Interior design... Is this the Model S becomming to posh for it's own good?

Interior design... Is this the Model S becomming to posh for it's own good?

When I first saw video the Model S working prototype, the first thing I thought of was "TRON"!

Being I was part of the development of team for “TRON” (next gen), I perceived the “Model S” as more of a futuristic vehicle, in a class by itself, not just another posh-mobile..i.e. Caddy, Lincoln, or Benz, but, rather more like an exotic (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi R8, etc) type.

Now the interior looks too average, more my grandfathers car.

For example… The wood accents, and dash design now looks far to average (kind of like an iPod or iPAD with a faux wood case). I love the tec, however, the way the interior is looking now, it kind of make me feel that my gen (30 to 50 year olds) is being snubbed by the interior design staff, to appease a bunch of old fogie caddy-gramps, who will NEVER really appreciate what this vehicle really is (sorry gramps, you had your chance when GM was selling you down the toilet).

Also, the last car I drove that had the ‘Drive’, ‘Reverse’, ‘Park’ controls as a side-stick on the steering column, was my first hand-me-down 1970 Ford Maverick when I was in high school …

What happened to the really fantastic center console stack that was on the original prototype?

Maybe I'm incorrect to assume that the current Beta S is the one and only interior design style available, however, if so, I am really fearful Tesla is going in the complexly wrong direction for the serious modern executive that will use this car to its fullest!

What is everyone else’s thoughts on this subject? Do you want your grandfathers’ car, or a vision of the future?

Mycroft | 04. Dezember 2011


I want a luxury car with the tech of the future. I'm not sure what you're saying would make you happy, but I doubt enough people would be willing to pay for it. For myself, I trust Elon's vision.

TikiMan | 04. Dezember 2011

My fear is; the prototype WAS Elon's vision, and the current Beta S is the vision of a design staff that is thinking on a level of fear that 'status-quo old men' won't think it's 'Buck Rodgers' enough.

Don't get me wrong, I love my cherry wood kitchen, however, I would't want to drive it!

It NEEDS to be more TRON, and less 'Buck Rodgers'.

Robert.Boston | 05. Dezember 2011

I've decided to stop fretting about the interior. At this point, I'm sure that the collective feedback from reservation-holders has been heard, sorted, and processed, and further that all substantive decisions about the interior (and exterior) design are complete. We'll see what comes out in Beta 2.0, along with the pricing sheet, and make our individual decisions about whether the combination of capabilities, features, appearance, and cost makes us want to keep our orders in place. As for me, Tesla will have to go pretty far wrong for me to cancel.

EdG | 05. Dezember 2011

I agree with R.B. They read these posts, and there have been dozens related to this subject. If they haven't already taken them to heart, they're not going to, for whatever reason. The clock to delivery time is ticking; hopefully the interior will be much more likeable.

Just as a hint, the steering wheel in the Alpha and Beta (IIRC) was from MB, and that was supposedly going to change. How much else will change? Only Tesla knows.

discoducky | 05. Dezember 2011

I would love more TRON and less Grandpa, but I'm happy getting more Elon and less Fiskar, if that makes sense. Also, I agree with all the posts prior in this thread as they all make sense and I'm bought into the Tesla vision.

Soflauthor | 05. Dezember 2011

@Robert.Boston said: I've decided to stop fretting about the interior. At this point, I'm sure that the collective feedback from reservation-holders has been heard, sorted, and processed, and further that all substantive decisions about the interior (and exterior) design are complete.

I agree. With seven months to first delivery (assuming Elon's schedule holds), the interior design is done. Hopefully, TM has done a much better job with the display and has added a center console. If they haven't, each of us will have to make their own decision about going forward.

I also agree with @Tikiman that TRON-like features might be a nice touch. I think it's possible to meet the expectations of those who rightfully expect "luxury" in a $85 - 90K car (talking about the Sig) and still provide a futuristic feel for the interior. All it takes is a good design that properly integrates each of the interior elements and provides one path (via options and/or material choices) to TRON and possibly another to "luxury."

Leofingal | 05. Dezember 2011

I am with Soflauthor on this. One of the things I love the most about my 2001 Audi TT is the look/feel of the interior. It is simple, black plastic and aluminum highlights, but the lines and the general feel were totally different from the other cars out there that I had seen.

I think simple clean lines (in line with the whole button/knob free style they are working toward) that flows smoothly into the display (which the current beta arguably lacks) will be what we end up with (I hope!). I would prefer the forward/reverse/park not be stalks as this evokes a bad response in my gut, but I won't cancel over this kind of crap, it just would disappoint me. Regarding the cupholders, I believe this was mentioned before, but apparently these were glommed on to the TT design, and they sucked, probably worse than the ones in the Beta that people seem to really dislike.

jackhub | 05. Dezember 2011

Ok, so how big is the market for $80,000 'TRON-likes'? 20,000/year? For how many years? I don't think so. In the video on the design process, Tesla observed they could havbe done a lot of radical things because of the skateboard, but they didn't want to get too far in front of current market tastes. While innovators and some early adopters may want to push the envelope, let's remember this is aimed at a mass production market with sufficient volume to bring in the next, lower priced model. So far, Elon has shown a good balance of innovation and business sense. I trust him or I wouldn't have put my money where my mouth is- and I wouldn't be waiting in line.

Mycroft | 05. Dezember 2011

Well said jackhub. My thoughts exactly. We don't need another Aptera.

TikiMan | 05. Dezember 2011

@ Jackhub, no offence, but for some of us, this car is just not a three year, $40k lease, and turn-around and get another one three years later, deal. I for one, am willing to make this vehicle the biggest car purchase I have EVER made in my life at $100k (fully loaded). I want this company to succeed, and progress into the future! 

With that said, look at most dream car interiors (i.e. exotics), they look sporty, racy, futuristic! On the other hand, look at your average box car... cheap, conserative, plain, boring. As it stands, the body and exterior style of the Model S looks more like an exotic sports car, NOT a boxy Caddy or Volvo.

I don't think anyone looking for your 'average' family wagon box, is remotely interested in a Model S, so why design the interior to appease this kind of non-buyer? From what I have read on these boards, most here with deposits on this car have owned fancy sports, state-of-the-art, innovative, and cutting edge vehicles, and can afford such. 

All movie references aside, it's a matter of quality design to cater to the REAL buyers of this car! If my opinions insulte anyone at Tesla, I am sorry... I WANT YOU TO BE SUCESSFUL!!! I personally work on products that make billions of dollars, and I KNOW about what will make it and what won't! And I really want IT to MAKE IT!

TikiMan | 06. Dezember 2011

@ Volker.Berlin... Thanks for including the extra links. I figured another one might help solidify our points.

I guess the reality of it is, this forum as a whole, isn't trying to be picky, but rather we want Tesla to succeed!

With that said... I doubt many of us are likely willing to forgo buying this fantastic ground-breaking vehicle (regardless what the final result looks like), however, I think ALL of us want to see Tesla sell MILLIONS of cars, so they can revolutionize the auto industry, and vehicle transportation as we know it!

Some of us here (like myself) come from a successful design and marketing background of innovative products, and I am sure many of us have seen where a few simple flaws on a new product (that we all would have designed better), ended up being the demise of it, and or company that sold it. I for one have called out a few HUGE ones in my forty-five years on this planet (the demise of DeLorean, GM, Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and GMC).

The very fact that Tesla is sponsoring a forum like this, says they WANT INPUT (no matter how brutally critical). In fact, if Tesla was my company, I would rather read a thousand critical posts from intelligent successful executives, than just a bunch of spoiled fanboy Kool-Aid drinkers post praising everything without any thoughts of their own.

brianman | 06. Dezember 2011

The design criteria I hope they're considering in refining the interior:
- comfortable (seat contouring, etc.)
- competitive ("luxury" comes from design, not marketing)
- consistent (with the exterior)
- futuristic ("Tron")
- innovative (17" touchscreen is part of this)
- inspiring (not a mini-van)
- safety (address the 'what can I adjust by feel without looking away from the road' problem)

When it comes to the specific features, I care much more about what is available rather than what is "standard". I don't look forward to having to go to a 3rd party to provide options that Tesla doesn't offer. I'd like my signature (including the options) to be pure Tesla, not Tesla + "pimp shop".

ckessel | 06. Dezember 2011

It's a mass market car. Tron-like is eye catching and good for car shows, so are Formula-1 cars, but most people don't want to live with such a car on a day to day basis. The interior is going to be most successful if it looks classy rather than a futuristic fantasy.

Every seen the Tron-guy image? Yea, no one wants that...

JohhnyS | 06. Dezember 2011

Clean design, simple controls, and durable interior are desired.

I have some concern the 17" monitor will turn into the "Hal 9000".

jbunn | 06. Dezember 2011

The BMW i8 is about as Tron as you can get. That might even pry me out of my S in a few years, but I don't want a hybrid.

Problem with Tron looks is they get dated though.

The car interior will need to be futuristic yet elegant and refined but NOT trendy. Trendy comes and goes VERY quickly leaving the owner with something that screams "so last year".

I think they've done a fine job, but want to see them go back to the alpha version of making that IMAX monitor look like it grew with the dash, not got tacked to it.

@jmatson - Hal 9000 would be an awsome skin... Needs a sound theme. "Open the panoramic roof Hal!" "I'm sorry Dave... I can't do that."

TikiMan | 06. Dezember 2011
jbunn | 06. Dezember 2011


Ahhgh! Curse you! I did not need to see that Buick Lacrosse, dammit! That hurt my eyes. And that which is seen cannot be unseen.

Yes, I like the way the Alpha visualy grounds the IMAX. Also like the way the dash makes the hard corners of the screen softer at the bottom by curving in. Makes it look more like an integrated display, not a big square monitor that crash landed in the dash. I remember seeing that a year and a half or so ago and my first thought was "wow". That looks like a custom display. Wonder who they got to make that in that strage format. Very distinct.

David M. | 06. Dezember 2011

@jbunn - thanks for making me laugh! My thoughts exactly.

I think most everyone likes the dash on the Alpha. Tesla knows that now. They've heard all our comments, and I trust the infotainment screen will be more integrated into the dash. Console on the Alpha was pretty cool too, except for only having one cupholder. My dad's 1963 Rambler had a bench seat in the front with no console.

Consoles are cool. The slide-across gap (not so much). Just sayin. With that big-ol lcd hanging off the dash, you really need a console to anchor it down. Right?

Andrew18 | 06. Dezember 2011

100% agree!!

sunnysailor | 07. Dezember 2011

The Tron look will date quickly. If Tesla goes with the Tron look and one keeps the car long enough the style will come back- just like the remake of the movie. Or, maybe disco. I vote for a more enduring elegant look than Tron.

I would love to have a Hal voice as a voice option on the car. James Earl Jones and Judi Dench voices might also be interesting.

David70 | 07. Dezember 2011

Yes on James Earl Jones. Throw in a Darth Vader quote.

TikiMan | 08. Dezember 2011

@sunny sailor, Dave70,

"Hal voice", "Darth Vader"... Seriously, talk about dated! LOL!!!! We don't even use HAL9000 as a concept idea anymore in the in the entertainment industry. :-)

Like I said in a few of the post above, the TRON thing is just a metaphor for making the design of the car interior more like an exotic Porsche, verses a bland Buick.

Even Apple (one of the MOST successful companies on Earth) prefer to stick with a clean Futuristic design styles, over classic traditional styles.

Below is a web site that shows some cutting edge futuristic concept designs...

The reality is, 'classic-traditional' style is on it's way out.

Timo | 08. Dezember 2011

Apple sticks with traditional designs, just refine it a bit. There is nothing futuristic in Apple designs. That's what makes it so successful. That's unless you have some definition of futuristic that I consider being traditional.

Thumper | 08. Dezember 2011

Jaguar's navy blue leather looks really nice. I think it would be great with all the Tesla colors offered so far except the green.

TikiMan | 08. Dezember 2011


Straight lines, few curves, a lot of knobs and switches, and wood accents, would is what I refer to traditional design.

Last I checked, Apple wasn't implementing faux wood accents into their products.

ckessel | 08. Dezember 2011

WTF? What computer vendor has ever had "wood accents" on a product? That seems like a completely disingenuous comparison as a complete strawman for you to knock down.

EdG | 08. Dezember 2011

I don't envision wanting anything that will probably look oh-so 2012-ish by 2014. On the other hand, simplification and cleanliness can help, as in Scandinavian furniture vs. some more traditional styles (like old ball-and-foot designs). Disclosure: I learned woodworking at a school founded by a Danish Master Craftsman, Tage Frid.

Such cleanliness can be a new classic look, and doesn't necessarily go out of style in 6 months; rather it can last longer than traditional styles.

FWIW, I can't say the same for the designs in that web site mentioned above, I find many of the designs to be designs just to be different and new, and I can see where some of them are good to get other designers to pat you on the back, but that's all. Most of them are of no interest to me. Even the web site that shows them off doesn't work for me.

Back to Tesla: If the interior were redesigned to be sleek, clean, and comfortable, it could be very nice. It doesn't have to have wood grain finishes to be elegant. A good, coherent design of a car interior might well have to avoid wood finishes so as not to distract from the overall design.

Enough said. Especially since Tesla has most likely completed whatever design will be used, and we're just jabbering to fill the time till we see it.

Mycroft | 08. Dezember 2011

Well said EdG. Personally, I like real wood and I hope they offer that option for the trim. Banana leaf? Chrome? Piano black plastic? Meh.

Brian H | 08. Dezember 2011

That site is now over 2½ yrs old! That's all old outdated future stuff, now.

Timo | 08. Dezember 2011

@TikiMan, I have to say that with your definition no computer or related gadget manufacturer use "traditional" style. It's all futuristic by your definition. Which makes futuristic a traditional style. Kind of oxymoron don't you think?

petero | 10. Dezember 2011

TikiMan. You need to drink less coffee. The center console issue has been well addressed in other forums. This is not a make or break issue. Time to focus on delivery. Once again, Robert.Boston said it quite well.

“... to appease a bunch of old fogie caddy-gramps, who will NEVER really appreciate what this vehicle really is.” A significant number of “S” buyers will be over 50 years of age. Us old fogies invented the computer, internet, landed on the moon. Our level of appreciation may not be fully appreciated by some of our ungracious children.

Early adapters are adventurous and flexible. Five years from July 2012 the “S” will be much improved and cheaper. By the way, some of those old cars are quite spectacular. Check out a 1930’s Duesenberg or Cadillac. A 1950’s Jaguar X120,or a ‘60’s XKE are breathtaking- even after 50+ years. I would take a 1961 Ferrari SWB over any modern Ferrari, Lambo, or Veyron.

The “S” may not be perfect to everyone's taste, but you are nitpicking over trivial details.

TikiMan | 10. Dezember 2011


Yes, I know it has been addressed in a few post already, and the last time I checked, most of those post were directly related to the lack of center console, not as much about interior design. Like I said in a few of these post, I work on innovative future products that sell in the multi-millions of units, and make Billions of US dollars! So, I think I have a bit of an edge on design knowledge, and what makes products successful or what makes products fail. With that said, I am just trying to add my input (which as a deposit holder, and investor, I think gives me a right to my openion here on this forum).

I will agree, I am not part of the "baby-boomer" gen, but rather part of "Generation X", some of whom are currently changing the planet for the better, and cleaning up the mess. I believe Mr. Musk is a "Gen X".

Regardless, I love 'classic' cars just like the next average warm-blooded American male, however, I don't want to commute 150 miles a day in one either.

If Tesla sticks with the current interior design, fine, I am sure we can all live with it, however, the generation that will become the ones who will make Tesla a household name, might not (and I would hate to see that happen).

TikiMan | 10. Dezember 2011


Maybe, however, I think the majority of deposit holders here prefer "sporty" over "posh". I don't think the average deposit holder for this car were looking at Buick's and Caddy's, before making a deposit. Most of us saw the first Beta, and said... SOLD!

Timo | 10. Dezember 2011

For that I agree. Interiors need to be functional, what it looks like is secondary (though, really really ugly would drive some of them away).

OTOH to make that center screen look good doesn't need much. Just something to make it look less like it is hanging mid-air without any support changes it a lot.

Soflauthor | 10. Dezember 2011

@Timo: I agree that an interior must be functional. But I completely disagree that "what it looks like is secondary." The interior is a critical part of the Model S aesthetic. It should flow, all of its features should be integrated effortlessly, it must reflect the high tech, innovative nature of the vehicle itself.

You state that that "to make that center screen look good doesn't need much." Yes. It. Does. The beta interior needed a substantial redesign. We can only hope that TM did just that.

If the buzz on the Model S design after it hits the streets is "beautiful exterior, pedestrian interior," I suspect many potential buyers may pass—and that can't be a good thing.

Mark K | 12. Dezember 2011

The interior is not the equal of the body.

This is important enough to take action. The analogy to a beautiful woman comes to mind. A gorgeous body may first attract you, but what's inside is what makes you stick around.

The dash has dramatic innovation (17 inch touchscreen), but it's all bolted together without finesse and integration. There's no flow, as you see in abundance on the exterior.

The absence of a center console is also not right for this market segment. The bragging rights of no transmission tunnel are just as strong if you manifest the space in a generous console storage area.

That center space in the Beta is non-functional without enough boundary to define it. You'll never put your feet there, and you can't stow much stuff if it might tip into the pedal area. You need a bin with a cover, and that'll provide finish to the cabin, as well as leading up to the screen. This will still let you brag about how only an EV could give you this much storage.

This isn't a competency issue. The Alpha makes clear that the design team is smart and understands flow, and very sensual lines.

The Beta looks more like design by committee, where a soul-less logical checklist is driving the details instead of passion.

Will I still buy it? Yes. But the difference is you'll have lost me emotionally.

That would needlessly subdue the most evangelical early adopters. It's the "I want to love it, but .." problem. You mustn't lose this customer energy and momentum, particularly in the opening season.

TIme is certainly short and there is plenty to do. But a modest re-style of the dash is a low-order production challenge relative to the awesome engineering work on the driving dynamics and safety.

You can run a parallel tiger team on a more beautiful dash, and have them race to vie for the final release without risking your baseline version. The strategy can effectively manage the risk of delay.

Don't cave in to the logistics of the showroom Betas. No customer will bolt if you exceed what you first promised, even though it may have changed from the demo.

It'll cost some bucks to have the alternate tooled, but in this case, my view is the customer perception leverage is so huge that it's well worth it.

Most of my posts say don't worry about this or that ... don't get distracted, just focus and deliver.

Worry about this one.

Inside is where we fall in love with the car.

Peak Oil bruin | 12. Dezember 2011

spot on Mark K, form following function is still a good thing,
design polizei must prevail,
even Bang&Olufsen missteps

Soflauthor | 12. Dezember 2011

@Mark K: You've nicely summarized dozens and dozens of comments about the importance of a comprehensive interior redesign for the Production Model S. Let's hope that the TM design team has listened. They absolutely MUST "worry about this one."

ncn | 18. Dezember 2011

Frankly? I like the wood look. And I like the lack of center console. And I like futuristic.

I think some people have an obsolete concept of futuristic. :-) Some of these suggestions remind me of people clamoring for more plastic in the 1950s (plastic interiors were a added-cost upgrade). That was not well thought out.

NO CENTER CONSOLE. The center console is an obnoxious, terrible idea designed to hide an ICE drivetrain which doesn't exist. Mark it off with some slightly raised edges so we can put our bags there without them slipping under our feet, provide us with a removable box to put there, but leave it at that. For one thing, it makes it easier to get stuff out from under the seat....

Heck, if it weren't for the critical importance of having a highly adjustable driver's seat, and the safety requirement for headrests (and yes, we need an adjustable headrest), I'd suggest bench seating in the front.

I agree about clean flowing lines, but I really think that can be done without aping the style of what's trendy today in ICEs. "Form follows function", indeed, and the clamor for a center console is the *opposite* of form following function. Redesigning the glovebox to be a more functional compartment (most gloveboxes are terrible, and Tesla's appears to be no exception), on the other hand, would be form following function.

Crow | 18. Dezember 2011

Just make the screen a more gracefully incorporated into the dash and it looks great.

Mark K | 19. Dezember 2011

Finishes, wood or otherwise, are a configuration option like paint color. That's an individual choice to suit personal taste, which Tesla already supports.

As to the headrests? Even an Aston Martin Rapide at $225K has integral headrests, and they feel pretty wonderful. Done well, this design is simpler, stronger, and flows more beautifully. Tesla made an intelligent choice here.

The console is different. It's architectural foundation for the interior experience. It links the longitudinal flow up the center of the cabin with the lateral flow across the dash. It unifies the elements to make them all of a piece, and it anchors the touchscreen.

Because that screen is the largest in the history of automobile design, it is uniquely important to the Model S to anchor and integrate it.

Sometimes, you have to be bold about breaking with tradition to make things better. But to warrant a radical change, it must be truly better, not simply different.

The boldly bigger screen is better. Floating it precariously is not.

Ergonomically too, the lack of a console provides no elbow rest as you browse the controls. The same arm fatigue Issues that arise are the reason Apple does not put touchscreens on laptops.

The EV is not defined by this design liberty. Front wheel drive luxury cars have long practiced consoles even though they too could have left that space empty. They didn't.

A century of evolution defined this aspect of interior layout. Consoles + personal front seats with lateral support prevail because people like it. It cradles the driver in a cocoon that makes him feel at one with the machine.

Drivers simply prefer it,

If you want to win the heart of the driving enthusiast, find a way to do it.