Spy Shot

Video: Tesla Caught Testing Camouflaged Car at Mythbusters’ Favourite Test Ground. Is it the Model X or the Model ≡?

Waking up to breaking news is always exciting, especially when it’s a video of a brand new unreleased electric car being put through its paces in some high-speed handling tests.

And that’s exactly what we woke up to this morning, courtesy of a video sent to us of San Francisco Bay area resident Juan del Real, which shows Tesla Motors testing its latest prototype car on the former U.S. Naval air station based in Alameda, California, favourite outdoor filming location for popular TV show Mythbusters.

What we can’t tell quite is if the heavily-camouflaged car is a heavily modified 2016 Tesla Model X, or the very first glimpse of the much-hyped, long-promised $35,000 2018 Tesla Model ≡. If we had to guess however, we’d say it was the latter.

Located on the east side of the San Francisco bay, the former U.S. Naval air station is the perfect open space for Tesla to use as an additional test space, being just 25-miles from the Fremont facility where the Model S is made. And while Tesla already has an extensive test track at its Fremont facility, it doesn’t have anything quite as wide and open as the former Alameda runway.

In the description for his video, del Real says that he was at the skatepark adjacent to the runway Tesla was testing on and ‘just happened to notice’ the camouflaged electric car being tested at high speed. But while de Real says he thinks this car is the Model X, another eagle-eyed local by the name of Brandon Kiehne was able to snap a photo of the same vehicle being loaded back onto a Tesla trailer near to the entrance of the closed field after testing.  Like us, Kiehne says he thinks the car is the as-yet unveiled Tesla Model ≡.

And while some media outlets are already mocking that particular evaluation, saying that they believe the car is ‘clearly a Model X’, we’re going to side with the folks at Jalopnik, who note that the car seems a little out of proportion to be a Model X given the fact that there’s a production Tesla Model S in the background of the shot which seems to look larger than the prototype being loaded up. Either that, or it’s a trick of the camera.

But then there’s the video, and the proportions of the unidentified car. From where we’re looking, the car seems to have a different nose and rear to the last Model X prototype we saw in public. Unlike the sweeping X5-esque hatch of previous Model X cars prototypes, this car seems to have a shorter, snubber rear that’s almost Toyota Prius-like.

What we can tell you from the excellent video however is that this car does seem to demonstrate a little more body roll than the Model S, lending us to believe that it’s more likely to be an early prototype Model ≡ than a near-production Model X .

But like everyone else, we’re just guessing. Only Tesla and its employees truly know what the car was — and they’re not talking.

Which car do you think it is? And what do you notice from the spy shots above?

Let us know in the Comments below.


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  • Kalle Centergren

    Their have been roumers around befor this video that the tail and nose have been compleatly remaid on the X, so i think it is the X we are seeing

  • Matt Beard

    It does look very, very like an X. There are only two real oddities I can see. Firstly the rear doors have been longer in every X shot I have seen than the front, yet here the rears seem to be shorter than the front. Secondly the wheels seem larger in proportion to the rest of the car on this one than any X pics I have seen. What is clear (ish) is that the handles for the rear doors seem to be at the front of the door where they are on the Model X – so if this is the Model 3 it either has falcon wing doors (which I really, really doubt) or suicide doors (unlikely, but possible)

    • Matt Beard

      Just noticed something else… every picture of the Model X I can find has the doors higher up – the bottom of the rear door is level with (or slightly higher than) the rear wheel-hub. There is then a large black band below both doors on the X. The pictured car has a thin band under the door with the bottom of the rear door well below the rear wheel-hub. If this is the X then they have made some interesting changes.

      • BEP

        Adjustable air suspension.

  • Ezzy

    When I first visited SF, I went to Alameda to see if by some stroke of luck, I’d see Mythbusters or something interesting like this. I ended up being chased off US Navy property by security. They did like the new convertible Mustang rental I was driving though :DnI had unknowingly driven into restricted space (the gates were open with no guards or anything) to take pics of the harbour cranes that were somewhat of an inspiration to Star Wars Imperial AT-AT’s.

  • Nice wrap on camouflage design. Like the 4-track sound in the video. Awesome stopping distance!nnbtw: From the photo: nLabel on trailer door has a red ‘X’. Must be on loan from SpaceXn u2026 the Space being on the left-side door, the X on the right-side. 😉

  • I would say that it is the Model X. I hesitate to say clearly, but perhaps ‘obviously’. nnAs mentioned the shape is like the X, although the rear does look very boxy with the camouflage. You can see the central doorhandle as Matt mentions, meaning suicide or falcon wing doors…. It’s also very tall, distance between rear wheels and windows… nnThings to note, that C pillar looks absolutely collosal, but of course the camouflage could be hiding things. Probably/possibly it is glass just doesn’t slide down like the rest of the window…

  • Greg

    The size is so hard to work out. Even on Extant the Model X looked small in some shots. nnIf it is the Model u2261, then I’d say the whole body is an “option”. nnie: EM said they were trying to decide between something radical or something more mainstream. So on their test bed they’re trailing the “mainstream” body (for now).

  • oic

    Look like an X to me. Model 3 was suppose to be a radical design that look totally different to Model S or X. This look too much like X to be considered radical

  • CDspeed

    My best guess is, we’re looking at a production Model X in its final testing phase. Sometime within the coming months the Model X will be crash tested, and then we’ll see it launch later in the year.

  • BEP

    It is too early to have a Model 3 being tested. So I vote for X.

  • Esl1999 .

    I took a blown up still of the vehicle in motion from the video and managed to roughly get the same angle as the Model X pic from Tesla’s website, and it sure seems to match up. It could be a 3 disguised to look like an X, but I doubt it. My money is on it being an X.

  • james pond

    The video is called “testing the Model X”. Seems a little obvious what it is.

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