Tesla doesn’t follow the usual model year update like the rest of the auto industry. With the exception of a somewhat significant Model S exterior/fascia refresh in 2016, Tesla instead gradually introduces relatively small improvements whenever they are ready for production.
WIth those incremental updates adding up, Tesla currently considers the Model S to be on its third generation in just about 6 years.
Electrek has now learned some exclusive internal information about Tesla’s plan for the next Model S and Model X generation with a big interior design refresh.
The Tesla community has been expecting an interior design refresh for the Model S and Model X as soon as by the end of this year.
Some are saying that it is long overdue, but we’ve now learned that Tesla is actually not planning to start production on the new design until another full year (Q3 2019), according to sources familiar with the matter.
Tesla is in the middle of its evolution from a small niche automaker into a full-fledged automaker with several high volume vehicle programs.
Just 3 years ago, Tesla had only one vehicle in production, but it now has 3 important vehicle programs in production and it is trying to establish some differentiation and cycles in its lineup.
According to documents reviewed by Electrek, Tesla plans for the interior design refresh to extend the life cycle of the current Model S and Model X programs until 2021.
Tesla wants Model S and Model X to remain its flagship vehicles during that time.
In order to achieve that, the automaker’s strategy is to ‘harmonize’ the interior with a similar look as the new interior introduced with the Model 3, but with some more premium materials and features.
The company expects that this “harmonization” will result in cost reduction and increase its gross margin on the Model S and Model X.
Tesla declined to comment on this report.
We will follow-up with another report about the actual new design shortly. Update: Exclusive first look at Tesla Model S and Model X interior refresh: going spartan like Model 3
This is somewhat surprising. We were expecting an interior design refresh by the end of 2018 perhaps to coincide with Supercharger V3, but we will have to wait another year.
At the same time, it is more understandable when looking at just how strong the demand for the Model S and Model X still is these days.
Many thought that the Model S interior was becoming stale after 6 years of only relatively incremental improvements and no significant design change. Some thought that a refresh would be needed for Tesla to keep selling the flagship sedan.
Yet, Tesla is still consistently selling about 2,000 Model S and Model X vehicles globally per week and with the phase-out of the federal tax credit in the US, Tesla is likely to still have strong demand for those vehicles in its biggest market for the next year as buyers take advantage of the credit before it goes away.
Basically, if you are in the market for a Model S or Model X in the US, you have to decide if you want that full $7,500 tax credit (or $3,750 during the first half of 2019) or choose to wait for the new interior design and get only $1,875.
My point is that Tesla doesn’t see a need to refresh those vehicles to keep demand up in the short-term, but that will change next year with the likely reduced tax credit and more competition.
Now we are only talking about an interior refresh, but Tesla could also be planning some powertrain upgrades, which we haven’t seen in a while for Model S and Model X as Tesla has been focused on Model 3.
It also makes sense to plan for the next big generational change for the Model S and Model X in 2021. That’s 5 years after the Model S exterior design refresh and about 6 years after the launch of the Model X.
At that time, Tesla should be done with bringing to market Model Y, Tesla Semi, and the next-gen Roadster. It would make sense to show some love to those vehicles at that point.
As for my thoughts on the actual design refresh itself, I’ll go into more with visuals in another post coming up shortly.