Official photos from the company have now confirmed that the new, mildly-refreshed 2017 Model S now adopts a noticeably reduced front-panel grill than the original design that launched in September 2012, more closely resembling the Model X crossover SUV that launched in September 2015.
From a technical standpoint, electric vehicles do not actually need front-panel grills because they do not have radiators, and any motor cooling components are usually placed elsewhere in the chassis. As the story goes, some argue from a psychological standpoint that many people view cars as having “faces.” In this case, owning a Tesla or any other electric vehicle without a grille is basically like owning a car without a “nose.”
Tesla's Model S refresh and Model X now feature similar front grill designs
Tesla's Model S 2017 refresh, featuring a redesigned front grille similar to that of the Model X crossover SUV
Tesla's Model X crossover SUV, released September 2015. Nearly 2,700 units have been sold as of April 2016
Back in April 2009, Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen said the company wanted to make the car “more approachable” to customers, and explained that some current EV designs have a tendency to be too futuristic and alienating. The Model S is timelessly modern, yet classic according to Holzhausen.
Tesla Model S 2017 refresh poster sighted at a company retail store in Australia
Originally discovered by reddit user alexeiw123, a poster of the refreshed 2017 Model S was spotted in Australia yesterday showing a redesigned front-facing grill very similar to the one found on the higher-priced Tesla Model X crossover SUV, which was introduced in September 2015.
A few hours later, the company indeed updated its online design studio to reflect the changes to the 2017 Model S, taking several notable design hints from its Model X crossover SUV.
In many cases, a vehicle’s grille is often the company’s trademark and is an easy way to identify automotive makers in day-to-day traffic. Tesla’s original Model S grille is very distinguishable, just like the one found on the Ford Fusion and various BMW and Mercedes model lineups. Meanwhile Tesla’s recently announced Model 3, the younger sibling in the pack, does not feature a “nose” and this is currently the vehicle’s most controversial feature. This is despite the vehicle receiving over 325,000 reservations in its first week of pre-orders.
Tesla Model 3 unveiling on March 31st (via AutoBlog.com)
It is possible that the company has decided to switch to a smaller front grille in order to unify the face of its brand image, at least on its higher-priced Model S and Model X vehicles.
Tesla Model S refresh now includes option for "Bioweapon Defense Mode"
Tesla's "Bioweapon Defense Mode" is a $3,000 expansion feature including a High Efficiency Particle Attenuation (HEPA) filter that the company claims will remove all but 0.03% of particulate matter from inside the vehicle cabin
Another new feature given to the 2017 Model S refresh is the “Bioweapon Defense Mode” currently featured on the Model X crossover SUV. As some journalists claim, this is Tesla’s “single most ridiculous feature” and is basically a High Efficiency Particle Attenuation (HEPA) air filter that prevents 99.97 percent of ozone particles from reaching the inside of the vehicle. If this $3,000 USD (€2,639 euros) expansion feature doesn’t speak volumes about the prevalence of obsessive compulsive disorder within Tesla’s design team and among some of its customers, we honestly don’t know what will.
Base price has increased from $70,000 to $71,500
Tesla Model S refresh in the online Tesla Motors design studio
In terms of pricing, Tesla has also increased the base price on the Model S refresh by $1,500, bringing the vehicle’s starting price up to $71,500 USD (€62,885 euros) instead of $70,000 USD (€61,566 euros). Model S and Model X are currently manufactured on the same platform and both are now available for customization via Tesla’s website.