Tesla Model X Spotted on Public Road in Culver City, California


Instagram user @jmtibs snapped a photo of the Tesla Model X seen here.

Tesla Model X Pre-Production Vehicle Recently Went On Display in Tesla's Palo Alto Dealer Store

Tesla Model X Pre-Production Vehicle Recently Went On Display in Tesla’s Palo Alto Dealer Store

What @jmtibs didn’t know is that his lens actually caught what’s believed to be the only fully operational Model X in existence.

This Model X sighting occurred in Culver City, California, which is less than 10 miles from Tesla’s design center in Hawthorne.

The Model X seen here was believed to have just been at the Hawthorne design studios.

Our guess is that perhaps this Model X is getting ready for the trip to Detroit for the 2014 NAIAS.

Of note, the Model X has side mirrors rather than cameras.  This is to comply with federal regulations in the US.  This change was made awhile back, though some are still unaware of the alteration.

The Tesla Model X is expected to launch in the US in late 2014 as a Model Year 2015 offering.

Hat tip Tim Chaimungkla!!!

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88 Comments on "Tesla Model X Spotted on Public Road in Culver City, California"

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The mirrors look like they’re still messing around with the design. It must really suck to try to force the government to allow the cameras. They keep talking about ‘finishing touches’ on the design, and I think they may be trying to do a fender that either works with or without mirrors. I’ve no idea but I wish them the best of luck. No mirrors would be a big marketing deal, but I also don’t want them to have to wait on the feds.

We’re lucky that the automotive design/safety experts in congress are protecting us from evil profiteers like Tesla. Government rules! 😉

Considering the government has essentially backed Tesla, in this case I would say they rule. Think!

Yep, you “Open-Mind”, or was that just a wink, and you are a close-minded Republican. Those Tesla profiteers were funded by the $465 Government loan. GM seems to be cranking out some decent stuff as well.


Codes and Standards are a pain but hopefully slow down the into of Pinto’s and Yugo’s.

there is nothing wrong with the mirrors

I guess so. Maybe the one in the photo is just folded in a bit.

More than likely the vehicle is outfitted with the Technology Package, which includes automatic folding mirrors.

I wish the federal laws would change on side mirrors. Many cars are starting to adopt both. The mirrors, sensors, and software will ultimately do a superior job with blind spots and ….

I think they will, eventually. Tesla cannot be the only manufacturer lobbying for this: I remember seeing a concept car in person… in friggin’ 1995… with side cameras instead of mirrors.

The feds will likely wait for either an organized outcry from several major manufacturers coupled with data on the resulting fuel savings, OR they’ll insist on several years worth of reliability data from integrated camera systems to ensure that the reliability meets some random statistical reliability requirement for safety equipment.

You make that sound like a bad thing. What could possibly be wrong with insisting on a standard such as rigorous reliability tests? I wouldn’t opt for the feature if it was prone to failure. Backup cameras, for example, are not that big of a deal because you still have all the standard mirrors (rearview and both side mirrors). In the scenario of replacing side mirrors with cameras, there is no safety net. You have to turn your head and look far more often than necessary when one fails. Not very smart. I’m sure these things will be reliable, if they aren’t already. It makes much more sense to have our gov’t establish a minimum requirement (a standard) and uniform tests and ratings (like the current crash testing system). Generally speaking, I’ve quickly discovered that far too many people so easily forget that most rules are in place for good, legitimate, non-self-serving reasons. We’ve had so much protect us in the US for so long that too many people are letting their dogma get in the way of the fact that things are as good as they are because of the rules. In some cases, these rules have been around… Read more »

If the car is supposed to go into full-scale production in less than 12 months, I would think they should have more than one produced at this point.

It’s not an all new car, it’s using the same platform as the Model S. Anyway, Toyota has been designing new models from scratch to full production in less than a year for many years now, it’s not a new thing.

I was wondering about that. They need to manufacture production-intent models for crash-testing, cold weather testing, etc., etc., etc. I believe they needed approx. 50 Model Ses in order to run the full gamut.

Of course, with the factory up and running, it probably won’t take them nearly as long to manufacture the Model X test units as it did the Model S test units.

They also paraded around the Model S alpha and then the beta (of course, there was a long wait for early reservations, and it was their first car from scratch). We haven’t seen any betas…no national or international Model X tours of showrooms…no test drives…nothing.

Heck, they haven’t even stated the base MSRP yet. Being a bigger vehicle (longer, taller, more interior space and components like seats) and having standard AWD, the base Model X will almost have to start $7k to $10k higher than the base Model S.

Oh, well. I’m no automotive expert. Time will tell soon enough.

The same ugly front nose :/

I hope Gen 3 doesn’t have that nose.

It’s a shame that front fascia/grills have become so much a part of branding. Tesla has adopted a certain “grill shape” branding. BMW’s blue-lined false “grill” on the i3 is part of their branding, as is Chevrolet’s chromed panels on the Volt and Spark. It will be interesting to see cars that don’t have this vestigial feature, but simply colored body panels and a logo. It took a while for cars to stop looking like carriages too.

At the rate headlights are going, expect a smile and a mustache.

I wonder if a customizable grille would be popular. With 3D printing, almost anything is possible.

like “Mr. Potato Car”?

lol customizable then we would see actual ugly customizations with people that have horrible taste and would ruin the car with their tacky grill

3M grill graphics?

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee’s LED “slits” have upset a number of reviewers with their appearance. I suppose they could have arranged them into a less efficient circle to mimic old incandescent bulbs. Eliminate a lot of the technologically outdated FMVSS set in the 1930s: Two headlights, one on each side of the car can be better replaced with a single bar of LEDs on either side or across the whole front, or two small holes with laser lamps; Side view mirrors can be replaced with digital cameras; etc.. Throw in the elimination of grills, and maybe narrow tires built around hub motors, CFRPs and design based on light weight and low drag coefficients, and cars appearance will be radically altered. The Aptera and Edison2 VLC might be the direction we’re headed after all.


In 1990 Infinity made their flag-ship sedan just as you wish for. Colored body panels with a vintage style Japanese logo on the front since the air for the engine came from underneath the car not through a grill.

It was a sales dude. Lexus LS400 with a traditional grill was a sales hit. The rest is Japanese luxury car history. The LS competes with S-Class and 7 Series while the Q died an anonymous death. Infinity has just restated using the Q moniker for a mid-size sedan that has nothing to do with the original full size sedan.

In China, car companies compete on which can make the most ridiculous oversized grill on a car. Consumers dig the traditional grill.

Looks fine to me. Perhaps the Q45 was “ahead of its time”?

there is nothing ugly about the nose, you people are annoying

No kidding.

Grills on cars have defined the car since Henry Ford. Jesus, you want a car that looks like that old Q45? That looks like a radio controlled toy.

Being an EV, Tesla could get very creative with the grill, since it has no function for air intake, but I’m glad they have kept it fairly simple. The aftermarket parts companies are going to have to develop some grill options if you want something different.

> no function for air intake

Except ventilation, air conditioning, cooling the electric engines and brakes, plus pulling heat out from the battery cooling system 🙂

Cooling for electric motors takes up much less volume and front space because the coolant temperature is much lower. Look at the Chevy Spark and see how the EV model has its grille covered with the Volt cover. Yet it has air conditioning and battery cooling, too. Real BEVs might not need any nose grilles at all, because all cooling needs can be done with the air that passes underneath.

Random Note: There was a sub thread here about a grammatical error in this story. It was about 12 comments deep and was getting a little distracting to the topic itself, (=

Just as a heads-up…and in the interest of fair disclosure and all that, we gave it 24 hours to hang out and have now deleted it out so as to focus on the story.

Why is it believed that this is the only fully operational Model X? How do you even know it is fully operational?

The electric SUV. I don’t know which would be more depressing, if it is a financial success, or a financial failure. Oh well, at least it’s not a drone. 🙁

Why would it being a financial success be depressing?

Most liberals have been trained to hate SUVs and anyone with the last name “Palin”.

Forgot the winky 😉

Liberals actually hate the environmental impact of vehicles that have a huge carbon footprint. SUVs just happen to be a class of vehicles renown for their fossil fuel wastefulness and lower emissions standards.

Glad to see Tesla addressing the problem by redefining what a modern SUV can and should be– clean, quiet, roomy, efficient.

What’s to hate?

I’ve found that SUV-hate is often not as rational as you describe. Case in point … Warren. Consider two drivers…

Driver-A commutes 10 miles/day in an SUV.

Driver-B commutes 50 miles/day in a Prius.

Usually driver-A will be vigorously criticized while driver B (who “wastes” twice as much gas) will often be praised.

Driver-A still could have commuted in a Prius too.

Good point. Likewise, driver-B could choose to live closer and thus have a shorter commute.

In my experience, those on the left will generally be critical of driver-A while accepting (or even praising) driver-B.

IMHO, neither driver deserves criticism or praise.

Driver-A could easily take the bike to work (2×5 miles). Assuming that driver A lives in any other country than the US that is. 😉

@open: innefficiency is waste, in any form. That’s the deal. Driver A will be criticized for being wasteful, and Driver B will be criticized for commuting too far as well as praised for driving efficiently.

Conservatives have been trained to believe liberals hate SUVs.

The Conservatives are correct.

Conservatives are afraid of burning to death in an EV, too. 😉

Wasn’t there some talk about grills just recently, in this thread? What was the name of that famous movie hot dog in a Porsche?

It’s possible to love two cars at once. I love my i-MiEV, which does 95% of my driving. But I also love my SUV for hauling, towing, snow-driving, 4-wheeling, camping and transporting 6 rambunctious teen-agers and a dog.

The Tesla Model S was already the least efficient EV you could buy, not counting the defunct CODA, and this will be even less efficient. The Tesla is spandex sweat pants for people with a driving disorder.

Compare Tesla’s vehicle efficiencies against what people are CURRENTLY driving, and you’ll grasp why this is such an important step in transportation history. Teslas’s vehicle efficiencies will only further increase as energy density in batteries / capacitors improve, materials / construction methods evolve, and consumer’s tastes realign to promote more sustainable designs.

Warren, saying an EV is the least efficient EV, is like saying someone worth 1.2 billion is the poorest billionaire. People want/need SUV’s. If it’s electric, great! I’d feel the same way about an electric full size truck.


And Elon has brought up the Electric Truck topic a number
of times…

If Tesla had a battery break though that was 20% to 30% more that would save hundreds of pounds on the existing car would raise it’s efficiently a great deal. If they could find away to do this with 30% they could raise the car’s range 10% while at the same time taking 20% of the weight off of.

A example of this possibly happening is with the Mitsubishi i-MEV
Here is a link to Toshiba’s existing 20 Amp hour battery Toshiba is right now actively talking about releasing a 30% more battery power that will hold 30Amp hours in the same mass.. They plan to release it in February 2014

And Mitsu’s chief has said the i-Miev will start receiving batteries from a new plant in the late spring of ’14…

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

2 motors, more room, elevated seating position, and (hopefully) a price comparable to or lower than the launch Model S, Tesla will sell probably 3x more than they can make.. Hope I can afford one :p

But someone has to pay for the R&D costs for the Falcon Wing Doors. Would love to see them on a Gen III Tesla 3 Door Hatchbach.

And I’d love to see them removed. They make the X almost a non-starter for us.

Why’s that? I thought the X could hold ski’s/etc. I’m not a huge fan of them, but they are a head turner.

I’ll say I love these doors on the X when it’s in the showroom. But when I think of how quickly I jump into my car when it’s raining and how wet things still get, this large of an opening combined with electric motors closing them (read slowly) makes me think I better buy a new wet/dry vac.

Is it electric close? Should have just been air-piston assist.

kdawg look at the photos when open, once seated those doors are out of the reach of an NBA player.

Looks to be ~6′ from ground level. After you’ve entered the vehicle, since there’s no roof, couldn’t you just stand up inside and pull the door down as you sit down?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I’d have no problem as long as it came with a hitch to mount skis, bikes, etc.

(I really should swing by the local dealer to see if I’d be comfortable sitting upright in a Model S, who knows, they may make one with AWD available sooner or later..)

They are only making AWD in the X. They changed that a month or so ago. Take a look at the configurator. Look for that as an option in the S too but this is unconfirmed speculation.

Better to mount skis bikes etc from a rear tow hitch and maintain CD rating and range.

I wish I could share your enthusiasm, but there is simply no way that the Model X could start even at the current starting price of the Model S. AWD, bigger car, more interior components (3rd row seats, etc.), I would be shocked if the 60kWh Model X starts for any less than the plain 85kWh Model S, and no supercharging included.

Hmm. Tiny side mirrors for such a large vehicle…

Elon had commented earlier, Tesla was playing around with the idea of selling it with mirrors that could be easily removed by the owner, after purchase, just to get around outdated Fed Regulations. Cameras would still be built into the base. Curious what the final solution will be…

Still wouldn’t be legal to drive.

I like the idea of mirrors on the cars in that they don’t break down like a camera would do. The thing that worries me about the Tesla with it having so many electrical things in it such as computers would it be more prone to electrical problems down the road.

Wait… Your complaining about electrical reliability of more electronics inside an Electrical Vehicle? Something needs to fail to keep service garages open. 😉

ICE vehicles also have many of the same electronics gadgets onboard. Automakers resisting the EV Wave, will likely try to cram even more electronic gadgets inside their ICE vehicles, to compete for sales.

Really? I’ve seen a lot of side mirrors knocked off cars. The FED’s need to update this outdated regulation. Should have been done in conjunction with the revised CAFE limits. The aerodynamic improvement is significant.

Texas law would be violated. Most people with glasses or other eye problems have a restriction on their license saying something like ‘must drive using side mirrors’. Nothing about side cameras.

Does not say the mirrors can’t be electronic. 😉

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Or you could just have mirrors that are closed and flush against the A-pillar, with a camera in the edge. If the camera fails, flip out the mirror. AFAIK only the driver’s side mirror is mandatory, unless that’s been changed over the years.

The mirror looks the same as the S’. It is just folded in.

Ummm the mirrors look great and i would not want stupid cameras instead, as long as the mirrors can fold they are perfect

“Stupid Cameras” give you better aerodynamics… Old fashioned mirrors just waste energy.

Power mirrors probably cost more too.

Did anyone noticed this X has folded mirrors? Automatic folding mirrors are to be an option for the 2014 Model S.

They have been an option for a few months. Tesla doesn’t wait for model year changeover to add options. A subtle difference but just another way they are revolutionizing a staid industry.

Sorry, NOT loving the look.

It is a “fatter” version of the Model S.

Model S is a sexy supermodel, and Model X is its heavier and fatter cousin….

Sounds like a typical CUV / SUV, to me… *shrugs*

The falcon wings are the REAR DOORS. You can still hop in and out of the vehicle through normal front doors. If you need access to the back rows while there’s snow on the roof, you clap your hands and the housekeeper clears the snow. Or you drive one of your other cars.

Those gull wing doors are a completed non-starter for me. I also hope they kill that fake grill on the model E.
But seriously….. This thread has been soooo entertaining !!!

Can’t quite tell from the pictures, but it doesn’t look like all that much more usable cargo space in the back. There is too much of an angle to it, especially if you were hoping to take a large dog along back there.

I wouldn’t judge much from this pic. I don’t think many folks think the Model S can carry 7, but it has a rear rumble seat that you wouldn’t expect.

Thank goodness. Jacking up the S to create the X should at least cut down on battery fires.

I always find it ridiculous to judge Tesla so harshly. Why don’t they do this? or Why isn’t the design like…?

They are developing new vehicles. A new way to power vehicles. If you think Elon and the gang are going to be satisfied with the Model S as it is today to be the same in 5 yrs. or any of their models, you are crazy. The batteries are what they are cause that is all there is at the moment to put into a highly produced EV to get 250+ miles on one charge. As the batteries develop, they will implement. Prices will change, etc…

Tesla is so far ahead and out of the box, many of the comments people make about them don’t fit at all. You have to really re-think vehicles if you want to be on the same level of where Tesla is and is going.

Agree. If you don’t like what the grill looks like or how the doors look or operate you can find some other 200 mile range all electric SUV to buy. Another option is, if you think you can do a better job designing Tesla vehicles than the ones already doing it, apply for a job. If you don’t want to work for Tesla, find another car company to work for, or start your own company.

The criticism does seem a bit excessive, but unfortunately, all of your “options” technically exist, but none are realistic options (each currently as probable as climbing Mount Everest successfully).