavelko aka Mad Hungarian on Twitter

Tesla has been taking pre-orders for the Plaid Model S for a while now and the automaker’s online car configurator is showing ‘Late 2021’ as the delivery timeline. But officially, Tesla has not admitted to bringing any design changes for the exterior nor has Elon Musk denied it.

For the interior, however, Musk has acknowledged in the past that all future Tesla car models will have the same type of center touchscreen display as first seen in the Tesla Model 3 — yes the popped-out tablet-like screen.

Some Tesla enthusiasts pointed out the possible wider screen on this Model S prototype by zooming in on the photo through the rear window and adding some brightness. The screen does look in wide format but not exactly popped out like the Model 3.

The first Tri-Motor Plaid prototypes tested at the Nürburgring last year apparently had the Model 3/Y type center display as mentioned in my above tweet and the report I posted at the time.

For the price of $144,490, the performance of Tesla Model S Plaid will shame the million-dollar internal combustion engine (ICE) supercars with a sub 2.0 sec 0-60 mph time, much improved quarter-mile times, and a top speed of 200 mph.

Not just that but with the tri-motor drivetrain, the handling and torque-vectoring abilities of this car will be unmatched by any ICE production car.

Integrating Tesla’s latest battery tech using the 4680 cells + the structural battery pack, Model S Plaid will be able to deliver an estimated 520+ miles (~837 km) of range for a full charge. This range is a far cry even for pure electric vehicle makers as of now.

Let’s watch this new Model S Plaid prototype moving towards the Tesla HQ in the following video by The Kilowatts.

Update: Tesla has launched the Model S Plaid with design refresh (get the full details).

From the video description:

The car we saw has new headlights, a new wider body including slightly more flared out fenders and wider hips in the rear. This Model S also had (almost) all of its chrome deleted in favor of a black finish and a new set of performance looking wheels. About a year ago, Tesla raced to prepare a few of their existing vehicles to set some records at Laguna Seca Raceway and the Nürburgring and this, according to our dashcam footage and spy shots, looks like it is a more refined, consumer-ready version of that car. The only item missing is a rear wing or spoiler to maintain downforce on the track.

The Kilowatts / YouTube.

Although I think the front fascia is not radically different from the current version we shouldn’t be considering this to be the final design. Seems like Elon Musk and his team at Tesla are convinced that making gradual design changes vs. a radical shift is a better decision in terms of cost and production hassles.

A Model S refresh design concept render also recently went viral that also shows design tweaks to the current design but still very much liked by the people of Tesla.

Tesla is most likely to make more changes in the Model S Plaid design, and we will be keeping you updated.

So stay tuned and follow us on:  Google News | Flipboard | RSS (Feedly)

By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii