17 screen in the center console

17 screen in the center console

I think we need to make sure Tesla knows about their subpar center console. Let’s use this forum to constructively criticize it. For me this is not a deal breaker, but I actually like the pre-alpha center console much more than Beta 1.
Here are two pictures of the pre-alpha:

Here is a picture of a beta 1:

Notice how there is an empty space right below the 17 inch screen? Reminds me of old Cadillac:

Also, the rectangular shape of the 17 inch screen just does not fit nicely. It should have curves or rounded corners.
Compare the interior console of other cars here:

gjunky | October 18, 2011

@Robert: I think that design works too but I also think it will be a step back from having a purely software controlled design although I understand you can still change the display and just use the edge buttons differently. Buttons along the edge won't allow controls like up/down and slider controls.

EdG | October 18, 2011

@Robert.Boston: Nice idea. I've used two Lexus's (Lexi?), one with the buttons around the periphery of the touch-screen GPS, one with the buttons on-screen, as shown thus far on the Model S. The advantages of the off-screen buttons was a (1) space saving for actual graphics on the screen, so it didn't take up all the space for virtual buttons, and (2) you could just feel for the spot to push. The disadvantage was that the label was on the button, so if you couldn't tell one from another in the dark, you had to turn on cabin lighting to see what they said (they weren't backlit).

If the trim was composed of long buttons (programmable LED color backlit?) it would add a lot of options to counter the arguments (in this forum) that predefined hard buttons are needed -- all except the software failure argument.

Brian H | October 18, 2011


WhiteKnight | October 19, 2011

I don't know if I said this already but the Model S has three different input methods:

(1) There are two scrolling click wheels on each side of the steering wheel that (like a mouse) control everything on the screen.
(2) The touch screen itself has haptic feedback so when you touch something it vibrates.
(3) There is voice control so you can speak your request and the system will fulfill it (best it can).

I think these three methods combined beat 1,000 buttons any day.

And the hidden benefit of this system is that they can add features (like driver adjustable regeneration) with a software/firmware upgrade for EXISTING customers. If you were reliant on buttons you would have to buy a new model that had the new button installed.

WhiteKnight | October 19, 2011

And by the way, please Tesla, do NOT add a fat center console running from the dashboard to between the seats. My knees thank you and my wife will too with a place to put her purse. More storage cubbies / compartments under the screen - yes. Massive center console's found on ICE cars - no thank you.

robert | October 19, 2011

Well, I fall into the group that likes the Alpha design better than the Beta. No doubt the computer interface is great, but I think the dash looks chintzy, and it could be a deal breaker for me. After all, you spend more time inside the car and it has to be pleasing. I was looking forward to my Model S, but if the Beta design prevails, my enthusiasm will be diminished.

jbunn | October 19, 2011

I prefer the beta. Car does not have a tranmission, why design around a transmission hump?. The designers are free fom ICE limitations. It should look open.

Zeed | October 19, 2011

Why do people equate the center console with ICE cars? - as if the centrally located gear selector is an incarnation of burning gas.  In fact, the center console concept is not a needed component in any car past, present or (foreseeable) future.  Historically, automobiles have had their gear selectors in the center, on the steering column, by the driver's foot, even partially obstructing the driver's entry into the vehicle.

The current form of the center console is an evolution of ergonomics, aesthetics and function. This is the design summation of a multi-billion dollar industry across three centuries of technological advancement and the physical relationship between man and machine. Even the pure EV has at least the PRND modes to locate - WHY NOT put this in the center? Just to play "devil's advocate"...?

The concept of the center console just makes sense. It's a convenient place to readily access the car's features and to temporarily place personal items. It's a way for the human driver to connect to the machine vehicle in a physical (and emotional) way. Its a gateway to the soul of the car; a temple to access its power and command of it our will. The beta 1's lack of a well designed console will only serve to distance our relationship with, or otherwise impair, our "car-primal" communication with and love of the beast.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but fundamentally it is not. "Beauty" is why we have supermodels, master painters, symphonies, and oh yes - the Model S exterior. No sensible person in history has called Michelangelo's "La Pieta" slapped together or Beethoven's "Symphony no.5" half witted.. I've never seen or heard anything but unanimous and simultaneous praise for the Beta's exterior - a true masterpiece.

This is nothing personal. I do not wish better of the model S interior to increase my driving satisfaction of the vehicle.. I can prove this as I am not a reservation holder. I do, however, have a vested interest in the company's success, which I genuinely believe to be much more likely with a beautifully designed center console (as well as a place for my wife to put her purse) - - who said they had to be mutually exclusive?? If you truly want Tesla to best forge a new path toward an energy independent future, be a trend setter in terms of how we operate our cars and crush its competition, you ought to encourage an indisputably beautiful console - not play "devil's advocate" because the center console is ".. a stupid holdover from ICE cars." - It just isn't.

Soflauthor | October 20, 2011

Well said, @Zeed. I agree completely.

To carry your argument a bit further, a good designer (in any discipline) makes use of "design patterns" that solve specific and predictable design problems. He or she also reuses design components that have been proven effective and highly functional as part of the implementation of a design pattern. If the implementation of the design pattern improves the elegance and market acceptance of the end-product, so much the better.

An integrated center console is a reusable design component that has been proven effective and highly functional element in an ergonomic driver environment design pattern used in luxury cars of all types. The Tesla designers can certainly modify the console component to integrate an innovative 17 inch display in their version of the ergonomic driver environment pattern, but jettisoning it because it has been used in ICE cars would be nothing more than an attempt to be different without regard to ergonomic impact, aesthetics, or market viability.

My5bAby | October 20, 2011

With all do respect, come on guys, are we going to be driving or playing Angry Birds ! The interaction with the controls while driving should be minimal. Since participating in this post I've been careful to pay attention to how I do things in my current vehicle. I always look at the knobs, even if just for a second. Let's stop pretending that a boarder, physical buttons or anything else will allow us to operate (for example) the radio without looking. I don't think i have ever "felt my way around the dash" to do something so I did not have to glance away from the road. Window wipers & turning signals are placed on stalks for that very reason. These are controls that we use often and don't need to take our eyes off of the road.

Another 2 cents

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Brad Holt | October 20, 2011

Great point. Now that I think about it, I always glance over just long enough to remember where the knobs and buttons are before going for it with my hand.

Brian H | October 20, 2011

I also note that adjustments are done by the driver (unless truly brain-dead, as some are) when not engaged in maneuvers (turning, accelerating, braking, etc.) Buttons or screen, nature tends to cull those who do rather effectively.

That said, many have enough faith in their peripheral vision to center-focus elsewhere for several seconds. There's a penalty in response time for that, and it often causes accidents.

JimmyN | October 20, 2011

Let me start off by saying that I am very excited about the concept and potential of the Model S.

IMHO, I like how the armrest extends into the center console found in the second pre-alpha pic. The way it wraps into the screen and even into the instrument cluster makes it look much more like a “driver oriented” car. I believe many high end “driver’s” cars are designed with that in mind. I don’t get that same feeling with the new Beta design.

I understand the arguments made that because there’s no drivetrain running down the middle, there’s no need for the bulge – but I don’t think a big gap in the area is an effective use. Sure, people have said they can put their laptop cases or purses in there so it doesn’t have to roll around – and that’s a legitimate use for it (depending on how high up the sides go, cause you don’t want it rolling into the driver’s footwell and heaven forbid you get a cell phone stuck under the brakes or something! Or even the mere idea of having to reach down to get something out of there while you’re driving!)

I do have a suggestion though – One thing that I think about is my wife’s Acura RDX with its locking center console under the center armrest (and I’m sure a number of other vehicles have it). Has a cigarette lighter plug (we don’t smoke, but is good for plugging in charging accessories – i.e. ipod charger); I think newer ones have USB plugs in them; we keep a cooler bag in there.

But consider this, if you opt for a panoramic roof, there’s a LOT of windows and really no place to hide any valuables other than the “frunk”.

As far as “mechanical buttons” – I don’t think they’re completely obsolete. I’ll feel out a button every now and then to hit the “next track” button or activate a seat warmer. (Great place is where there seems to be buttons on Pre-Alpha pics). Less necessity to have to change screens to get to the proper screen to control whatever function you want. (i.e. if you’re on the car control screen and want to change tracks on the music.)

I’m guessing that these arguments (or this thread for that matter) are probably irrelevant now – considering it looks like they’re pretty set with the design. But that’s my $0.02. Nevertheless, still can’t wait to get the car!

Volker.Berlin | October 26, 2011

@Steve Alkana and everybody else who is fond of the Mercedes E class interior and its host of "physical" buttons, you may have the option to choose an electric E class in the not-too-distant future. And it will even feature a Tesla battery pack (nothing has been said about the rest of the drive train):

rdgreene | October 26, 2011

I have to disagree with the argument that drivers always look at controls! I drive a manual, and I certainly don't look at the gear shift when I shift. I know where that is! I also know where the bank of buttons for picking radio presets is, and I don't look at those either when I use them. The same applies (of course) for steering wheel mounted controls for wipers, turn signal, etc -- as well as behind the steering wheel mounted controls for lights, door locks, etc.

The types of controls that I have to look at to use are either ones that provide me data/feedback (ie: a GPS, a digital setting for temperature or radio station, etc) or that I only use once in a blue moon and have to "find" to use (the band control on my radio, defrosters, etc).

I think the 17" iPad-alike is tremendously sexy, but as a driver, I also think I want to resist the siren call of something that demands my attention focus into the interior of the car for any significant amount of time. I certainly am scared by the thought of my fellow drivers reading the New York Times off their web browser while driving around at 130 mph!!

Kallisman | October 26, 2011

To read a newspaper while driving a car has been possible for many many years, and some ppl do that. Usually in slow traffic, I believe. Is it more dangerous to read it on a fixed monitor, then on a big paper between the driver and the steering wheel? Dangerous drivers are out there, and that has a lot more to do with driver mentality then technology.

brianman | October 26, 2011

Apologies to rdgreene for intentionally quoting him incompletely, but I found it amusing when I lazily misread his comment on my first pass...

"I have to disagree with the argument that drivers always look at controls! ... I don't look at .. The steering wheel ..."

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this simple starting point: The steering wheel is something you don't generally look at while in motion. Many things directly related to driving fit in this category.

stephen.kamichik | October 26, 2011

My 1999 BMW 328i has dozens of controls. Newer BMWs have fewer controls because of the idrive technology. I think Tesla's 17" screen is much more user friendly than BMW's idrive technology.

Robert.Boston | October 27, 2011

So let's take this to the logical conclusion:

Get rid of the steering wheel
Move the 17" touchpad to be directly in front of the driver
Use gestures on the touchpad to steer the car

There are some functions for which a physical, tactile control is best. It's good that Tesla is thinking hard about recategorizing which functions those should be; at the same time, I personally would err on the side of caution. (A trait that Elon Musk clearly doesn't share....)

Robert.Boston | October 27, 2011

Hmmm, the forum software ate the [joke] [/joke] faux-HTML tags in my previous post... Don't take that suggestion seriously!

Red shift | October 27, 2011

I think the comments about tactile feedback are right on.

Fundamentals of driver's cabin ergonomics teaches us that there should not be too many similar size buttons, and the reason is, a person forms a tactile and positional memory based on size, shape.. All this is done to aid safety.

There have been iDrive, Komand etc in the past, but they have always been accompanied by a few buttons.

Not sure how Stephen kamichi concludes ' the 17" touch screen sans any buttons' is 'better', especially since this car has not been driven by any of us yet. Operating a touch interface while sedentary is far easier than when moving.

ckessel | October 27, 2011

I prefer the prototype's look myself as well. I also tend to rest my right knee against the center console while driving. I also tend to keep the seat low and a bit reclined, so I'm a worried the Beta floating console position won't actually give me the normal resting spot. I understand Tesla has all this extra space now, but the basics of what's comfortable for humans may dictate that the extra space down the middle, at least in the front, get filled in with arm and leg rests.

Timo | November 1, 2011

One question about this screen to those that know more about it: can you turn it off? Completely off, not just dim it, or maybe in a kind of standby-mode like a blank screensaver?

Volker.Berlin | November 21, 2011

Tesla is not the only car manufacturer playing with a touch screen as the main UI for their cars and an LCD instrument cluster. Does this look familiar to you?

Notably, Volvo has a reputation of being "the safest car brand in the world" (which technically isn't true, but they definitely have a heavy emphasis on safety, and an impressive track record). I find it interesting, that of all car makers bigger than Tesla, it is Volvo that (to my knowledge) is the first to show this approach.

Denis Vincent | November 21, 2011

@Volker.Berlin Thanks for that link, the way something is framed can do much for its presentation. The LCD instrument panel of the Model S is not that much different then that of the Audi Etron and that is a good thing. Incidentally, thanks for that link as well, couldn't make out if the rims were mirror imaged(on the contralateral side) however, there is no question that there would be far more of a turbine affect from that design....I can't see Audi designing something purely for esthetics..!?...

Soflauthor | November 21, 2011

@Volker.Berlin: Thx for providing the link. Instructive!

The Volvo concept illustrates how to properly integrate a large display into the dash and front interior space. Note that the display does not seem out of place or stuck on. It's framing removes the hard edges and softens its size. The wide (leather?) 'moldings' that bound the display give it a pleasant recessed look, even though it's almost flush to the moldings. It flows from the dash area into a center console, giving it an integrated feel.

I can only hope that TM will go to school on designs like the one you linked to and that the production interior will have a similar "volvo" look.

jbunn | November 21, 2011

What seems to have happened here is someone fell in love with a 17 inch monitor, and decided to build a car around it. Now no matter what happens with the interior, we still have to design around the monitor, and when the tie to the floor to visualy anchor it went away, it was just left hanging in thin air.

Eventualy, you end up with a very advanced, very expensive transportation device for hauling around a $300 computer monitor.

It needs to look like it belongs in the car, and we lost that with the Beta interior.

Brian H | November 21, 2011

Disagree. The Volvo has a HUGE console running down the drive tunnel, and brings the (smaller than S') screen up close to the driver. The "without taking your eyes off the road" claim seems dubious.

Giving rear passengers access "to all the same functions" with a parallel screen seems very questionable.

As for Volvo: After 11 yrs as a Ford subsidiary, it is now owned by the Chinese.

Chairman: Li Shufu ( Lǐ Shūfú), a Chinese industrialist and businessman and the Chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd.

Soflauthor | November 22, 2011

I agree with @jbunn. It's questionable whether any driver really needs the screen real estate that a 17" monitor provides. After all, the demonstrated Model S screen functionality could easily be accommodated using a 13" or 15" display. In fact, an iPad-sized display wouldn't degrade the experience appreciably.

Having said that, there's little question that the 17" display is a done-deal.

Given that, TM's interior design team desperately needs to integrate (@jbunn's phrase is "visually anchor") the large display. Volvo does that quite well (IMO) be providing a center console to anchor the device into the axial flow of the front cabin. Without a center console to integrate the display, the large screen just hangs in space and the vehicle does indeed seem to be "a very advanced, very expensive transportation device for hauling around a $300 computer monitor."

Volker.Berlin | November 22, 2011

I love every inch of the 17. I may be in the minority, but I'd rather take the Beta interior as is than forgo a single inch in screen diameter.

Two reasons (beside the uncompromised coolness of such a large display):

- Can't have enough inches to show Google maps, particularly in satellite view.

- With 17 inch the side-by-side ("one on top of the other") simultaneous view of two applications, like navigation and audio, is very comfortable if not natural. Would be cramped on any smaller display.

(Side note: I enjoy a 30" display in the office as well as on my private desk at home, and never would go smaller again except for my phone or the in-car system.)

gjunky | November 22, 2011

That Volvo screen will be unreadable in even the smallest amount of sunlight with it placed at that angle. They must not have taken it outside... :)
I like the proximity sensor which could be set to turn the display off when not using the Navigation and your hand is not near it.

I like the dual control but I don't want for instance my seat heaters to be controlled by anyone in the back...

I really like the idea of the 17" screen especially if we can change font sizes. I am getting old enough that it starts to matter how big a screen and its fonts are :)
I would like to see it mounted in such a way that it can be turned slightly towards the driver or the passenger. This would work really well if it was mounted mostly vertical as it is shown today. It would allow my passenger to browse the internet or change the music while I focus on driving. It should have roughly a 30 degree change angle I think.

Thumper | November 22, 2011

I am enthusiastic about gjunky's idea for angling the screen either toward the driver or passenger. This would be very helpful.

toto_48313 | November 22, 2011

As a left handed, I'm not that much enthousiastic, as if I need to browse with my right hand, it will took some time to get used to it... However I think the touch screen is so cool... that I'll make the effort to become more clever with my right hand.

Robert.Boston | November 22, 2011

@toto: perhaps you should move to England and enjoy the RHS model, which would conveniently put the touchscreen under your left hand!

Leofingal | November 22, 2011

Actually, what I liked about the Volvo video was the touch controls on the paddles (at least the concept of having tactile controls on the front and back of the wheel). This seems intriguing.

toto_48313 | November 23, 2011

@ R. Boston : great Idea, I didn't think about it, I'll consider NZ or Japan also.

dborn | November 23, 2011

toto, Australia as well, mate!

Brian H | November 24, 2011

Forget Australia. You'd have to learn Strine. Japanese would be easier!

toto_48313 | November 24, 2011

I discard Australia... seems to be a little bit too large country for a 300 miles range car.

dborn | November 24, 2011

Only if you want to drive around it - most of us don't commute more than 30km in a day. OK maybe up to 90, but with 450 in the battery each morning..... i am not too worried! And I live in Sydney -GODSZONE country!!
Brian H, Strine is quite a lot easier than Yank, i have to say!!!

DrJ | November 25, 2011

I've been bragging to my buddy who is getting a Fisker about how much better the engineering is in the Tesla. Then he saw the interior of the Beta and laughed.
Hear that Tesla...
Fisker is laughing at your interior...
Please fix it!

TikiMan | November 26, 2011


I agree, however, tell your 'friend' I will be laughing at him, as I pass him in the HOV lane, while he sits in his expensive and super SLOW, gas-powered hybrid in regular traffic.

My5bAby | November 26, 2011

Dear Tesla

I also attended the DC event yesterday !

Exterior fantastic !

Center Armrest: I thought it was innovative !

Regarding the touchscreen I'd like to make 3 suggestions
1. Less is more Example the iPad: no USB, no card slot etc, etc, Hello, No competition !
2. Get rid of every physical button possible in the car, short of turn signal/high beams, wipers,
cruise & volume control on the steering wheel. Let us control everything possible from the screen
3. The entire Model S is organic and has no straight lines or 90 degree angles except for the silver
border of the touch screen, This is why it is disruptive to the eye.
a. Get rid of the silver border (left, right and lower)
b Allow the cream leather part of the dash that borders the lower sides of the touch screen to
continue and wrap gracefully around the bottom border of the screen in a very gentle arc.

Just a few suggestions

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Brian H | November 27, 2011

pls don't thread-bomb. Once is enough.

Thumper | November 27, 2011

I agree with My5. Round the bottom of the screen a bit. Even give up a slight amount of screen area to round those visually intrusive lower corners and can the shiny bezel.

Volker.Berlin | November 27, 2011

Thumper, most of us agree with something My5bAby wrote. However, it does not help much when all the agreement is spread across three different threads, each of which deals with almost entirely unrelated subjects.

Soflauthor | November 27, 2011

Rounding the edges of the 17 inch display is essential, but it's simply not enough. The screen is huge by automotive standards, and the beta version—even if the edges are rounded—will just hang in space, disconnected to the rest of the interior. Because it's almost too big for the dash alone, the display needs a center console to support it visually and integrate it into the flow of the car.

Every day ... e-v-e-r-y d-a-y ... there's another comment or three stating something like this: "exterior beautiful, interior ... inferior."

By now, I have to believe the production model interior design is very close to completion (if the company is actually going to deliver cars in July), that fabrication and material costs have been determined, that the spectrum of interior trim options has been finalized, and that interior prototypes have been or are being built. Sure would be nice to know what TM has come up with. I know ... patience :)

My5bAby | November 28, 2011

Thanks guys for the support

I apologize for posting across threads. What all of you have said is true. I'm just hoping we can get a change made before it's too late. I had a friend alter the picture so you can actually see what I mean. I'm going to try to get someone on Tesla's interior design team to at least look at this.


Desktop/Model S dash Beta.jpg

Simple change

Desktop/Model S dash idea.jpg

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My5bAby | November 28, 2011

Could someone please help?

How do you get a picture here? It is a jpeg and I have a mac?


Mycroft | November 28, 2011

You need to host it somewhere and then use the img tag to link to it.

Photobucket is a great free place to host pics.

They even give you the html text to copy and past for the picture.