What's up with the wood trim options (or lack of anything appealing...)

What's up with the wood trim options (or lack of anything appealing...)

I have been on this forum for a while and can't wait I get my own Model S. I decided to get rid of our E550 for a Model S as soon as we test drove a P85. We are just waiting on the availability of AWD to make the switch and we love the Model S so much we decided to pass over the S550 we were about to buy.

We are generally used to the interior trim of a higher end Mercedes and the minimalist interior of the Model S has grown on me though I hope they upgrade and improve it over time to compete more effectively with the S class, as that's the other car we were considering buying.

The one interior aspect of the Model S that neither me nor my girlfriend have absolutely any liking for are the interior wood trim options. We basically don't like any of them. At all. Obeche Wood is the trim option that we dislike the least so that's what we'd get but I'm curious if others actually loved any of the wood trim options or just picked one that you disliked the least like we will end up doing.

I hope they add some other wood trim options that would go better with a tan interior. There has to be other wood trim options that look better...

And if you like the current wood trim options, that is great. And I do know the Model S has a lot more to offer and that's why we have decided to get one so there's no need to go there. I'm purely curious to see if me and my girlfriend are in the minority in disliking all the wood trim options currently being offered.

Whatever the case I hope Tesla continues to improve and make better the interior of the best production car available to buy -- EV or not. We were so happy to hear the seats will be improved shortly as that's just about the only other thing about the Model S interior that we disliked.

karmamule | 23 June, 2014

I wasn't fond of any of the wood trim options either, but fortunately I quite liked the default Piano black. I've heard it's quite the fingerprint magnet, but I'll keep a microfiber cloth handy for that and from every picture of it I've seen so far I think I'll be quite happy. | 23 June, 2014

Glad you're thinking about the Model S! While rumors of a AWD Model S have been around for a while, there's no known date, so it could be years off (or tomorrow). I think the collective best guess is sometime after the Model X, as they will need similar software and hardware that's currently under development.

Many have reported that the Model S as-is offers close to AWD performance, but AWD is not something I've ever needed or tested. So you might consider what's available now, or the Model X, which will have AWD, but is likely a year away if you order right now.

As to wood, that's such a personal choice, I don't know what help anyone will be in that regard. I sort of got tired of the luxury super-high gloss wood in many cars. I have lacewood, and I still feel it's the best choice for me. Unusual without looking weird. The interior color choice may make a difference too (I have gray), so perhaps someone will chime in that has the tan interior.

Dwdnjck@ca | 23 June, 2014

I just spent $13500 to upgrade my S from 40 to 60. The main reason was having to drive my wife's E-Class on road trips. I could care less that her dash has nicer trim. BTW she did get the upgraded trim package.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@karmamule: "Piano black" is what my girlfriend prefers -- not because she loves it, but because she dislikes the other wood trim options so much more.

I personally don't like Piano Black because I like seeing the grain and patterns in the wood and black seems too stark and lacks the detail I like to be visible in the wood trim. I can see how it would look elegant though if you like it.

The wood veneers in cars are extremely thin and they are generally attached to a plastic backing that attaches to the dashboard. I wonder if it is possible to replace the wood trim with something we like by taking apart the wood trim attachment.

hikerockies | 23 June, 2014

Wood is a very personal like/dislike. I have never seen any wood in any car (MB, Audi, BMW, Honda, Hyundai.......) that I liked. I am glad there is at least one non-wood interior trim option. I bought two Model S, both with piano black trim.

pabeader | 23 June, 2014

@web_srfr. I was just thinking the same thing. Pop off the trim, apply contact paper of your liking. Reapply trim. Now to find out if it's possible.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014 Thanks for the info! Yes, I am quite familiar with the capabilities of the Model S in Norway but I'm really stubborn about wanting AWD when I buy a Model S. Partly the reason is I keep cars for about 5-6 years and I really want a P85 with AWD. It will help with the acceleration of the car in all weather conditions and from what I hear the AWD system in the MX will have electric torque vectoring and will arguably be the best AWD implementation of AWD in a car and I want that same system in the Model S I buy.

As for the wood trim options it is subjective, I know, but as Elon himself said it is nice to buy a car that you absolutely love and the interior is a bigger deal for me than for most people. I've bought into the minimalist interior of the Model S but I'm just surprised to find that both me and my girlfriend dislike any of the available wood trim options.

HurricaneFodder | 23 June, 2014

+1 Hikerockies. Carbon fiber or piano were our only options and I went for the piano black. I love the way it looks with the black leather.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@HurricaneFodder: I can see how people who prefer black interiors would like the piano black wood trim option. I always prefer lighter colored interiors so we'll be going with the tan interior and are having a hard time not absolutely disliking any of the available wood trim options.

I'm curious if Tesla has part numbers for the wood trim pieces of the Model S. We could then perhaps just buy that in piano black and then send it to a person who works with wood to replace the piano black wooden portion of the trim with our choice of wood.

jordanrichard | 23 June, 2014

Most MB interiors particularly the S-Class have burl walnut which probably wouldn't fit in with the clean modern design of the MS's interior.

To meet safety standards the veneers are glued to an aluminum plate to minimize splintering in the event of an accident.

This should be a simple matter of swapping the pieces out, if Tesla were offer it as an accessory item, much like the chrome threshold pieces for the frunk and trunk. | 23 June, 2014

Carbon fiber wasn't an option when I bought the car (which I thought was the best looking choice), and I considered replacing the existing wood with carbon fiber to get that look.

It's possible with some work. The dash 'wood' parts are mounted to metal, and screwed into the dash. You can get access to the screws by pulling off the lower padded panels (they also have one screw to remove). There is wood also under the cubby and under the center arm rests, but these are less visible, and likley can be ignored. I suspect they would be a lot more work to replace.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@Jordan: That would be great if they offered an accessory trim pieces that you can buy and install. Does Tesla have part numbers for the wood trim pieces that we can buy separately and send to a someone who works with wood trims?

If it were possible I think Black Ash Burl Wood or Bird's Eye Maple would look really elegant in a Model S with a tan interior. It would also look more distinctive than the typical burl walnut of a typical s class.

Sample of bird's eye maple:

Sample of Black Ash Burl:

dborn | 23 June, 2014

@WEB_SRFR - I SYMPATHISE!!! check out thread "modifications" in TMC under "Australia"!! I have made a set of custom trim options. It was a heck of a lot of work, not to mention the research required for adhesives, and finishes!! Involved the use of a vacuum press. The total veneer thickness over the plastic substrate is 1mm!! that includes timber, adhesive and finish!! The passenger side trim is exceptionally complex in its geometry.
The factory was good enough to send out the substrates because i really disliked all choices. Even the lacewood is so heavily stained that all that remains is the grain pattern. Australian lacewood (or silky oak) is a lovely reddish brown colour. Obeche is a super cheap timber (also heavily stained) whose main virtue is consistency of grain pattern.
The substrates are made from ABS plastic for the dash, glass filled nylon for the centre console (armrest), and aluminium for the yacht floor. Adhesives were indeed a challenge!! That which I settled on was a specific epoxy (said NOT to be suitable for nylon, but works because of the glass within the plastic!!), as well as super glue (cyanoacryllic) for small areas not held by the epoxy.
I am getting a Sig (when they eventually decide to build our cars - mine is a confirmed order), and i chose carbon fiber as the best of a bad bunch, and because there was no extra to pay for it.

Red Sage ca us | 23 June, 2014

Somehow, every review I had seen of the Tesla Model S was for a car with either the Obeche Wood Matte, or Carbon Fiber interior trim. I preferred the wood to the carbon fiber.

I liked that it didn't have that obviously fake plastic wood look that has been so popular the past 25 years. Wood interiors in general, from every auto manufacturer though, just pale in comparison to what is offered in a Rolls-Royce or Bentley. They always seem to be pretenders, because they are...

I didn't realize until I really paid attention that there was the Piano Black trim as standard. I prefer that over all the rest, and I'm ever so happy it doesn't cost extra.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@dborn: So YOU UNDERSTAND:) I share your opinion of the lacewood and Obeche trims. The Obeche wood looks super cheap and generic.

Did you figure out if it is feasible to replace the wood trim after all the research you did or is it really almost impossibly difficult? I knew the wood trim pieces were super thin when I watched a video a while ago about how they build the interior of a Bentley but 1mm is crazy thin! I doubt a typical wood working person can slice a strip that thin without specialized machinery.

I hope Tesla offers better wood trim options at some point.

plusplusjames | 23 June, 2014

I think this is one of several limitations of the Model S. My Audi A6 had a really nice burlwood and there was no such option with the S. So the Carbon Fiber was my choice. Looks sleek, modern, and reminds me of houndstooth.

dborn | 23 June, 2014

You can purchase veneers at .6mm, which is what I did. It is, I would say, impossible to make the trims out of solid timber. The both bolt in from below, and have multiple clips on the back. (much like the nose cone fixings). fitting the ones I have made will require the lower half of the dash padding to be removed but the rest should be straight forward. I understand that there are 2 bolts and multiple clips holding the dash pad under the steering wheel, and maybe 6 bolts and clips for the passenger side. The yacht floor simply slides in and is held by a neoprene rubber backing as an interference fit - no fixings. The ridges are actually rubber protrusions from a neoprene backing mat.
So, in answer to your question, there would be little reason and minimal difficulty replacing the trims after market if Tesla chose to sell multiple options!!
Without the moulded substrate, it is impossibly difficult.
The centre console has instructions for changing out on Evannex's web site, for their PARZ armrest swap out.
By the way, i have 8 coats of finish on my pieces, and to look at, you really don't realise how really thin the veneer actually is. I humbly submit that it looks really good and quite solid. It is all in the type of timber.
Yes, birds eye maple is gorgeous and would look good. I would avoid burls of any type because of the amount of bending required and the potential for burls to crack/snap in multiple places. (Even solid veneers do this!! | 23 June, 2014

@dborn - Wow, really impressive. For others, the link is:

I'm amazed you did all this before you even got the car! Pulling it apart to get to these is not too bad, although I've been unable to get the right side bottom panel off, although I found for my project I didn't need to. The snaps Tesla uses (and I'm sure other car companies too) are really strong.

For some tips to getting your custom parts installed, see my write up on adding a sub-woofer, where I pull apart the left side dash:

For the trim under the arm rests, the PARZ cup holder installation should be quite helpful too:

I hope you'll post some pictures when you get your car and install the new inserts.

hcwhy | 23 June, 2014

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have Grey leather interior with lacewood, and I think it looks great...relaxed and comfortable. It has a dark grey/brown color which would look good with the tan as well, IMHO.

jinglehyme | 23 June, 2014

As a designer, I think the Matte Obeche wood is very upscale and an excellent choice - and IMO certainly more interesting than anything MB puts out. Audi is more modernist and to me more akin to Tesla to my eye. That gaudy flashy faux-lux show you seem to desire can be found on a array of GM vehicles -including Cadillac of you dare.

dborn | 23 June, 2014

Jinglehyme, sorry, natural materials left natural as possible will always beat faux. It is when they try to copy natural with faux that it looks terribly tacky. That is the case with most modern car brands except for, of course Marques like Rolls Royce/Bentley and maybe a couple of others. Obeche is a very down market timber, and as I indicated above, has been ruined by stain as has lacewood, which otherwise might have been a reasonable option.

dborn | 23 June, 2014

Tesla Tap, certainly will post once installed! With Sig red and white upholstery, I am hoping for a very unique appearance!

SUN 2 DRV | 23 June, 2014

I too would have liked a nicer rich wood to create a luxury look. But I chose the Carbon Fiber to create a sporty look since I have the Red exterior.

SeattleSid | 23 June, 2014

I had a Jag for a while, and loved its wood. Didn't really like the wood choices for the MS and went piano black. FWIW, it only gets fingerprints if you touch it, and since there's really no reason to do so, it's not been a problem.

jinglehyme | 23 June, 2014

dborn - You are simply wrong. Audi has been the benchmark for interior design for about a decade -at least for those in the know. My last Audi had matte walnut - the perception of luxury, is always in eye of the beholder. "Rolls Royce/Bentley" those are joke cars for silly snobs and new-money posers. Come on now. Let's get real. Luxury is in minimalism, not in creepy lux-fest pretense. Bet you think all the best designed homes are in Beverly Hills too.....

Captain_Zap | 23 June, 2014

I think that Tesla was shooting for more environmentally friendly interiors. We have a huge burl and maple poaching problem here, so I understand that.

At one point, an option was a "banana leaf" interior but it didn't hold up the way Tesla had hoped.

I do like the obeche with the light interior. I heard that they changed the grain direction. I haven't seen how the grain direction change looks with the light interiors yet.

jinglehyme | 23 June, 2014

@captain_zap -

That Banana leaf that was floating around early on was very attractive, my first choice. Needn't be rare or precious to be attractive and luxurious.

NKYTA | 23 June, 2014

To be enviro friendly, they should probably offer a Bamboo trim.
But I'll stick with the carbon fiber.

hcwhy | 23 June, 2014

Good idea about the bamboo, NKYTA.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@dborn, I completely agree with you about Obeche wood being a "down market" wood trim. For reference, enclosed below is a photo of the interior of the 2015 Chevrolet Malibu, and yes the wood trim is Obeche and to me, it looks just as boring and unremarkable as the wood trim in the Tesla. I think the Tesla deserves a higher end wood trim :)

Obeche is the wood trim option that both me and my girlfriend dislike the least and that's what we'll end up getting just because that's all we have to pick from. Especially considering that the Model S is the world's best car, I think it would be great if it was available with more distinctive wood trim options as it would elevate the luxurious feel of the interior of the car.

AmpedRealtor | 23 June, 2014

I also did not like the wood options. I went for carbon fiber.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

I really wish I liked carbon fiber but I much rather prefer the warm feeling of distinctive wood in the interior of the car. I know some really like the carbon fiber trim and this is not to take away from those who appreciate it but I personally feel it looks too "inorganic" for my taste.

Based on the responses so far it seems me and my girlfriend are not the only two people who dislike all of the available wood trim options with the Model S. I hope when they get around to refreshing the interior, Tesla will add more luxurious/higher end wood trim options. The world's best car deserves better wood trim :)

This is something small Tesla can do to elevate the interior refinement of the Model S. In the meantime I hope at the least there is some option to purchase the substrate layer of the wood trim so I can have someone outfit it with Bird's Eye Maple or Black Ash Burl wood trim. Either of those wood veneers would look especially great with the tan interior we plan to get.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

PS: Imagine if we could purchase "accessory wood trim" from a selection of available wood veneers like the options available on the following Web page...

Carpathian Elm Burl would look incredible on a Tesla with a tan interior.

I think someone can setup a nice business selling custom wood trim pieces to replace the factory trim! Maybe @dborn will consider doing this after all the extensive research he had done on this matter :)

carlk | 23 June, 2014

Carbon fiber worked fine for me. It's more sporty rather than luxury but that fits the clean minimalist MS interior style real good imo.

Tiebreaker | 23 June, 2014

Why do you need wood in a 21st century electric car?

carlk | 23 June, 2014

@Tiebreaker You took words right out my mouth.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@Tiebreaker: Why would anyone want anything? Obviously because they like it. Are you suggesting that because the Tesla is an "electric car," it needs to somehow look all campy and edgy?

Why would someone need wood in a car? Because they prefer it and appreciate the beauty of it. The reason the Model S is such a success is because it is presented and received as a no compromise premium car in the luxury car segment that happens to be electric.

Most luxury car buyers, myself included, prefer a luxurious interior and for a certain segment of that population an attractive wood trim is desirable. The fact that you apparently see no value in it does not mean others share your opinion.

I started this thread to see if other customers were also displeased with the available wood trim options for the Model S and based on the replies, that seems to be the case> Someone has actually gone to the trouble of creating alternate wood trim segments for the Model S because they were so displeased with the available wood trim options.

I don't care what century it is -- I just like the look and feel of certain types of wood. The same applies for many other people looking to purchase a luxury vehicle.

I get that the Model S is more minimalist than other cars but there is no reason that it should only be available with the same wood trim as a Chevrolet Malibu.

LEvans | 23 June, 2014

@carlk wrote: "Carbon fiber worked fine for me. It's more sporty rather than luxury but that fits the clean minimalist MS interior style real good imo."


Oh how nice that carbon fiber worked for you :) Good for you that you like a sporty interior with the carbon fiber. And it must be so wonderful that you were able to get what you wanted. Ever considered someone else may want the same satisfaction but might have slightly different taste?

Perhaps it did not occur to you but there are people with different tastes. I was speaking on behalf of other customers who are not looking for a "sporty" interior but rather a more luxurious interior. For such customers, based on the replies so far, many who prefer wood trim are especially pleased with the selection of wood trim options available.

So maybe you should continue to enjoy your carbon fiber and your "sporty" interior and let those who prefer wood trim to figure out if it is possible to get alternate wood trim that they actually like in their cars.

After all everyone deserves to be equally pleased with the interior of their world's best car, the Model S.

NomoDinos | 23 June, 2014

WEB_SRFR: I would also prefer a nicer wood interior. I'd never heard of Carpathian Elm Burl before, but it looks beautiful. Ultimately, I optioned out my car with carbon fiber simply because I thought it would be better to have a clean look than a wood panel that reminded me of my 1984 Buick Century (although I did love that car at the time :)

I set my delivery date as March 2014 as my cutoff in case AWD and different trim options come out, but after that I'm giving up. I'm a pretty patient fellow, but I can't stand the waiting much longer!

dborn | 23 June, 2014

I agree that banana leaf was a good appearing option. I DID point out that natural is best. Bamboo, especially with obvious nodes and left natural would also be more than acceptable to me. That is why i have chosen carbon fibre. In case my custom pieces are a bust, then i can go back to a factory appearance I can live with. If we are going synthetic, then at least be real about the synthetic material. lets not pretend one thing, plastic, is something else, wood.

crmohler | 24 June, 2014

I also didn't like any of the wood trims, so ended up with piano black. I would love it, except it constantly shows particles of dust. I use the cloth on it constantly, but it still shows dust. I still think it was the best of the options for me since I have grey exterior with black textile interior.

A few days ago, I had the yacht floor installed. I did it because I found that it was hard to keep the carpet clean in the standard floor (it's hard to vacuum, as I've found the whole car to be). I decided I didn't want to see particles on the yacht floor, so I went with the obeche matte trim. I actually love the combination. The obeche matte looks great with the textile.

I wasn't sure about mixing the finishes but I really like it, and am really happy with the look and function of the new yacht floor.

Mark K | 24 June, 2014


People don't need to justify why something pleases their eye. It simply does.

What works for one person, may not for another. Which is why a built-to-order car should offer plenty of choice.

These panels are snapped into place late in the build process, and it would not be a significant manufacturing burden to offer more choices.

I came from a string of Mercedes roadsters that had massive hunks of walnut burl, which was quite beautiful. When I looked at the choices for our two Model S cars, I went with lacewood and black leather for both.

It was quite a change for me, but I ended up quite happy with it. In some ways, it helped make this car distinct to what came before it.

The vertical grain wood I always felt was a mistake, and Franz has since come around and made it horizontal to harmonize with the flow of the dash. Those new obeche gloss horizontal grain dashes look very good IMHO.

There is so much else that is so satisfying about this car, that the differences from convention in wood trim become immaterial.

That said, I do think Tesla should offer custom veneers for an up charge. They could even farm it out to a woodworking vendor by supplying the substrate blanks, and then just snap them in at build time.

It's a a simple way to make some folks even happier with their new cars. Why not do it?

ScottyNeutron | 24 June, 2014

I like the Obeche wood. It was an architectural element used in the sixties, and I find it quite refreshing compared to the overly brownish woods typically used in other high end luxury cars. In fact, if Tesla had chosen to make their interiors more MB-like or more Lexus-like, I'd find that too contrived and cliche.

pabeader | 24 June, 2014

@dborn - Just a little hint from a woodworker. A little steam can be a friend when you are trying to do bends in burly wood. I've been able to create very complex designs with the knottiest of wood. I use a 4" PVC pipe as a steam chamber and just put the veneer pieces in there for a minute or two. If you get the fixturing right, the wood will set in whatever position it cools. Then you won’t need so much glue and pressure to get the veneer to stay in place.

LEvans | 24 June, 2014

@Mark K: Thanks for your insights. I didn't realize they changed the grain of the Obeche wood to be horizontal and I agree that works much better with the lines of the car. Though it is an improvement it is still the same Obeche wood that the Chevrolet Malibu ships with.

I hope they offer some distinctive wood trim options more worthy of the rest of the car but i agree with you that the Model S overall is better than anything else out there even with the Obeche wood. I just wish I could get a wood trim that I love rather than barely tolerate.

I am wondering if the designers of the Model S have a preference for black interiors and the wood trim choices are a reflection of that. The existing trims I think would actually look not so bad with a black interior but for a tan interior I can think of several other more luxurious and distinctive looking wood trim options.

Worst case scenario does anyone know if I can acquire the wood trim substrates from Tesla? I can then acquire the wood veneer I want and have a woodworking expert install it for me in the substrate that I can then have installed in the car. Would make for a really distinctive looking interior :)

I bet this is a nice business opportunity for someone as few who prefer wood seem to be happy with the available choices.

pabeader | 24 June, 2014

@web_srfr - I think dborn said he was able to get them, so it seems it is possible.

JAD | 24 June, 2014

Audi is considered to have the best interiors of any manufacturer and I happily paid a lot extra to get their 'titanium' package which got us the special 'piano black' interior. We really liked it and were thrilled Tesla not only offered it, but it was standard. That never happens!

Of course, both the Audi and MS are black/black, so the piano really works for us, but it is purely a personal preference and you can NEVER please everyone.

As for fingerprints, you will spend a lot more time cleaning the center display than the trim... | 24 June, 2014

As is typical in these discussions, the dissatisfied naturally dominate the conversation. It's interesting that people feel there is a limited choice. When I got my Infiniti M, I had 1 choice of wood for the exterior color chosen.

I have lacewood with my tan interior and love it. The non-glossy wood doesn't show dust nor have distracting reflections.

I wonder what the real percentage of owners are dissatisfied with choices?

I guess that's why companies like exist (no Tesla kits yet).

DTsea | 24 June, 2014

Love my matte obeche trim.

LEvans | 24 June, 2014

@GaryREM: I'm not sure this is a case of the dissatisfied naturally dominating the conversation. Both me and my girlfriend both absolutely dislike all the available wood trim options and I find that odd for a car that we both otherwise absolutely love.

Also we've heard many viewpoints on the topic but there is a growing consensus based on the comments on this thread that many other customers are just as uninspired by the available wood trim options and like us ended up getting the wood trim they disliked the least.

For those who like Obeche wood, that is great but it is a fact that it is a down market wood trim. It is the wood trim used in the Chevrolet Malibu and lacks the distinctive detail and patterns found in other wood veneers used in cars in this price range.

Granted I'm sure some are happy with the Obeche wood but it would be nice to have a better alternative for those who want it.

Like I said earlier I think the existing trims work better with black interiors but I can imagine more distinctive and luxurious wood veneers for the world's best car in a tan interior :)