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How different are the 2015 Model X mules vs. 2012-2013 prototype(s)

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,978
EU
This topic has come up several times and nobody has done a full "360 degree" comparison, so I thought I'd give it a bit of a go. Of course merely commenting on how the 2015 mules look compared to 2012-2013 prototypes. I have no insight into how close or not close to production the mules look like (and there are other threads for that discussion).

Anyway, here is my take on the key differences. On the front, I will use the concept drawing and the unofficial data/rumors it is based on to work around the camo on the mules, so of course a part of this is speculative. I have attached a camoed photo of the nose too.

On the front, the shape of the bonnet is much sharper, the shape of the lights is much bigger than on the Model X prototype, fog lights/diffuser are different, the nose points more forwards, front windows continue past the front door. Also the lower lip and nose is much rounder, instead of the flat nose of the prototype. On the mules, the cross-beam between A pillars is gone, exposing a huge front window. Also in this image we can see how much higher and larger the side windows are on the mule.

model_x_mule_changes_1.jpg

attachment.php?attachmentid=76127&d=1427540647.jpg


On the sides, the falcon wings are shorter, but extend further to the back, front doors don't go as far front but front windows extend past them. The mule rear windows extend far back on the C pillar, compared to the prototype. The mules are also expected to have a shorter wheelbase than the Model X prototype, since the latter apparently had an abnormal (longer than Model S) wheelbase, which would explain also the differences in door sizes and positioning.

model_x_mule_changes_2.jpg


On the rear, the presence of an adaptive spoiler instead of a rear lip is of course a big differentiator on the mules. Also since the spoiler is glass (or the like), it makes the rear window seem extending much further down. There is also a new diffuser design and a rounder rear bumper, where the lower portion extends to the painter bumper much higher and more shapely than on the old. The spoiler image also give also a glimpse of the camoed newer rear lights on the mules.

model_x_mule_changes_3.jpg


model_x_mule_changes_4.jpg


Finally, the falcon wings themselves have a much sleeker design on the mules, compared to the 2012-2013 prototype. This image also shows how the creases of the bonnet have sharpened and how the front door window extends much further forward relative to the door, and also much further downwards on the door, basically straightening and extending the "window sill" line that used to curve up and cut short.

model_x_mule_changes_5.jpg


See also:

How has Model X nose changed since 2012 - and has it changed in 2015 mules?

How much has Model X changed: mule (2015) vs. prototype (2012) silhouette

]
AnxietyRanger said:
JRP3 said:
Care to estimate the percentages? How much bigger do the windows seem to you, how much further back do they extend? By what percentage is the falcon wing shorter? Because to me it looks like very small percentages, hence minor changes.
Good question. On the sides, the mules feature a sort of a constipated Model X prototype look, where the windows are larger and extend further back, upwards and downwards. This alone I think changes the profile of the mules vs. prototypes quite a bit, but of course takes a keener eye to fully appreciate. Maybe lets put in 10 percentage points for this because overall it has a dramatically changing effect.

The hemline re-design of the car, the longer length of the front doors and lesser length of the rear doors, as well as the way rear windows are split into two parts... let's add another 5 percentage points for all that.

The rear, while different in design (especially that adaptive spoiler there in place of a fixed "wing" design), is not quite as different as front... so maybe another 5 percentage points.

For the front, I'd add 15 percentage points of difference, it really is very different on the mules compared to the prototype. In place of the blunt "owl", is now quite a bit more rounded "duckface".

So, add those up, my quick guestimate is the exterior of the Model X mule of 2015 is 35% different compared to the Model X prototype of 2012-2013.
Since the vehicle as a whole is slightly different might as well say it's 100% :rolleyes: I think the average non Tesla obsessed person would say they are almost identical, and an overlay of the silhouettes would reflect that. Especially after removing what I expect are lens effects, not to mention camo elements. I'm sticking with a few single digit percentage points.
I agree any percentages are subjective unless we have access to blueprints and can agree to some common metric. I was merely entertaining your question.

Instead of percentages - and since mules may not relate quite to this thread - I posted photo comparisons in a new thread. People can calculate their own. :)
 

tga

Active Member
Supporting Member
Apr 8, 2014
4,148
3,245
New Hampshire
Well, at least nobody has made the Pontiac Aztek reference yet in this thread...

Oops, sorry! :)
I don't think the people who make the Aztek references have seen one in real life (watching Breaking Bad doesn't count). I knew someone who had one. I hate to admit I've ridden in one. They really were hideous. The X isn't even close.
 

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,978
EU
In this new image we can see the less-broad (but still existent) rear shoulder of the Model X mule vs. the prototype.

We can also see the hemline separating lower, or in relation starting and rising much higher on the mule than on the old prototype.

Also the larger windows and shorter falcon wing are visible, as is the reflection of the adaptive spoiler on the mule.

Although chrome window trim is partly missing, we can also see Tesla perhaps testing two different widths of trim on the mule. The prototype, of course, had more curvaceous window trim.

model_x_mule_changes_6.jpg
 
Last edited:

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,978
EU
We can? Because I see different color vehicles with different lighting effects that in no way allow me to draw any conclusions about that part of the vehicle.

Having looked a lot of these mules, it is of course just my opinion that the enlarging of the windows and moving windows more rearwards has made the shoulder styling (so massive on the Model S and still large on the Model X prototype) somewhat more straightened out and more subdued on the 2015 Model X mules. Part of this effect is maybe caused by necessity - the windows are so much closer to the shoulder, there is less room for styling.

Here is another new shot with the spoiler up. Here we can also see the somewhat more substantial window chrome.

model_x_chrome.jpg
 

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,978
EU
So when you say "less-broad" you don't actually mean narrower, just that it looks slightly different because of the extended window.

I don't mean the car is narrower, no. Just that the way the window extends to the shoulder that design element is a little less striking. There will still be "shoulders" on the car.

Anyway, we can all see the photos so commentary is of course just subjective. :)
 
In this new image we can see the less-broad (but still existent) rear shoulder of the Model X mule vs. the prototype.

We can also see the hemline separating lower, or in relation starting and rising much higher on the mule than on the old prototype.

Also the larger windows and shorter falcon wing are visible, as is the reflection of the adaptive spoiler on the mule.

Although chrome window trim is partly missing, we can also see Tesla perhaps testing two different widths of trim on the mule. The prototype, of course, had more curvaceous window trim.

View attachment 86648

Hi AR

Here is a quick observation although maybe wrong, interested in your thoughts:

On this mule photo, the falcon door seems misaligned. Of course this is normal for a mule, however as far as I can tell the chrome door handle on the passenger falcon door seems to be aligned *higher* than the front passenger door yet the chrome door trim at the top seems to be aligned *lower* than the passenger and the rear window.

In other words it would appear the door is too small?

Obviously i assume tesla will make it perfect for the actual release, however perhaps this could be an indication the car either grew or shrank by a few millimetres and the door did not yet or it's an older revision?

Of course I could be completely off - I know nothing of automotive manufacturing and testing or photo distortions
 

JRP3

Hyperactive Member
Aug 20, 2007
22,249
57,559
Central New York
I don't mean the car is narrower, no. Just that the way the window extends to the shoulder that design element is a little less striking. There will still be "shoulders" on the car.

Anyway, we can all see the photos so commentary is of course just subjective.

Right, but I'm not sure they changed the shape of the "shoulder" area at all beyond simply making a bigger cutout for the rear corner of the window.
 

AnxietyRanger

Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2014
9,408
7,978
EU
Hi AR

Here is a quick observation although maybe wrong, interested in your thoughts:

On this mule photo, the falcon door seems misaligned. Of course this is normal for a mule, however as far as I can tell the chrome door handle on the passenger falcon door seems to be aligned *higher* than the front passenger door yet the chrome door trim at the top seems to be aligned *lower* than the passenger and the rear window.

In other words it would appear the door is too small?

Obviously i assume tesla will make it perfect for the actual release, however perhaps this could be an indication the car either grew or shrank by a few millimetres and the door did not yet or it's an older revision?

Of course I could be completely off - I know nothing of automotive manufacturing and testing or photo distortions

If by smaller you mean sheet metal press calibration inaccuracies, caused by the still incomplete/on-going ramp-up, then why not. If by smaller you mean a smaller design of the doors, seems unlikelier.

While I think the chrome trim may be changing in size a bit (Tesla working to make it a bit more substantial as a last-minute design change?), it seems the front chrome and rear chrome don't quite match in size on all the mules, I doubt the doors themselves have been changing in size on the 2015 mules - at least the latest ones.

There is a guy on TMC that used to work on Mercedes factories and posted a very educational account on how new models start with terrible accuracy up until perfect accuracy, as part of the manufacturing ramp-up. I would estimate, if mules represent anything close to the final version (this is unknown of course), most inaccuracies are because of merely the calibration process being not yet complete.
 
There is a guy on TMC that used to work on Mercedes factories and posted a very educational account on how new models start with terrible accuracy up until perfect accuracy, as part of the manufacturing ramp-up. I would estimate, if mules represent anything close to the final version (this is unknown of course), most inaccuracies are because of merely the calibration process being not yet complete.

Here's the reference:

Are the Model X mules close to the final version? - Page 17

Mules are hand-built prototypes. Cars coming off the assembly line will be different, and with better fit and finish. (I worked in a Mercedes assembly plant for 15 years so I can tell you the typical startup for a new model). Soon Tesla will start building the first Model Xs on the assembly line, assuming they plan to stick to schedule of a fall release of the Model X. Usually there should be a first run of 10 to 20 vehicles (not destined for customer sale) to work out the bugs in assembly and parts, and to balance workload between stations. Also at this time, you finalize tooling setups to get the fit and finish correct. There will usually be several test runs of the line like this, each time building a larger quantity of vehicles (again, for calibration only and not for customer sale), and operating at a quicker TAKT time (time in each station). After 4 or 5 of such test runs (usually with a week or two in between), the company will be ready to start assembling customer-grade cars. It takes several months to go through this process - at least in any Daimler plant, and I would expect Tesla to be similar. Therefore don't worry if the mules look slapped together, they don't reflect final fit & finish at all
 

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