Ever since the Tesla Model Y crossover’s unveiling, its maker has been as silent as an electric motor on cruise control about the upcoming EV. Besides the basics that Elon Musk shared at the reveal, we’ve seen scant information or updates to appease our curiosity for the anticipated EV. There haven’t even been many photos besides the handful which accompanied the press release—until now, as we bring you exclusive shots of a Model Y prototype in the wild.
A sharp-eyed neighbor of the company’s Palo Alto, California, office spotted the all-black vehicle out for testing. The first photos show the car turning left from Arastradero Road onto Purisma Road, a popular connection to some of the surrounding hills’ best, curviest avenues. Two presumed Tesla engineers are in the front seats; the passenger seems engrossed by data displayed on an unseen computer screen. The next pictures are taken from farther away, and show the same (or a very similar) vehicle entering the company parking lot.
What can be gained from our exclusive Model Y pictures? Mainly, a better look at what we’ve seen before, although some changes are present. The car looks essentially like a taller Model 3; it’s likely the two will share some body panels and componentry. The rear diffuser, however, seems to be of a new design compared to what was shown at launch. Those aerodynamic wheels aren’t an option on the online configurator. Visible against the black paint is a Dual Motor badge on the trunk. Judging by the absence of the Performance model’s red brake calipers, we’d guess this is a tester for the Long Range AWD version, rated at 280 miles per charge. Also noteworthy is the presence of black door handles, in contrast to the Model 3’s chrome units—a subtle, yet appreciable, design differentiator.
Continuing Tesla’s typical modus operandi (reveal first, develop second), it looks like this Model Y isn’t quite ready for the mainstream. We note the wavered alignment between the front of the hood and the bumper, as well as the large gap at the base of the A-pillar. It also seems the window trim may not be entirely consistent. Regardless, this tester shows that the Model Y is in advanced stages of calibration before it hits the production line. We’re confident it’ll be just as much of a segment disruptor—and a great driver—as its counterparts. Check out the gallery to see everything we spotted.