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Tesla's mystery test car may be a Model S refresh

It'd be the first conspicuous change to the car since 2016.
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Roberto Baldwin/Engadget

For the most part, Tesla's Model S has maintained a familiar look since it was introduced in 2012 -- the largest external change was the elimination of the fake grille back in 2016. There might be a refresh looming on the horizon, however. A driver near Tesla's Hawthorne design studio spotted a mysterious test car that he suspected might be a refreshed Model S design. While the car's wrapping and the brevity of the encounter prevented gathering many details, the observer noted "bigger" headlights as well as taillights that weren't present on other Tesla cars.

If you're wondering, it didn't appear to be a Model Y -- the upcoming crossover has lights like those on the Model 3, not to mention a conspicuously raised rear end that wasn't present here.

There is the possibility that this is just a "sloppy wrapping job," as the eyewitness initially suspected. That doesn't line up with the different taillights, though, and rumors of Model S and Model X refreshes have swirled for months. If this is indeed a hint at an upcoming design update, it would come at a good time. S and X sales have been falling sharply in the wake of widespread Model 3 availability. Spruced-up designs could revitalize interest from those who'd otherwise buy high-end Model 3 trims, not to mention give Tesla a better chance of fending off competition from the likes of Audi and Mercedes.

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