Skip to main content

First Tesla Model X spotted in Europe happens to be seen near Audi’s headquarters

first model x europe

We learned this weekend that the first Tesla Model X in Europe has been spotted near Munich, Germany. As Tesla is still getting through the production of the Model X for early reservation holders in America, it is surprising to see the vehicle in Europe and actually raises a few questions.

The car was spotted near Ingolstadt, where Audi’s headquarters are located. It has an Ingolstadt license plate number, meaning it was registered in the city. Tesla doesn’t have a facility in Ingolstadt, with the nearest being a store and service center in Munich or a gallery in Nuremberg.

We couldn’t find any European Model X reservation holders with a confirmation of their vehicle being in production. We asked a Tesla spokesperson if the car could be a test vehicle owned by the automaker or if it started shipping the Model X to customers in Europe and we will update if Tesla gets back to us.

A likely explanation would be that Audi managed to get their hands on an early ‘Signature Series’, or even ‘Founders Series’, in the US through a third-party or by purchasing the car pre-owned since a few have been spotted for sales for a significant premium. They could have then imported the vehicle to Germany for benchmarking or reverse-engineering.

Update: when first publishing we embedded the instagram of the sighting below, but as you can see the user removed the video – the images featured below are screenshots from the video:

Ja was haben wir denn da?! 🤗 #spotted #tesla #teslamodelx #ingolstadt #munich #münchen

A video posted by Arni 🚩 (@arnilike) on

It is not uncommon for automakers to buy vehicles from competitors in order to learn from and/or benchmark them. After Tesla released its award-winning Model S, Ford admitted to buying the car. CEO Mark Fields said:

“We drove it. We took it apart. We put it back together and we drove it again.”

Ford has since announced a significant investment in electric vehicles and 13 new electric models (BEV, HEV or PHEV) coming to its lineup by 2020.

Audi could have a particular interest in the Model X due to its own upcoming all-electric luxury SUV, the e-tron quattro. Audi aims to bring the vehicle to market in 2018 with a “range of more than 500 kilometers (310 miles)” on a 95 kWh battery pack. Like the Model X, the quattro is expected to only be available in all-wheel-drive.

The German automaker recently announced it has been gearing up for volume production of electric vehicles in Brussels.

When Audi unveiled the quattro concept, it boasted that the vehicle was the “most aerodynamic SUV ever made”, but that didn’t last long. A few weeks later, Tesla unveiled the production version of the Model X, which achieved a 0.24 drag coefficient, outperforming the quattro’s 0.25.

Though Audi’s quattro is set to come out about 3 years after the Model X, it will be interesting to see how the two all-electric SUVs compare. After all, Tesla open-sourced all its patents last year, but a patent is hardly a step-by-step instruction manual. It’s helpful to have an actual functioning product.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.


  1. MorinMoss - 7 years ago

    Perhaps Audi wanted to know if you can hide a diesel engine under the frunk?

  2. Anon - 7 years ago

    Well, the guy who shared this vid on Instagram works for Audi. So I’m 99% sure this car was brought to Germany for/by Audi. It was also confirmed (by an unknown indidivual) on the German TFF bulletin board that Audi got their hands on a Model X. Apparently they also “worked” on a Tesla Roadster (breaking it in the process) and brought it to the Tesla service center to have it fixed. And they have (had?) 2 or 3 Model S, but Tesla disabled one of them OTA and the remaining Model S was dis-/re-assembled quite often, so it’s not a very smooth ride.

    Anyway, Audi employees: have fun! 🙂

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      Tesla disabled Model S Audi was testing? Really? If true, that’s awesome. I’d like to hear more.

      • Anon - 7 years ago

        Well, I was just quoting a random internet guy 🙂 So not sure if this really happened.

        See this post:
        > den zweiten hat Tesla OTA stillgelegt, wegen “intrusion detection” am Akku

        –> Audi’s second Tesla was disabled OTA because of battery “intrusion detection”

        (Or maybe Audi killed the battery and now the car refuses to start, and there’s no OTA involved? Just my thoughts… 🙂 )

  3. ‘Tear-down’ without doubt! They also had a few early Model S’s running around in Germany & South Africa. Also ‘winter’ tested them…

  4. Harrod - 7 years ago

    This is an ideal product type for VW Group because all emissions can be blamed on the electricity supplier, not the vehicle manufacturer.

  5. benoit - 7 years ago

    if it was spotted in Munich that would be then close to BMW headquarter…Audi is based out of Ingolstadt…another town…

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      If you read the article, it clearly state it has Ingolstadt plates and it was spotted in the city.


Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

Fred is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Electrek.

You can send tips on Twitter (DMs open) or via email:

Through, you can check out Fred’s portfolio and get monthly green stock investment ideas.