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- Tesla first introduced the Model S in 2012. Since then, it has earned lots of recognition and awards like MotorTrend’s "Ultimate Car of the Year."
- The car, now seven years old, has never seen a full redesign, but the 2019 Model S has evolved significantly from the first iteration of the car.
- From losing front grilles and sunroofs to increasing its range, here are all the major changes Tesla has made to the flagship Model S.
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Unlike other mainstream car manufacturers that may significantly update their vehicles before a full redesign, Tesla has taken a different route, implementing small aesthetic and mechanical changes over the course of each vehicle’s life cycle, while investing substantially more resources into over-the-air software updates that improve the vehicles internally.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter in July that the Model S would not be refreshed this year, and would — along with its SUV sibling the Model X — only receive incremental changes instead.
And since its introduction, the Model S has undergone many changes, including updates to its drive unit, as well as exterior and interior aesthetic modifications.
Here is a timeline of some major changes the popular electric luxury sedan has undergone since its introduction, both in its aesthetics and in its programming and driving features.
In 2013, Tesla released the Model S P85+.
LED eyebrow Daytime Running Lights were available in 2013 as part of the $3,500 Technology Package, according to Green Car Reports. But after September 2013, the DRLs became standard equipment on the Model S even without the package, according to the Tesla Motors Club. The tech package included features like seven years of maps, keyless entry, and memory seats.
The P85+ was a more powerful Model S. While a Model S with a 60-kWh battery has a zero-to-60 time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 120 mph, the P85+ could accelerate to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 129.9 mph, according to Tesla.
The 40-kWh battery was removed after only 4% of customers chose the option, a number too low to justify production, Tesla said.
In 2014, Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist technology was introduced.
Mark Matousek / Business Insider
Autopilot became an add-on option in September 2014. By the end of the year, all new Model S cars included the camera, radar, and ultrasonic sensor hardware necessary for the addition. The functionality could be activated at any time for an additional fee.
The company also released the first dual-electric motor production car in the Model S in October 2014: the P85D. Tesla claimed that having an electric motor on each axle allowed for better traction and longer battery range.
In 2015, Tesla created another tier of the Premium Interior Package.
David Zalubowski/AP Photo
The Executive Rear Seats option was added as another tier to the Premium Interior Package, according to Car and Driver. The ERS provided two captain’s chair-style rear seats with two-zone heaters and controls that allowed passengers to adjust media, climate, and panoramic roof settings with the Tesla app.
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