SAN FRANCISCO -- Goodbye, grille.
Tesla Motors on Tuesday introduced the first major styling update for the Model S since its launch in 2012, scrapping the electric sedan’s signature blacked-out nose cone for a smooth, grille-free look similar to that of the Model X crossover.
By their nature, electric cars have no need for a grille because there is no engine under the hood to cool. The decision to remove the grille from the nose of the Model S suggests the demands of the internal-combustion engine may no longer hold such power over expectations for car design -- at least among Tesla customers.
Also on Tuesday, the Palo Alto, California, automaker opened an online “design studio” for a cheaper version of the Model X with a base price of $80,000 with shipping. The cheapest version of the crossover, dubbed the 75D, has a 75-kilowatt-hour battery pack offering 237 miles of range and a 0-to-60-mph (97kph) time of 6 seconds.
Pricing for the Model S, which starts at $71,500 in the U.S. with a 70-kilowatt-hour battery pack and a rear-wheel-drive configuration, remains unchanged after the face-lift.
However, Tesla upgraded the standard charger in the Model S from 40 amps to 48 amps for quicker recharging and added, as an option, a HEPA-rated air filtration system already available on the Model X crossover.
The air filtration system, which has a maximum setting called “bioweapon defense mode,” is part of a $3,000 premium upgrade package that also includes leather seats, upgraded LED lighting and a power liftgate.
Tesla is building the freshened Model S at its factory in Fremont, California, with deliveries beginning in May for new orders.
The company is offering a May delivery for customers who place a new order for the Model X in top-of-the-line 90D and P90D trims. Deliveries of the 75D will follow starting in June.