Tesla Model S Body Kit: Definitely Different, Range-Robbing Too?

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Body kits--add-on components and replacements for a car's front and rear fascias and door sills--are often a good way for owners to make their vehicle stand out from the crowd.

Often used on luxury brands and tuner cars, the updated looks are usually edgier and more aggressive than the factory styling, and often distinctive--if an acquired taste for most.

Even if unaccompanied by any mechanical updates, they generally make a car look racier.

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Their impact on a car's performance, however, generally isn't mentioned.

And that's the case with a body kit for the Tesla Model S electric luxury sedan, this one offered by a company called Larte Design Tuning.

Larte Enigma body kit for Tesla Model S

Larte Enigma body kit for Tesla Model S

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As the photos show, the Larte Enigma kit for the Model S adds angular protrusions to the front and rear plastic body caps, giving the effect of larger ducts and scoops to feed greater volumes of air to the car's engine.

Which would be fine if the Tesla Model S had an engine, but of course, it doesn't.

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Larte says its body kits demonstrate "bold design ideas, combining elegance with truly muscular, aggressive lines" that provide "fascinating, eye-catching tuning elements, which will not let your car stay unnoticed on the road."

On its website, the company notes:

Larte Enigma body kit for Tesla Model S

Larte Enigma body kit for Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

The emblem contains all symbols which reflect the company’s philosophy. The royal blue is the color of noble origin, and it also symbolizes the Alpine sky which the company founders saw in Germany. The four horseshoes mean good luck and happiness, as well as the succession from a horse to a car. You can notice the letter “K” in one of the horseshoes, which stands for “company”. The eight stripes symbolize eternity and prosperity. The emblem is a harmonious combination of all these signs and a proud symbol of the company on the grille of each modified car.

It also offers kits for various models from Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Range Rover--and there may be BMW kits on the way too, if the X5 in the background of one of the Tesla photos is any indication.

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The challenge, of course, is that the Larte Enigma kit very likely increases the aerodynamic drag of a Model S, which will cut its electric range--especially at highway speeds.

Tesla Motors spent thousands of hours of effort to reduce drag over the body, even designing motorized door handles that retract fully into the body and then extend when the car senses its key fob nearby.

Larte Enigma body kit for Tesla Model S

Larte Enigma body kit for Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

The now-discontinued Tesla Model S 60 base model was rated at 208 miles of range; the Model S lineup now has rated ranges of 240 to 270 miles.

And the stock Tesla body has one of the lowest drag coefficients of any car sold today. So we can't imagine that the increased turbulence from airflow around the Enigma kit's angles and protrusions will do anything but reduce those ranges.

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The Larte kit is far from the only body kit offered for the Tesla Model S; other companies offer similar kits, nose-cone replacements, fender flares, and other such aftermarket accessories.

But what makes a Tesla look racier may well actually reduce its performance.

Looks can be deceiving.

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