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Here is Our First Look at a Clad Refreshed Tesla Model Y Testing in California – New Front Fascia & Taillights – Project Juniper is a Reality

For the past few months, we’ve had reports of a major Model Y refresh that Tesla is working on under the code name Juniper. Today, in Pasadena, California, we’ve spotted our first refreshed Model Y under heavy cladding.

Tesla and Elon Musk do not like reports claiming that there is an upcoming Tesla vehicle refresh. This is understandable, given the fact that if people think a major vehicle upgrade is on the horizon, they will hold off on purchasing the current variant, hurting the company’s bottom line.

Having said that, since Tesla rolled out a comprehensive overhaul of the Model 3, often referred to as the project Highland Refresh, it was all but certain that some of the changes that debuted with the new Model 3 would find their way to the Model Y.

These assumptions were further corroborated last year when Reuters reported that Tesla was working on a refreshed Model Y variant under the codename Juniper.

Until recently, the Juniper Model Y was a mystery, with no publicly available information. However, thanks to a keen-eyed Reddit user today, we can finally satisfy our curiosity and see the first pictures of the highly anticipated upcoming Model Y update.

Jack|Jack on Reddit shared an image of a covered-up Model Y in California, writing, “Possible New Model Y sighting. I was running around Rose Bowl today and saw a masked Model Y parking nearby. It looks like the front is just the same shape as the Highland Model 3. The last time someone saw a masked Highland was about 6-7 months before it was released. juniper soon?”

If you are unfamiliar with it, one of the biggest changes to the refreshed Model 3 was an updated exterior, especially a much more aesthetically pleasing front fascia, and a redesigned rear end and taillight.

Tesla vehicles are often criticized for their blobby appearance and lack of character. However, the Highland Model 3 delivered, in our opinion, the best look of any Tesla vehicle.

The front fascia on the refreshed Model 3 has a sharper and much more sporty line, and getting back to the covered-up Model Y spotted in Pasadena, it appears that the refreshed Model Y will feature the same aggressive front as the refreshed Model 3.

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Although the vehicle is covered up, the recently spotted Model Y clearly has the same design line as the refreshed Model 3.

The second major change is expected at the rear of the vehicle. Unfortunately, Jack only took a picture of the covered-up Model Y from the front.

Having said that, Tesla's choice to cover up the rear quarter of the Model Y also suggests that the vehicle will see changes in the rear and taillight.

This is further corroborated by the fact that when Tesla was testing out the highlight Model 3 in public ahead of the unveiling, the company always covered up the front and rear quarters, exposing the middle part.

The Highland Model 3 has one of the most beautiful taillight designs of any Tesla vehicle, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the same changes were made to the Juniper Model Y.

Naturally, outside of the covered-up parts, we don’t see many changes; the covered-up Model Y sports the same silvery Gemini wheels as the current Model Y. However, it will not at all be surprising if Tesla launched a brand-new wheel design for the Juniper Model Y.

What other changes do we expect with the Juniper Model Y?

As alluded to earlier, the Juniper Model Y refresh is largely expected to catch up Tesla’s best-selling vehicle to its smaller brethren. 

This might make the Juniper Model Y refresh less exciting; however, given the fact that we have the new Model 3 in our hands, we can also make very good guesses as to the changes coming to the Model Y.

We have already hinted at the exterior changes we expect with the Model Y refresh. However, using the refreshed Model 3 as a blueprint, we can also guess the changes coming to the Model Y interior.

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The biggest change in the Highland Model 3 interior is the removal of stalks. Tesla has moved all the controls, including gear selector function and windshield wiper controls, to the steering wheel and center touch screen.

In the new Model 3, you slide a button on the touch screen to select the gear, and we expect the refreshed Model Y to feature similar decisions.

Other changes currently being rolled out on the Model 3 include improvements to the vehicle’s noise, vibration, and harshness. The new Model 3 includes adaptive dampers that improve ride quality, which will likely be added to the Juniper Model Y.

This is all exciting; however, it also raises the question of when Tesla plans to roll out the refreshed Model Y.

When will Juniper Model Y launch?

As Jack mentioned above, Tesla started publicly testing the refreshed Model 3 around six months before the vehicle’s debut; if we assume Tesla will stick to a similar schedule, it puts the launch of the refreshed Model Y around the end of 2024 or early 2025.

This is further corroborated by Reuters, which reported, citing unnamed sources, that the Juniper Model Y will debut in 2024.

Overall, this is all the information we’ve regarding the upgraded Model Y; however, we’ll be sure to keep you posted when we learn more details about Tesla’s plans. Until then, make sure to visit our site,, regularly for the latest updates.

So, what do you think? Are you excited to see Tesla commencing public testing for the Juniper Model Y? Also, do you think reports of a refreshed Model Y will hurt the vehicle’s sales in the short term? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below by clicking the red “Add new comment” button.

Image: Courtesy of Tesla, inc.

For more information, check out: An Hour After I Picked Up My Brand-New Cybertruck, I Rear-Ended a Tesla Model 3, but It’s Not My Fault, My Cybertruck Brake Pedal Failed

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and the evolution of the EV space daily for several years. He covers everything about Tesla, from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.