Upcoming Q&A with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen - submit your questions!

Upcoming Q&A with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen - submit your questions!

Later this month we'll publish a blog post featuring a Q&A with Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen about Model S design as we wrap up the Alpha phase. Have a question about Model S design, the process, or approach? Post your questions here for a chance to get them answered!

We know you have many Model S questions, and we will do our best to answer all of them in the coming months. For this Q&A, please tailor your questions to styling and design.

John56 | May 6, 2011

I am sequence # 1117. The front styling appears to have gone through a number of modifications since I put my deposit down. When will we know the final look of the front, especially the grille. I like the look of the new lower front air vents I see in some videos, but where are the front turn signals now?

John56 | May 6, 2011

I would LOVE it if the 17" screen in the dash worked like an Ipad. Any chance of similar UI and apps?

John56 | May 6, 2011

Will the S have a feature to generate "motor like" sounds to choose from. Safety and cool factor. I'd love to pull up next to a Harley and turn on the bad boy Harley-like rumble. ;-)

Douglas3 | May 6, 2011

Charging connector(s): Where are they located? What types are built-in?

Mike_ModelS_P457 | May 6, 2011

I have some questions about innovation and testing.

Obviously there is a lot about the Model S which can safely be described as new or an innovation (versus much of what is described a new or innovative in the car industry, which is just vaporware and a tag-line).

Given the "newness" of so many aspects of the vehicle (software, battery location and configuration, weight ratios, etc), what additional types of testing has been done along the way to ensure a high quality, high performance and safe vehicle? Where there any true "ah ha!" moments you can share from the Alpha phase?

Also, as the inevitable bugs crop up, how will Tesla respond to them and will there be costs associated with mechanical and software fixes?

On the topic of innovation, if you had to pick one aspect of the vehicle that is truly a step forward but less obvious than the highly publicized range, battery and touchscreen, what would it be?


gg_got_a_tesla | May 6, 2011

Dear Franz, a bunch of questions:

- Will the touch screen center console stay as is? Or, would there be some "hard knobs" somewhere (apart from the steering wheel) for climate control in particular?

- Are you keeping those awesome door handles from the prototype?! I'd buy the car just for those :)

- Are the turbine wheels (used in the picture above) going to be the standard? Love them!

- Yes, concerned about the front grill like the others here; the grill and the badging from the prototype were great! The Mazda-silly-grin on the alphas put a scare in many of us reservation holders :)

- Where's the charge port going to be?!

Thanks! Keep up the good work!

TJK | May 6, 2011

I noticed that the wheels resemble turbofan blades. Is that design purely aesthetic or is it actually functional?


gjunky | May 6, 2011

Will there be an option in the car to charge the car while driving? This will allow Tesla or a 3rd party to provide an add-on generator (either on-board or a trailer) to be created and hooked up for longer trips. The generator would be left at home for daily commuting and shorter trips or trips where there is enough time for charging.

For instance, I am 450 miles away from the closest dealer. For me to drive the car there, I would have to either get the 300 mile model and charge once in between or get the 160/220 model and charge it twice. For long distances like this, having a "charge/power while driving" port would be very convenient. I understand this will become less of an issue once there are plenty of 45 minute charge stations available which might still be quite some time.
And No, I am not interested in buying a Volt... I think it is crazy to carry an ICE around for the few times I want to drive longer distances.

Drdon220 | May 6, 2011

I like the fender area and how it wraps closely around the wheel, will this be able to be maintained on the production version?

I also really like the panorama roof glass. Will the divider bar between the front and rear glass panels be narrowed up?

txjak | May 6, 2011

What roof configurations will there be besides the full glass top?

Summers can be pretty hot here (Austin, TX) so I would appreciate either a non-glass roof version of the Model S, or perhaps a way to exchange the glass panels with something better at excluding solar radiation in the summertime.

stephenpace | May 6, 2011


A few quick questions:

1) I live in a city that (currently) has no Tesla dealership. While I expect this to eventually change (fourth largest city in the US, soon to be three!), what is the anticipated process for repair of the vehicle in minor accidents? While I certainly hope this is not required, would you ship parts to a local recommended body shop? Or is a flatbad trip back to California going to be needed for all but the most minor work? What is the current thinking about what types of accidents will require shipment?

2) Let's say a Model S is (heaven forbid) totalled and the current order backlog is still being fulfilled. Do you anticipate the car being replaced prior to the backlog? Or would every current order have to be satisfied first?

3) Will there be an option for an HD radio? I don't really want to do much aftermarket to the car. Worst case I could get a portable one and plug it in via the aux jack, so this isn't that big of a deal, but I plan to have this car for a long time, and I hope the car has a good implementation of both satellite and HD radio.


Model S Reservation P#3,331

Trnsl8r | May 6, 2011

Have you considered designing a solar panel roof as opposed to glass roof?

I know solar panel charging has been deemed too inefficient, but I can't help thinking for those of us parking the car outside here in the southwest while at work, it wouldn't be able to drum up a little bit of a charge during 8 hrs in the sun, at least enough to run climate control and keep the interior a bit cooler.

Nicu | May 6, 2011

I would appreciate any details about the sports version of the Model S : different style ? AWD ? price ? range ? torque, power, acceleration times, max speed etc.

In general, are there interior / exterior options that are not available on the Roadster ? will the glass roof open or modulate transparency ?

Are there differences of the dynamics (power, acceleration times, weight, weight distribution) depending on the type of battery ?


hwye81k | May 6, 2011

If the model S must have a sound(for pedestrian protection) is it possible for the S to have a choice of sounds? Or must it be limited to one sound?

grimmer | May 6, 2011

If one were to be unlucky enough to sustain body damage. What would be the protocol for getting aluminum repair work done. I can't imagine that there are many people out there who could do that kind of work. I hope such costs would not be prohibitive.

grimmer | May 6, 2011

any thoughts on having multiple charge access points? the usual place, but also in front?

shanytc | May 6, 2011

What's is the electromagnetic footprint on the human body of the Model S compared to the Roadster?

stephenpace | May 6, 2011

@gjunky I laughed when I read your comment. I had a vision of someone towing a huge trailer with extra fuel tanks and driving their EV coast to coast. :-)

I'm interested in how Tesla answers you, but my gut feeling--given that most residential generators don’t put out that many amps--is that the extra weight of towing a trailer, generator, and fuel (plus the degraded aerodynamics) would likely offset most of the benefit of being able to charge while driving.

Plus, is it bad to charge the batteries at the same time they are under load? I don’t know. I charge my laptop while I’m using it, so no doubt it could _technically_ work if you could carry a big enough generator.

ASG | May 6, 2011

Please publish the cabin dimensions for the Model S! I'm 6'8" and very concerned that I won't fit! The cabin dimensions for the 'comperable' BMW M & Mercedes S Class are smaller than my 2005 Honda Accord.

I can't buy one if I don't fit.


Portland, OR

asblik | May 6, 2011

Hi Franz,

CK from Newport Beach,

1. Been following your work for years, loved what you did before with the Kabura and Solstice. Do you get a lot of folks feeling like you borrowed too much from others like the XK and DB9 w Model S design?

2. Why feature the Model S as 7 seater (w 2 rear facing child seats) when your Model X design will be show cased later this year, wouldn't a 7 seater Model S defeat the purpose of buying Model X?

3. Any final word on the Cd of Model S is it 0.28 - was hoping with you could bring it in closer to 0.25? (which is where Lexus LS 430 is at) I'm big F1 fan and for me Cd is everything, go Red Bull! :)

crmurphy77 | May 6, 2011

What is the likelihood of a coupe version of the Model S being released in the next 2 years? I would love my next car, February 2013, to be all-electric. Based on my driving habits and needs, the roadster is too small and the current Model S is too large.

Thank you.

Todd Burch | May 6, 2011

Hi Franz,

1. What happened to the vent behind the front wheels? You once mentioned they were part of the aerodynamic design, and they looked great, along with the light effects. But I'm not so much a fan of what I saw on the alpha.

2. It has been mentioned that the external design is fairly close to the prototype...but I like the prototype front end (particularly how it looked at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2009) quite a bit more than the alpha. (Not just the grille, but also the shape without the diffuser, etc). The pictures on the Tesla website still show the version with the front end I like. I know there were probably some changes for safety/aerodynamic/thermodynamic reasons, but the alpha front end looks quite a bit different--at least from the pictures and videos posted. Can you explain and clear up this discrepancy?

3. For those drivers in states that require front license plates, will we have a place to put them? :)

Thanks for all the hard work. Never forget that you have started a revolution!

Todd Burch
Model S P1577
Smithfield, VA

msiano17 | May 6, 2011

Honestly, I think the biggest thing everyone needs is more information. The information provide is very scarce and limited when you can find it.

I would like to know dimensions of the car, inside and out.

Power statistics, IE Torque, KWH output and HP equivalent etc (and specifics on the differences for the 3 packs, if any on stats)

What each pack level's standard equipment is ... then the options.

**I understand pricing of everything may not be finalized but I think if some solid information came out about what options are going to be around, without pricing even, would help out a lot with everyone.

Really that is all it boils down to is just releasing a bit of specifics on anything Tesla can provide.

Thank you in advance!


Mark Petersen | May 6, 2011

charging witch options do you plan

Tesla / J1772 / Mennekes / CHΛdeMO / Wireless

are you planing on diffrent version between US and Europe

AC 1 phase, max KWh
AC 3 phase, max KWh
DC max KWh

Timo | May 6, 2011

Will there be adjustable suspension? A model with higher ground clearance? Less than off-road car, but more than sport car (IE. a real family car)? Not all of the roads I drive are smooth tarmac.

hiddot84 | May 6, 2011

saw the car in Detroit very nice. will there be an option 2 choose the color and other features like the design gallery for the roadster? I think this would be a great feature as well. Secondly, what are the final prices on the different models?

hiddot84 | May 6, 2011

Thirdly, what kind of warranty will be offered?

TJK | May 6, 2011

Will there be an online Design Studio for the Model S similar to the Design Studio for the Roadster?

tom.feodoroff | May 6, 2011

When will you make a convertible Model S with heated leather seats for us Canadians?

toxdok | May 6, 2011

Will the Model S have a projection system, like Lexus does now, that will project maps and other GPS information onto the windshield?

I'm about to upgrade my reservation to a Signature series. When will the 'options' to be made available in the Signature series be made public?

JoachimS | May 7, 2011

I Saw the question about different Charging options. I reallysuggetsts that Tesla Model S will be equipped with the possibility to use the CHAdeMO DC-charging standard. Especially since Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Nissan, PSA and Volvo have alreade accepted the standard. Many publicly funded Charging stations are currently being put up throughout Europe.
Check locations for Europe out at:

Doing it smart (as Mitsubishi have) you can put the AC chargeport on one side of the car and the CHAdeMO DC chargeport on the other side. Or as in the Nissan Leaf in the same place side by side

Will the CHAdeMO DC charging possibility be available on Model S?

Timo | May 7, 2011

Based off that map those chargers are in Belgium, Portugal, UK and Ireland. Looks like there is one in Sweden. I wouldn't call that "throughout Europe". I hope they get more common, but currently situation is not that good (which obviously doesn't mean that Model S shouldn't have ability to use CHAdeMO DC charging).

richard.v | May 7, 2011

Are there restrictions on the maximum size of occupants in the rear 2 seats or can they fit full sized adults comfortably and safely? Will third party applications be able to run on the 17" touchscreen? If so, have you thought about giving access to the Android store like Blackberry has done with their Playbook? What is the resolution of the touchscreen? Resistive or capacitive? Glossy or matte?

jhcorcoran | May 7, 2011

One of the areas of the car we still haven't seen is the trunk, including the two rear-facing seats. When will we see those?

donohue.seth | May 7, 2011

I have a question about the materials future of these cars. I know the Roadster uses carbon fiber composites heavily for aesthetics and the body panels, but what about the future cars? Is the cost currently too high to produce composite panels to reduce the weight?

I know there are many other factors, such as their ability to be repaired and manufactured.
I am a composites Manufacturing Engineer so I am just curious. I would love to see the automotive industry do more with composites, but I know that making composites quickly and consistently for a production line is still a rather large hurdle.

Thanks, Seth

Thomas19 | May 7, 2011

It is clear the prototype you designed was a "labor of love". Can you speak to the changes you made to the prototype in what many regarded as visually perfect. Were the changes necessitated by manufacturing constants, cost considerations, safety regulations, brand identity, etc. What design elements of the prototype were you not willing to compromise on.

kbekaert | May 7, 2011

How many ISOfix seat are there?

jkirkebo | May 7, 2011

"Based off that map those chargers are in Belgium, Portugal, UK and Ireland. Looks like there is one in Sweden."

There are at least one in Norway too, and a LOT are planned to be installed soon.

gjunky | May 7, 2011

I read something about the center console being 3g capable. Does this mean the car will have an Internet connection like the Leaf? Will this allow for remote (mobile) apps to communicate with the car? I would love to see a remote control for the AC as I am located in the Phoenix area and just getting most of the heat out of the car before you get in would be wonderful. To this same topic, will there be cooled seats?

Brian8 | May 7, 2011

Hi Franz--

Two things I'd like to know more about:

The prototype cars had fantastic-looking light-pipe rear running lights (that is, the lights that are illuminated while not braking). The Alpha had dramatically simplified rear lighting which was presumably an artifact of being a work-in-progress. Will the final design retain distinctive rear lighting effects as originally demonstrated on the prototype?2. We have heard of 3G or 4G connectivity while on the road. When parked in my garage, however, will the car be able to connect to my local network via a Wi-fi 802.11-style wireless network? I'd like for the car to automatically synch with my home media library by exposing its file-system to my home media server.

Thanks for doing this Q&A session, we're all starving for news and updates!

hwye81k | May 7, 2011

Will the touch screen have a dimmer for night driving? Seems like something that large would need a dimming switch.

nlukin | May 7, 2011

Hi Franz,

Any comments on Model X design? Initial photo on Elon's slides to investors show a futuristic design. Where do you take your inspiration for a Crossover/SUV?


bgoodwin | May 7, 2011

1) What's been the most difficult problem you've had to tackle?
2) Similarly, what did you find surprisingly easy that's attributable to what an EV design allows you to do?
3) What's the biggest thing you've learned from the Roadster that you're applying to the Model S?
4) Can you talk to the processes and discoveries involved in silencing the interior given that there's no ICE engine to drown those random noises (e.g. the brake pump) out?
5) The Roadster's heat is weak in very cold (< 15F) temperatures; given how much more cabin room there is, can you talk to how you're solving for a comfy ride in 0-degree weather while preserving range?
6) What biggest strength do you feel you personally bring to the Model S design (how has your past experience influenced this)?

gdh66 | May 7, 2011

What will the front/rear weight ratio be? Is it close to 50/50?

Thumper | May 8, 2011

As a reservation holder, I have several questions/concerns.
1. Will the production car actually have only 4.5 in ground clearance? That is quite low and probably a problem in normal driving over speed bumps. Plus it puts the door bottom into some curbs on the passenger side when parallel parked.
2. There does not appear to be a place for a spare but many people are not happy with run-flat tires for a variety of reasons.
3. My wife and I really want a back-up camera.
4 Front bumper distance sensing to curbs and parked cars will help us all avoid scratching our beautiful S. Pleas include
5. Blind spot sensing seems more important than usual on the S. Although we have side mirrors, the C pillar looks huge. Looking forward to your discussion.

hwye81k | May 8, 2011

Will there be some kind of notification to the driver when battery power is low such as a warning light or sound similar to ice cars now.
If so this warning or notification, hopefully, will be at "20 miles or more to go"........not "5 miles or less to go".

discoducky | May 8, 2011

I have a few questions about the Model S design, the process, and approach and I've tailored my questions to styling and design.

Full disclosure - I love the look, your environmental considerations and allowing my family to be free of oil. Thank you and everyone at Tesla!

Footprint - Was a longer/wider wheelbase considered?; It looks standard, why not move the wheels further apart? When designing a whole new chassis from the ground up it must have been bandied about around the design table. Curious to know if anyone felt that by pushing the envelope, so to speak, it would create massive interior room and thus compete with the likes of the A8L and 7-series Long.

Long nose - Why such a long nose? Would really like to know if the primary reason was aesthetic or frontal crash resistance or was front wheel drive a part of the design at one time? Again, I'd imagine that some may have thought that shortening the nose would create so much more interior room.

Door handles - There has to be a story here. I'd prefer the handles to be vertical, higher and purely mechanical functionally. I'm concerned about longevity and becoming inoperable in freezing weather.

General design - Which part of the car is the rest of the car designed around? From a design point of view, is it the battery or something else? It seems that every EV maker would put the battery between the axles if they could. That seems the perfect location from a design and physics POV. But also, the dashboard is very striking and iconic (my favorite part of the car) and the rear axle integrated motor is my next favorite from a mechanical POV.

Thanks for your time in advance!


jfeister | May 8, 2011

Thanks for all your hard work making EV's a reality. Here are some questions regarding the Model S:

What are the impacts on storage capacity of the three range options? Will all three range options use the same type of battery?

The front end differs significantly between the prototype and the alpha build. Can you tell us what we can expect in the production version and what influenced the design?

Will drivers be able to customize the appearance of the instrument cluster and center console? Are there any concerns about light from the center console during night driving? If so how will these be addressed?

Are there any more details available on a sport version of the Model S?

divine | May 9, 2011

is it possible to connect a sub-woofer and amp? if so how fast will it drain the battery?

mnx | May 9, 2011


Can I get my sig in matte black? :)

- matt
Canada S24