A few tidbits from Tesla Store visit

A few tidbits from Tesla Store visit

Some of this may not be news, but I thought I'd add to the forum just the same. few items I picked up from the guy running the store:

-Tesla reads these forums religiously and acts on them. One example, people have expressed disappointment that the original plan for the Performance version came exclusively with the carbon fiber inlays, no other choices. That has been changed - you can now spec your performance version with any of the woods offered.

-Sunshade - Telsa has opted to include a retractable sunshade with the moonroof edition, doing so begrudgingly. They know of no car that has the % of sun and UV blockage as the Model S, but they're adding this because their customers optically believe they need it. (This feels a bit like the case of the tail wagging the dog - something that I hope doesn't happen too often, or we'll see increases in costs).

-Center console - my showroom guy said this was intentionally left open, that it could be configured a bunch of ways, but the goal was not to force people into something they did not want. The implication being that they might offer add-on options, but I wasn't sure. Having spent a good deal of time in the car, I actually welcome the cleanliness of no large center console, often a bit suffocating in some of the german luxury vehicles.

-Performance Edition will come with carbon fiber pieces on the outside of the car - not sure where. I was not aware of this (I hate that look), but showroom guy said they would be in small and in the 'right spots'.

-Regen - ultimately this feature, specifically the feel of how hard the car pulls when you left off the accelerator, is something that will likely be controllable by the operator using software, but not at launch. Tesla really wants to limit too much on software controls in the initial stages because they want a consistent, universal feel for drivers to ensure they get solid feedback.

-Factory Tour - if you were able to get a test drive in the Model S during the tour, you'll probably recall how fast they felt.... apparently, the cars were tuned *down* to go a bit slower than they will at launch (85% or so was what they were tuned at for the tour - as in, we should see even more acceleration pop in the final vehicles). That's amazing.

-Pandora - why is this service not part of launch? Because Pandora turned Tesla down (I've dealt with Pandora and this is common). Essentially, Pandora did not want to be fit into the Tesla platform - that is the universal experience of Tesla Audio (something that consumers will like, but the individual brands might not like) where the play/back/skip buttons all look consistent no matter whether pulling music from Slacker, Pandora or ITunes - instead Pandora wants their native app with all of its features to be displayed on Tesla's screens.

That's it for my visit. Take

Volker.Berlin | 20 February 2012

justinm, very interesting, thanks for sharing!

Tesla really wants to limit too much on software controls in the initial stages because they want a consistent, universal feel for drivers to ensure they get solid feedback. (justinm)

That makes a lot of sense to me. I'm in the software business, as many of our fellow forum members, and at my company we tend to regard the overwhelming multitude of settings and options offered by Windows and Microsoft Office -- to name one example among others -- to be a sign of a bad user interface and a lack of decisiveness of the designer/software architect/whoever was in charge. If you think hard enough and do enough user interviews and user testing, there is usually one best way to do it, and then you should do it that way. If you do it right, users won't even notice that there could be an option, and not having some option is an advantage in its own right (consider training, communication between users, and users working on different machines -- that's actually one reason why Microsoft dramatically cut down configurability for the new "ribbon"-style UI, compared to the old-school menu bars). Ooops, I digress...

Anyway, I'd appreciate Tesla doing enough thinking and testing to get the configuration of my Model S right and relief me of the burden of endless configuration options that need to be tweaked before the car behaves as it should in the first place.

Telsa has opted to include a retractable sunshade with the moonroof edition, doing so begrudgingly. (justinm)

If they did it "begrudgingly" and merely based on prospective customer feedback, mostly through these forums, then I guess that's good enough a sign that there will also be an (optional?) center console available at launch.

Crow | 20 February 2012

The customized center console was something that George B brought up with some forum members at the X launch.

h8young | 20 February 2012

I really hope it's true that Tesla will offer a customizable center console. Their response is still very vague on what they are planning to do with this. Hopefully, they'll include the center console options when they reveal the final Design Studio.

Doogue | 20 February 2012

Good comments Volker.

Others have made the comparison before me, but I was stuck by how much Tesla is setting itself up to be the Apple of auto. Showroom guy did not ever mention Apple, but many of his objection-handling techniques used learnings that come from Apple, without actually naming them (e.g. remember when people thought it was crazy to not have a physical keyboard on a phone...).

These forums are great and we all should weigh in heavily. My hope is that Tesla continues to read the comments, weighs them and, ultimately, decides what is best at this stage of the game, having the complete picture internally in a way that none of us can as individuals. Having built and run a number of businesses, I can say that the peanut gallery is often a large vocal distraction and if you try to address every concern it is certain doom - death by a million cuts... in this way, I'm more Jobsian, specifically the notion that often times the consumer has no idea what they want until you give it to them. Sounds harsh, but looking at the Model S in the showroom, I'm reminded of the Louis CK joke on WiFi on Airplanes: pre-Roadster, if you had asked most of us what they should expect in a mass produced all electric, my guess is that nobody would have believed you could get a gorgeous, all electric, 300-mile range car that does 0-60 in 5 seconds for under $70K. I hope people don't lose sight of that!

Volker.Berlin | 20 February 2012

I can say that the peanut gallery is often a large vocal distraction and if you try to address every concern it is certain doom - death by a million cuts... (justinm)

Agreed. These forums are a valuable source, but mining them is certainly a tedious task. To add one more wisdom from our company: We strictly only ask our users to describe their problems, not their solutions (or ignore the latter if they are forced upon us). Tesla has to treat input from the forums in a similar way, to end up with any meaningful and consistent product... which, obviously, they do. Good job, Tesla! :-)

EdG | 20 February 2012

While I agree with the above comments about simple being better, aesthetically, than more complex, there is a simpler reason for limiting options in the first months of a car: when everyone is driving in the same mode, driver reports are all about the same driving experience. They wouldn't have to worry about a plethora of user settings making a limited data set almost uselessly small.

TikiMan | 20 February 2012

I don't think it's too difficult to disseminate the 'BIG' issues from the, 'just being picky' ones on this forum.

Obviously the center-console issue has been a HUGE factor discussed ad nauseam on this board. Thus I think the designers realize it's a BIG factor with regard to the sale of this vehicle. I think an 'optional' center console is a great idea, just as long as it doesn't turn into a 'pay extra' option. In my opinion, clutter is ugly, and adding a center-console for storage, arm-rest, cup-holder, phone seat, sun glass and coin compartments, etc will make the vehicle far more practical, over than of just a big open space (which is already available in the front trunk, and rear hatchback). Also, I am an avid iPAD user, and always seat myself in a position where my elbows are at rest, when I am using it. Without a center console or arm rest, it will make adjusting functions on the center touch screen far more comfortable.

I complete get the sun-shade thing, as here in the West, we tend to get more sunny days, and it doesn't take much to heat up a car to the 'highly uncomfortable'. On the flip side, it is nice to have an open roof on nice days out here, so the option of a sun-shade will only help sell the open roof option.

TikiMan | 20 February 2012

Sorry, I meant... Without a center console or arm rest, it will make adjusting the functions on the center touch screen far more UN-comfortable.

Brian H | 21 February 2012

"TikiMan | February 20, 2012 new
I complete get the sun-shade thing, as here in the West, we tend to get more sunny days, and it doesn't take much to heat up a car to the 'highly uncomfortable'."

Seems they feel the IR screening will be better than people expect. But of course all light waves end up as heat, not just IR. As with many other issues, there's going to be a whole lotta customer field-testing and experimentation going on this summer!

Robert.Boston | 21 February 2012

I think an 'optional' center console is a great idea, just as long as it doesn't turn into a 'pay extra' option. In my opinion, clutter is ugly, and adding a center-console for storage, arm-rest, cup-holder, phone seat, sun glass and coin compartments, etc will make the vehicle far more practical, over than of just a big open space -TikiMan

I agree completely with the utility of a center console storage unit; the odds of it being a free option are zero, IMO. Tesla's charging $250 for a parcel shelf; a center console of any quality is likely to be a multiple of that.

Volker.Berlin | 21 February 2012

...on the other hand, they did not make the sun shades a paid option. They seem to come standard with every panoramic roof. I wonder why?

stephen.kamichik | 21 February 2012

TM may not want to be held responsible for future skin cancer cases among the model S owners.

blurry_eyed | 21 February 2012

From a center console perspective, there was an interesting sketch in the little design book Tesla handed out at the Model X event. It seemed to indicate that there was a design for a center console that had a matching Tesla handbag that would snap into the center console and there would be some kind of extendable cover from the main console to partially obscure the handbag.

There were designer notes about the strap on the bag, access to the bag and a scenario for the bag (you get in the car, you place your bag somewhere, you connect your mobile phone to the car, where do you connect(put) your phone?.

Perhaps Tesla would partner with a higher end accessory manufacturer (Coach, etc.) and create center consoles that would hold custom handbags, 'man bags' and other stuff? Maybe that's partially what they are thinking for the Model S by keeping the center of the car relatively open. People could customize their center consoles as long as there are accessible anchor points engineered into the floor to lock the thing down. Kind of like a custom case for your iPhone.

TikiMan | 21 February 2012


I see what you are saying in all, however, from a safety point of view, I highly doubt that would be the case, as objects that are not bolted down, can become dangerous missiles in an accident.

I never place my carry-on computer hand-bag/case in the seat next to me, or even in the seat behind me. It always stays behind me on the floor, or in the trunk for safety reasons.

I really think if Tesla wants to improve on the typical center-console (most of which are usually half transmission and half electrical gear in most autos), they should just provide a solid bolted down one with a good amount of various storage compartments, quality arm-rest, cup holders, etc that has nice matching leather and materials, and have it but right up to the 17" touch screen, and continue under the dash.

olanmills | 21 February 2012

Since there is no shifter, I understand why there's no huge center console. Still, notice that there is no storage under the touchscreen or in the top of the dashboard. I just want some place to put my phone, a cup, and a place to stash napkins and my phone charger. I also want a nice arm rest.

Though I'm not expecting it, I would really, really love push buttons shifters for P,R, and D (and N if there is one). I also wouldn't mind shift controls on the touchscreen.

@TikiMan, I didn't expect to be able to reach the touchscreen and have my elbow resting comfortable on the arm rest at the same time, but the truth is, now that I think about it, I'm not sure if the situation in my current car is similar or not. My arm rest extends, and I have to keep it extended to be able to rest my right arm and hold the steering wheel at the same time, but even then, I can only hold the bottom half of the wheel like that. I don't drive that way to often. However, I'm not really sure if I can reach the radio and climate controls and rest my elbow at the same time. It's not something I consciously thought about. I'll have to try it out when I get in my car.

TikiMan | 21 February 2012


I think with the Model S & X, it will be far more different than with a typical car. I would compare it more to the BMW iDrive controls, or the curser and touch pad controls on the new Audi’s.
It's obvious that few of us will be able to rest our arm while traversing through the large 17" touch screen from top to bottom; however, it would be nice to go a short distance from a nicely padded arm-rest, to the touch screen, steering wheel, and back, with little effort. Very similar to how many of us with a nice office chair (w/ long arm-rests) matches the height of our computer keyboard tray / mouse pad, to avoid arm fatigue when working long hours at the computer.

Tom A | 21 February 2012

Continuing the theme that TM does, in fact, pay attention to these blogs, I sincerely hope that all Tesla interiors, current and future, will make this Top 10 list (and preferably be #1):

I always thought that the new-car clouding of the windows was a good indication that there were staggering amounts of crap that we are breathing in the vehicle. We wonder why cancer rates, autism rates, auto-immune disease rates, AD/HD rates, etc., have been skyrocketing (at least, in the US); yet, every time we turn around, it turns out we're our own hit!

(this is rhetorical, since I don't want to get off topic but feel the need to vent) Why is there lead and mercury in, well, anything anymore? It's not news that these elements, among others, are toxic to humans. Seriously, the ancient Romans figured out that the lead pipes and lead aqueduct linings were the source of serious and irreversible mental and physical illnesses and premature deaths (though, just like today, those who recognized it were ignored or placated). Even in electronics, there are reliable, viable and proven lead-free solders, yet not all manufacturers use them. Why aren't lead and mercury simply banned from consumer goods (from child's toys to cars to homes)? There are no excuses left.

Tom A | 21 February 2012

I mentioned lead because that is one of the heavy metals found in some of the vehicle interiors. What the hell is it doing in seat cushions?!?

jbunn | 21 February 2012

Used in producing vinyl...

murraypetera | 27 February 2012

Thanks for the information it was a nice read.

Since they are reading this form it would be nice if they would also listen to the many comments on their pricing and adjust their pricing for Sig holders who are feeling a bit used.

Sig holders who put down $40k and helped fund the development of the Model S should also be rewarded with a substantial discount not a premium as is the case now. Also how about the option of taking options off such as the 21" wheels, dual charger, etc.

I have not yet but I will most likely be downgrading due to the unexpectedly high price of the car.

olanmills | 27 February 2012

I forgot to mention, with my current car, if it did have a touchscreen, I would be able to reach it with my elbow restin gon the arm rest. However, it probably wouldn't be comfortable to keep my elbow on the arm rest and use controls that are near the edges of the screen.

Volker.Berlin | 27 February 2012

I know this is out the window for the Model S but... I very much like BMW's iDrive setup (they were first, others followed suit). It's based on the insight that there are different requirements for display and input: Display should be up high in the line of sight, while input controls should be effortlessly reachable with the elbow resting on the arm rest. That arm rest requirement is not just for comfort, it's foremost for safety: With the car moving, you need a point of reference as close as possible to the control that you want to dial/turn/switch/drag/push/whatever. Resting the elbow while moving the hand to manipulate the control is a good start. I go for the Model S without hesitation to give it a shot in daily life and see how it holds up -- but I assume the safety and convenience of a separate controller and display will be hard to beat by a touch screen. I'm looking forward to trying it.

ggr | 28 February 2012

I've heard that iDrive is routinely hated by reviewers. Now I'm going to have to go read for myself...

Volker.Berlin | 28 February 2012

ggr, not "read". "Use". If you hate it after a week, that's a valid data point. You're right, iDrive has always been controversial, with haters and lovers, but the more refined later versions could gather more of the latter than the former. I'm sure the 17" glass console will be very controversial, too.

Robert.Boston | 29 February 2012

The iDrive has two flaws, IMO (and, yes, I own a BMW):

1. Physical separation of cause and effect. There's a reason that touchscreens have taken off -- there's a direct linkage between your physical actions and what you see. Dashboard buttons are the same, so a touchscreen effectively mimics how we've interacted with cars (albeit without the tactile feedback). The iDrive, however, puts a degree of separation between action and reaction.

2. Complex, nested menus. Why is the tone/fade setting not in the Entertainment section? Why do I have to dig down two levels to bring up a playlist on my iPod? Something used this rarely needs to be more intuitive. The big touchscreen allows more information, and therefore more options, to be available instantly.

Volker.Berlin | 29 February 2012

Robert.Boston, I agree with both of these issues, although the 2nd one has been remedied to some extent in newer versions. The 1st one is the one I find most interesting: The physical separation has inherent pros and cons.

In a lounge environment, the touchscreen has its merits as you describe, no doubt, and the iPad makes the point. In a car environment, I find this a very delicate question: Everything moves and shakes, and you want to/need to keep your eyes on the road. Separation of input controls and feedback display seems to be necessary to reduce the relative movement of your arm and hand against the input controls (b/c input controls can be moved to where your hand is when your arm rests) and keep the display close to the line of sight at the same time.

With traditional physical dash controls, you have to leave the arm rest but you can still physically cling your fingers to the control, thus effectively eliminating relative movement, and then use the control to make some adjustment. That's crucially different with a touch screen (as you noted). No doubt the Model S' center dash touch screen controls will work best with the air suspension... :-) The perfect solution is still to be discovered.

We had a lengthy discussion about this issue, one of my favorites actually, a while ago: