Old Spoiler vs New Spoiler Myth Busted

Old Spoiler vs New Spoiler Myth Busted

I was at the Hawthorne supercharger and I pulled up and there were three guys working on one Tesla. I asked them what they did and they told me that they were aerodynamic engineers and that they helped design the Tesla from day one. I spoke to one them for like 30 mins and he noticed that I had the old style glossy spoiler on my car. He said that the talk of the spoiler being cosmetic was totally false and that he designed the spoiler himself and it took him 10 weeks to design and wind tunnel test. He said it gives a HUGE improvement in performance at high speed. He said that they were pushing for Tesla to advertise that to consumers in the beginning but in the end most of the sales team were saying that it was cosmetic.

Runar | August 7, 2013

noo... and I chose not to get my free spoiler (P85), as it was "just cosmetic". Now they charge $1500 if I want it. :-(

And I havent even recieved my Performance 85 yet, it 2weeks left still.

nickjhowe | August 7, 2013

What was the definition of "performance" that the engineer used? There are generally two positive benefits of aero - one is decreasing drag (so increasing fuel economy), the other is creating downforce to increase traction in high speed corners. Unless you are racing the Model S the latter doesn't matter.

So if the spoiler's "performance improvement" really is to increase range, and TM said it was cosmetic (that is what I thought), then those of us that could have had a free spoiler but chose not to take it should be offered one now.

Kimscar | August 7, 2013

When I hear statements about specs like that with the spoiler to believe it I want to see the data published. As an engineer I have heard statements from people at work that really didn't know the spec make a statement as if they knew the answer.
Tesla really needs to back up statements with data.

1. Show spec on spoiler performance.
2. Show spec on cabin air filtration. ( I have been in contact with Tesla in Palo Alto but the individual is having trouble in getting the MERV rating on the filter). I did find that the filter is being made by Wix
3. Give us performance data on the sound system. How was it tuned and who did the work. What makes it a special sound system. I thought when I drove the car it wasn't bad but not a great system. And only equalization for low , mid and high frequencies.

TommyBoy | August 7, 2013

Huge performance increases at high speed? Who cares? The knock on the Tesla is that it is super fast up to about 70 and then gets killed because it has little top end and is electronically limited to 130mph while the Porsches and BMWs go all the way to 170mph in some cases.

You can't use even 130mph on the roads anyway so like the poster above said, unless you are racing your MS on a track, the spoiler is cosmetic and if anything decreases your range.

Plus it looks tacky. Like somebody took the beautiful flowing lines of the Model S and put three bolts through the back and set a two-inch black carbon fiber blade on top of the rear hatch.

Carefree | August 7, 2013

I agree 100% with TommyBoy. I chose not to install the spoiler because it disrupts the clean lines of the Model S. High speed and living in the US really don't go together. If I was still living Germany and took my P85 on the Autobahn - well that would be another story all together:-)

defmonk | August 7, 2013

+1 @TommyBoy

Moves the Model S into Japanese tuner car territory. Yuk.

jnb | August 7, 2013

To each his own. I have a grey on grey p85+ with the carbon fiber spoiler and it looks fantastic.

eddiemoy | August 7, 2013

I emailed ownership and they won't budge on giving me the spoiler for free. They said they are sorry their sales staff gave the wrong information. They said that it is hard to even get the part!! They don't even know if they will be offering retro fit.

I do feel that the car isn't as stable above 80mph.

Anyone know who else I can email to try to get this retrofitted? When I ordered it was free and the only reason I didn't get it was because sales said it was cosmetic. Why else would I order the P85+!!

Tesla not acting like a great company.

Carefree | August 7, 2013

jnb - yes to each his/her own. Thank God - otherwise we would all chose the same color:-) Imagine nothing but red Teslas (or pick any color).

Our entire home has very clean lines and no clutter whatsoever. When we saw the Model S we immediately fell in love with it but we always felt that the spoiler was an afterthought.

carlk | August 7, 2013

@TommyBoy All German cars by MB/BMW/Audi are electronically limited to 155mph except for Porsche which does not have any artificial speed limits. 130mph is not that slow by comparison.

When the spoiler/wing idea first came out in the F1 racing circle it was kind of laugh at but look at what all the F1 cars have now. The down force (not lift as some quoted) gives the cars tremendous stability and cornering advantages. It is one of the very important invention in the racing history. Those huge spoilers on Porsche turbo or GT2 are not there just for show. I'm sure Elon is one person who can tie spoiler to performance cars. BTW it's the same reason why the performance model(used to) mandate the air suspension.

Captain_Zap | August 7, 2013

I always thought that the spoiler would increase driving performance at the risk of losing range performance.
It would be nice to know if this is the case.

I have no performance issues of any kind without the spoiler as far as I can tell. If the spoiler positively impacted range, and if it was painted to match the car, I would have been more inclined to consider it.

Bob W | August 7, 2013

@pjohnson23, please define what he meant by "at high speed". How high? 70 mph? 100 mph?

If the spoiler reduced energy consumption by 5 to 10% when traveling 70 mph or more, maybe I would have ordered one. I supposed marketing looked at the numbers and decided it offered little functional value at typical U.S. highway speeds (70-75 mph). So it offered nothing but cosmetic value for anyone other than racers or those who regularly experience 25 mph headwinds.

carlk | August 7, 2013

@Bob W There are two kinds of spoilers. One is the aftermarket one for look only installed on those ricer cars. The other is real functional ones such as those on top end Porsches. I'm glad op verified the ones on MS is the later kind although I never had doubt that they weren't.

Is it needed for everyone? Likely not. However it probably helps if you do go into a corner at high speed. Tesla just wanted to give you a design that will make the car perform better. Remember Elon had super cars in mind when he designed Model S performance(+) model.

CalabasasKid | August 7, 2013

In case anyone wants to get rid of their spoiler, I'll gladly but it off of you. I'm in Los Angeles area

2EV-Family | August 7, 2013

My wife proved that the spoiler is very functional the first time she opened the hatch in a tight parking garage. The spoiler hit a concrete beam and nicely protected the paint. :-)

Schlermie | August 7, 2013

There's no way that spoiler is increasing range. If that spoiler is capable of increasing range, Tesla would have built it into every Model S. The trunk would have just been shaped that way. If it really has any function at all, it's to increase downforce (or decrease lift). When you increase downforce, you typically trade-off range efficiency, which is why Tesla makes the statement that it has "minimal range impact", although with a vague term like "minimal", that could mean anything.

TikiMan | August 7, 2013

I like the fact that mine is one of the few glossy versions. It looks great on my black P85 Sig, and I still wish there were a few CF accents in the front (like on the P85 showroom models, before the MS was released).

michaelwm | August 7, 2013

I couldn't agree with you more, Schlermie, and was about to post the same thing -- the notion that the spoiler increases range is absurd, precisely because if it DID, then you could be damn sure that Tesla would've built one (non-carbon-fiber) into every single Model S.

shop | August 7, 2013

If it only increases range at 100 mph, then Tesla wouldn't care about it as it wouldn't help their EPA range numbers. Having said that, better range at 100 mph would be useful when traveling 70 mph into a 30 mph headwind...

nomoDinos | August 7, 2013

Argghh, thanks for pointing out the increased drag. It's been a while since I've thought about anything vaguely Bernuolli. I'm going to take the spoiler off my build if it's not too late!

ian | August 7, 2013

Yup. Called that one in another thread. Glad to hear the original was functional as well. ;-)


pjohnson23 | August 8, 2013

I recall him saying that it helps at freeway speeds but we didn't get into the exact mph speed.

blurry_eyed | August 8, 2013

This is what the website says about the spoiler. You can find this in the order configuration page under 'Carbon Fiber Spoiler' section:

'Improve high speed stability by adding the carbon fiber spoiler to your trunk lid. Made from lightweight, cross-woven carbon fibers with a matte epoxy finish, we recently redesigned the spoiler to reduce lift at the car's rear by 77% at highway speeds, with minimal range impact'

AmpedRealtor | August 8, 2013

@ Runar, my vehicle is one week from delivery and my Delivery Specialist got it added back into the order. She did say that it will most likely not come with the car given the late change to the order, but that it would be shipped. That is perfect, because I'd rather sell it than attach it to the car. I don't mind that Tesla values the part at $1,500. :)

jat | August 8, 2013

The spoiler reduces lift at the expense of drag.

Personally, I haven't felt my car was the slightest bit unstable without it, and I have been up to 108 at the track.

nomoDinos | August 8, 2013

Jat - that's encouraging. I'm a pretty conservative driver, will never approach 110 mph anywhere. It's actually kind of silly that I'm getting a P85 in the first place, but here I am. I'm glad the spoiler isn't all "Fast and the Furious" at least.

bxtech | August 25, 2013

CalabasasKid......are you still looking for a spoiler? I have one available if you're interested.

NKYTA | August 25, 2013

Just got the spoiler last Wednesday. Up to Fairfield and back, fuzzy report is that I really don't notice any change. Did a couple runs 60-80 and it felt as solid as ever - it did't feel any more solid than spoiler-less.

cfOH | August 25, 2013

Finally got to see the glossy and the matte spoilers side-by-side yesterday. I like the shape of the matte spoiler better, but the glossy one was gorgeous.

I'm glad my car has one. And I'm glad it was part of the package because I don't know that I would pay for it separately.

ian | August 25, 2013

Rumors of the spoiler's affect on performance are greatly exxaggerated. It's just too small on a too heavy and too slow of car to make any noticable difference.

If you think it looks cool, get it. Because, in the end, that is all it's really good for.


cwmenne | August 25, 2013

@bxtech, or anyone else that would like to sell a spoiler... I'm interested. Email me, cwmenne at Thanks! -Chad

mpacked15 | September 13, 2013

I posted this link in another thread but figured I'd share it here as well. Here's a pic of what's presumably the new spoiler.

Dramsey | September 13, 2013

This is what the website says about the spoiler...

Yeah, well, remember when American cars had huge tail fins in the late 50s and early 60s? Magazine ads from Plymouth said the tail fins were "stabilizers" that reduced steering corrections by 20% at highway speeds.

That was BS, too.

earlyretirement | September 13, 2013

+1 Tommy. I think the spoilers are ugly, don't look natural to the design of the car and take away from the clean lines. But if some people like them that's great.

RanjitC | September 13, 2013

Having grown up in India with 1950's FIAT cars I know what Lift a car generates above 60 mph it feels like the car is going to take off. Just because you can't feel the difference doesn't mean its not there. My brother just visited me and was shocked at how little lift was generated by my 2000 Camry.When the grooves on your tires follow the grooves in the cement causing the car to feel like it's wobbling from right to left that's from lift.An F-1 car can be driven upside down on the roof of a tunnel at 120 mph because of the downforce created by it's wings (spoilers, both front and rear).Those cars achieve ~1mpg. On road cars the idea is to balance consumption with stability ,and, engineers spend countless hours perfecting this feel.The difference may not be noticeable by one person but may make a great difference to someone who has driven all three version's and can tell them apart.

carlk | September 13, 2013

I think the CF spoiler looks cool. It's the plastic nose cone that I don't like but it's not an option.

Brian H | September 14, 2013

Brian H | September 14, 2013

Oops & Wow! the URL for the Google pic included about 30 lines of alpha, in caps. Didn't think it would work!