Model S Media/Phone integration

Model S Media/Phone integration

I am a Model S reservation holder and just attended an event where we could view the Beta model. My wife and I are very excited with the car and look forward to the middle of next year when we take delivery.

We are left with a few questions/hopes for the car that maybe someone here can address.

1. I hope the interior of the car is still being finalized and can be made more accommodating to one's specific needs. We don't have 5 kids so the rear facing seats are just not of interest. I would rather have a more functional rear trunk space. I would also love to be able to fold the 2nd row of seats down (ideally split seats) to make room for skis, sails, tools, or whatever long/bulky things one might put in a car. (And no I don't want an SUV.) There is a lot of interior volume in this car and I want to make use of it in several ways.

2. The seats were very comfortable, but I hope that they will be more form fitting. I can imagine making corners in this car and sliding around on those seats. (I didn't get to test drive, so maybe this is not the concern I think it is.)

3. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we were shown the bells and whistles of the 17" display with its phone contacts, media storage, internet access, etc. etc.:
A. I don't need to read the New York Times while driving or even when at a stop light.
B. The last thing I want is yet one more place that I have to sync my contacts and music and podcasts.
C. The presentation suggested the car would have a built in 3g/4g phone and data connection. Again, I don't want to have to pay for and manage yet another phone connection.
D. It was implied that I might have to pay extra for turn by turn navigation. Reduce the size of this screen, save the power and give me turn by turn nav. as standard.

It seems to me that making the car a deluxe blue tooth device for my iPhone/Android/blah blah smartphone is a better way to go. Let me make calls on my phone through the car's speakers/mic. Let me play music and podcasts from my phone's playlists through the car's speakers. Maybe even let my phone's gps and google maps talk to the car and take me where I want to go (with turn by turn navigation) through the car's display.

Beyond eliminating the need to sync another device and pay for another data connection in the car, it seems to me that we might better keep step with mobile technology if we rely on my $400 smartphone for the mobile phone/data technology and the $60,000 car for transportation. I can change my phone when 4g becomes 5g and I don't want to have to come for service at the Tesla center for that.

I can't believe I am the first to have these thoughts, but I have not found much reference to these specific issues on the forums. I hope (and sort of expect) that Tesla has cool solutions in mind for these issues.

Can't wait to hear more.

Robert.Boston | 6 November 2011

Some great questions. A few I think I can answer, at least in part:

Tesla is clearly tinkering with the interior still -- the three Betas used at the Fremont event and now circulating were delivered at the last possible moment to Fremont. The +2 rear-facing seats are an option and, I believe, removable even if you do get them. The rear seats fold down, though I don't think we know if they split. I hope they do, 70/30, preserving two second-row seats.
Many people on the boards have called for more lateral supports in the seats. It may be that Tesla offers two seating options, "sport" and "standard" to accommodate a range of preferences.
The degree of overkill imbedded in the 17" is a matter of personal taste, probably linked in part to the number of hours spent behind the wheel.
But you may want to consult with TripAdvisor to find a hotel, or Zagat to find a restaurant.
Hopefully syncing will be painless, but I agree.
There were hints at the Fremont event that there will be two levels of connectivity: a thin connection, that allows the car to communicate with the smartphone apps that control the car and with Tesla for vehicle support; and a full connection that enables internet browsing, etc. The thin connection is likely to be included in the price, while the full connection is not (or maybe we get a free period and then start paying).
I hadn't heard this -- that would bite.

It's announced that the Model S will create a wifi hotspot for the passengers, but I don't recall hearing anything about the ability to tether the car to a smartphone, as you suggest. That would be a good option for many, I think.

michiganmodels | 6 November 2011

I agree with most of this.

My two biggest concerns are:

1) Having a 4G "full connection" at start of production.
2) Price and options of data package for this 4G/3G "full connection" data package. I'm not excited to pay for yet another data package (I pay for internet on/in: 1) Home 2) Phone 3) iPad and now 4) Car).

Kallisman | 6 November 2011

The ISPs really should start to give package deals. All your internet use on all your devices for a reasonable fixed monthly price. After all, how often do u use them all at the same time?

michiganmodels | 6 November 2011

@Kallsman - I agree.

EdG | 6 November 2011

3G/4G data usage:

In speaking to a Verizon store manager, he claimed the reason for the fairly recent loss of unlimited data usage package is that some customers "just left their high usage" (youtube?) "connection on all day even when they weren't there".

I wonder how much data, per month, I can expect to use with navigation going and some slightly above typical road time... What if I want to listen to Pandora radio while I drive and use navigation? Will the ISP allow me to do this without incurring exorbitant fees?

If possible, I'd rather not have to search around for local radio stations, with the ads, etc., while I drive from place to place. And I'd rather not pay XM radio, either. (I've recently had a bad experience with them charging me for a package and not delivering what I'd ordered.)

michiganmodels | 6 November 2011

@EdG - I would expect the data carrier would have an unlimited data plan for Tesla (at least in the next 2 to 5 years when volume is relatively low). Unlike cell phones with the user base in the millions, Model S users will total 26,000 by Year End 2013. More importantly, the likelihood of someone plugging in their car and constantly streaming music is nonexistent. I can see how people plug in their cell phones (at work, etc.) and stream music all day, but there is a clear difference between a cell phone data use and car data use. Tesla really should push for an unlimited data plan. We'll see...

Robert.Boston | 6 November 2011

I don't think that the nav system will be a huge data hog. I read coverage of the Fremont event that stated that the Model S nav system downloads a block of data from Google Earth for the surrounding 300 miles radius -- which then lives in internal memory. That initial burst will be a big block of data, but presuming it can hold still more innternally, there won't be much additional info for most drivers (who typically travel in one general region of the country).

Streaming audio, OTOH, can suck up 30-60 MB/hour of data, depending on the file encoding method; video can suck up to 180 MB/hour. That could get really expensive if you don't pay attention to your mobile data plan limits.

michiganmodels | 6 November 2011

@Robert.Boston - I agree. That is my concern of a capped data plan. Tesla should understand this and push for an unlimited plan.

brianman | 6 November 2011

"the Model S nav system downloads a block of data from Google Earth for the surrounding 300 miles radius"

I'd love an option to park a hard-drive in the glove compartment and download the entire continent of data while I'm in range of my home wireless.

Mycroft | 6 November 2011

"I'd love an option to park a hard-drive in the glove compartment and download the entire continent of data while I'm in range of my home wireless."

I believe that would be called the optional NAV upgrade. ;-)

Vawlkus | 7 November 2011

It might be simpler than we think. What f the car simply routes all it's web traffic through the phone when they're syncd? Then it's one bill, one plan, but you'd probably want to upgrade your phones data plan to unlimited.

It'd be cool if the car acted as a router, and you could link all your other gadgets to the web via the cars net link via your phone while on the road, and your home LAN while at home.

Brad Holt | 7 November 2011

"It'd be cool if the car acted as a router" --Vawlkus

I believe that is the case. The car will act as a wifi hotspot.