iPhone on wheels

iPhone on wheels

I have been describing my new Model S to friends as an iPhone on wheels. The more I think about it, the more similarities I find between the two.

1) The most obvious corollary is the touch screen dashboard. Apple forever changed the cell phone with the glass touch screen eliminating tactile buttons. Blackberry users held out the longest but even they now agree glass is the future. It seems to me that within 5 - 10 years all cars will adopt the touch screen dashboard.

2)The battery platform being the frame of the car. Tesla's chief designer Franz von Holzhausen calls the platform of the car a "skateboard on wheels". I think it's an iPhone on wheels. It's basically the same shape and similar dimensions (length vs. width vs. height) as an iPhone. IMHO this is Tesla's most brilliant design aspect of the car. Placing the battery in the frame under the floor of the car created so many benefits vs. a traditional car frame:
a) Lowest center of gravity of any sedan on the road giving it great handling abilities
b) Torsional rigidity - since it is a solid block of medal the frame is stiffer than normal cars = better
c) Flat underbody which helps the Model S become the most aerodynamic car on the road
d) All of that mass of metal under the floor of the car soaks up the road noise and gives a smoother ride
which is why Road and Track said the car rides as smooth as a Rolls Royce
e) Safety - It will be harder to crumple a Model S frame in an accident than a typical auto with
crossbars, etc.

3)Software upgrades - since the car is connected via 3G (hopefully faster LTE coming soon) the car gets new features and improves itself wirelessly. Every other car has to go into the dealer to get enhanced. They can even diagnose the car and sometimes fix a problem remotely.

4)Sales and Distribution - Tesla eliminated the dealer network so you order your Model S on-line just like an iPhone. And they hired George Blankenship away from Apple to create the Tesla showrooms we see in shopping malls. George created the Apple stores which helped to multiply iPhone sales. At Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach the Tesla store actually sits in the same spot where Apple's store used to be. Apple moved to a larger location within the mall.

5)Battery charging is a similar theme. Both the Model S and the iPhone can suck up juice in certain conditions. Monitoring the battery level and having access to recharge are constant issues that users need to stay on top of.

6) Disruptive technology - Apple forever changed cell phones with their radical iPhone. Now, every phone is a smart phone with a touchscreen. Tesla has forever changed the automotive industry (and the oil industry for that matter) with the Model S by creating an amazing battery pack that has great range and lasts for years and years.

7) Both are products of Silicon Valley. Most of the world's leading innovations are coming from this region. As a Southern Californian, I am a bit jealous.

8) Both were created by entrepreneurs who are regarded as being amongst America's greatest, most innovative business leaders in our countries great history. RIP Steve Jobs. Keep rocking Elon Musk!

cloroxbb | 18 March 2013

I disagree :)

shop | 18 March 2013

Yes, I frequently descirbe this car as the iPhone of cars...

GenIIIBuyer | 18 March 2013

The ultimate mobile device?

campsalvage | 19 March 2013

If it were an iphone of cars it would require that you drive on private roads only accessible to teslas and you would need to replace it ever 18 months for some minor feature.

Mark Z | 19 March 2013

The latest Apple "Lightning" connector is another similarity. Tesla Motors ignored the bulky DC fast charge connectors and created an elegant design that works from 120 volt AC to 90kw+ DC SuperChargers. Add an adapter to connect to other connections, just like Apple!

GeirT | 19 March 2013

Spot on!

CarlE_P439 | 19 March 2013

iPad on wheels???

weeandthewads | 19 March 2013

I think of it as a Gallaxy S on wheels. Why insult the car by equating it to an Apple product.

christurbeville | 19 March 2013

Our nick name is the flying ipad...

Sanjuro | 19 March 2013


Tesla cars, like Apple products, are invented and designed in the USA. When Hyundai or KIA comes up with a Model S look-alike, then maybe you can compare that to a Galaxy S. Don't insult American ingenuity by equating the Model S to a Korean knock-off.

patp | 19 March 2013


+1 This is exactly what I wanted to write! People tend to forget the innovation came from
Apple - like it or not. The others just copied the design.