Tesla Said to Update Model S, and Raise the Price

April 10, 2016, 4:22 PM UTC
A Tesla Model S P85d car is displayed at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai on April 20, 2015.
Photograph by Johannes Eisele — AFP/Getty Images

Just days after the historic and wildly successful unveiling of its mass-market Model 3 electric sedan, Elon Musk’s Tesla is preparing to announce updates to its high-end Model S. The changes will include both exterior restyling and updates to the interior, as well as a price increase, according to sources inside Tesla cited by Cnet. An official announcement could come within the next week.

The exterior changes will include new LED headlights, and a restyling of the nose to bring the design closer to the Model X and Model 3. Presumably that means something less rounded and more angular. There will also be more exterior color choices.

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On the inside, Cnet’s sources say that the luxury sedan’s front seats will be replaced by those from the Model X SUV. The new Model S will also have more interior storage.

In a statement, Tesla (TSLA) did confirm that price changes would be coming in April, but declined to comment on the substance of any design changes.

The changes would make sense for several reasons. As a luxury car, the Model S appeals to owners who want to have the latest and greatest, so even slight tweaks will bring some existing owners of the now four-year-old S back for a second helping. And with the Model 3 headed to market, making the S more luxurious (and more expensive) will help maintain that car’s sense of exclusivity against its less-expensive sibling.

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Finally, an improved interior in particular will head off a potential trap built by Tesla’s own success. The company has convinced the market that electric cars aren’t a novelty or niche product, but direct competitors to internal combustion vehicles. That means buyers are making more direct comparisons between the Model S and models like the Audi A-8 and the Mercedes S-Class – and at least sometimes, the Model S interior has been critiqued as a little spartan. So stepping the luxury up a notch is important to keeping Tesla dominant in the category.

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