Tesla Model X AWD Prototype Test Mule Spotted Testing (w/video)


With the Tesla Model X set to launch in the US before the end of 2014, we knew it was just a matter of time before a test mule was spotted on public roads.

Spotted it was, by several curious onlookers, including one who snapped a photo (image via Reddit) of it near the University of California

What you see here is a Tesla Model S fitted with additional weight up top to simulate the raised center of gravity of the Model X.

Those curious looking objects attached to the wheels allow Tesla to fine tune the AWD system that comes as standard on the Model X.  We’re certain there’s additional instrumentation within to calculate body movement and other parameters that Tesla will have to focus on in developing the Model X.

These images confirm that development of the Model X is moving along.  Once the powertrain is finalized and the suspension is tweaked to cope with the added weight, the skateboard platform will be married to the Model X body and then tested again.

Ignore the “autonomous” reference in the title of the video, as that’s clearly inaccurate:

More info, including additional images of the Model X test mule, can be found at this Tesla Motors Club thread.

Categories: Tesla, Videos

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

21 Comments on "Tesla Model X AWD Prototype Test Mule Spotted Testing (w/video)"

newest oldest most voted

Um… That’s a Model S. The X has different door handles, proportions, sheetmetal, etc.. Even says “S” on the rear hatch in the photo. 🙁

This is more likely the AWD drive version of the S, than an X prototype in its own right.

Yes, it’s a Model S body, but it’s all Model X underneath. The added weight up top is the dead giveaway. The higher center of gravity for the Model X means that to test it right, they need more weight up top on the Model S body.

If it were an AWD Model S, no weight would be added as all of the additional AWD components would themselves add the additional weight.

It’s not a real X until it wears its proper body. 😉

Until then, its “in transition”, like several of my friends. 😉

It was not called a Model X, but a ‘Model X test mule’. Do you know what a test mule is?

God no. I don’t raise farm animals… Please explain it to me. 🙂

I’ll let the explaining to the professionals 🙂


The Chevy Malibu acted as the Test Mule for the Chevy Volt when they where building it. Granted I think they should have made a plug in Chevy Malibu while they did this too along with the volt.

I still don’t understand how you fit the mule inside the Model S…

As the name implies it is sterile, beast of burden, and ornery as hell. I wonder if one has anything to do with the other.

Actually, I think the automotive term does stem from the biological mule, in that it is basically a combination (offspring) of two different models (species). Donkey and horse in the “taxonomic” world, and S and X in the Tesla-automotive world.

Ugh. This is like the Chevy Malibu that GM used as the test mule for the Volt drivetrain. It wasn’t a Chevy Malibu Prototype test mule just because it had a Malibu chassis. It was a Volt test mule, because it was collecting data intended to be used for the Volt. That is what test mule means.

If it were in the full Model X body, it wouldn’t be a test mule anymore, it would be an Experimental Prototype (EP). This isn’t an EP. It is a test mule.

Tesla did the same thing with the Roadster. They started off with a stock gas Lotus glider without any Tesla re-working, and they used this as a Roadster test mule just to work on the drivetrain. Then they moved to the first highly customized Roadster gliders to build their EP’s. After that, they build VP’s (Validation Prototypes).

Test mules are not equal to EP’s, and EP’s are not equal to VP’s. The title of the story stands correct as written.

Did Tesla announce that the X would only be offered in AWD? I remember at the initial reveal it would going to be RWD with AWD as an option. Did that change?



See the “drivetrain options” section.

Looks like they are working on the sw to control the AWD…

Vehicle stability control, torque vectoring…etc…

I was initially thinking the component added on the roof was a solar panel because they are going to add a solar roof as an option.

Haha… I was hoping it was a tray of brownies.

Weird that the mule is driving around near the University of California, Santa Cruz (as can be seen in the main photo). UCSC is where I attended college. Go slugs!

Picture the guy finally receiving his long awaited Model S, and notices there are 1700 miles on the odometer, a ‘circle’ on the wheels and a strange wrinkle in the roof panel..
Hell, I’d take it – car history is always fun at the cookout..

You’re all wrong. I’m quite certain it’s reinforcement to support the addition of wings and that Tesla will soon offer the flying cars those of us who were born in the 50’s were told people would be using by the year 2000. Wonder if it can fold up into a brief case?