With the official launch date for Tesla’s all-electric Model X crossover SUV just a few months away, the Californian automaker is coming to the end of its extensive engineering validation test cycle.
At this point in the test cycle, production specifications are all but signed off, vehicular design is set, and the only thing left for Tesla engineers to do is to ensure that the Model X performs exactly as designed in a variety of different situations.
To do that, Tesla needs to amass as many miles in the real world as it can, pushing the luxury SUV to its limits.
It’s no surprise then that we’ve seen an uptick in the number of Tesla Model X sightings in the past few weeks, including the one above from YouTube user Count783. In it, we see a mud-caked Tesla Model X riding on the back of a trailer in Chandler, Arizona, presumably heading back to an engineering facility after being put through its paces off-road.
Thankfully, the driver who took the video does a great job of pointing the camera directly at the back of the Model X as he draws level with it on the road, giving us a clear view of the rear of the pre-production vehicle.
Aside from the large amount of dirt on the rear of the vehicle, which seems to be the result of some off-road dirt-track driving, we see a window sticker on the passenger-side rear quarter window with the designation “MX38”. While this could refer to ‘Model X number 38,’ the large panel gaps at the front-end of this car make us think it has either been put through some severe testing or is a fairly old prototype that’s just on its way back from some extended testing.
Despite being on the back of a trailer in the video, there are some other interesting points to note about this particular car. As well as missing some trim on the front fender, we note that the side indicator repeater, as well as the door handles, appear to have been taped up on the passenger side.
While this could just be a precaution for travel, it does again suggest this is an earlier production prototype rather than a pre-production validation vehicle.
But there’s one other thing which captures our attention which think worthy of mention: what appears to be a brand-new, clean tow hitch fitted to the rear of the prototype car.
Unlike the rest of the Model X, it is perfectly clear, and the usual warning labels found on a modern town hitch are clearly visible, making us wonder if the car has just received a tow hitch ahead of further testing on or off road. Given the temperatures right now in Arizona, it’s likely this model is also being put through some tough thermal testing to ensure it can cope with the extremes of desert life.
The second video, as our friends at Autobloggreen note, is less cinematographically enjoyable. Unlike the Arizonan video, this one — taken in Berkeley California — flips quite a bit between portrait and landscape video modes as well as pointing anywhere but at the Model X. Nevertheless, it shows a Tesla Model X with a series of sensors attached to its body.
We guess, as do other outlets, that this is part of Tesla’s validation process for final verification of handling vehicular performance, or perhaps as something to do with Tesla’s upcoming autopilot feature, which will likely debut around the same time as the model X.
Far cleaner than the dirt-caked model from Arizona, the second video also shows quite clearly a rear active airfoil in the deployed position on the second Model X. Something we’ve not seen before on a prototype Model X, it means that Tesla’s luxury full-size SUV will use this to give it superior aerodynamics at higher speed, improving handling and efficiency at the same time.
With Tesla on track to commence production and deliveries of the Model X by Q3, we’re interested to see just how many more videos we’ll see before Tesla finally releases official specifications and pricing on what is the hottest car of the year.
We’ll be sure to let you know more when we know it.
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