Open front center storage area could be dangerous in an accident!!!

Open front center storage area could be dangerous in an accident!!!

I know Tesla reads these postings, and I understand they take them seriously. I want to bring attention of a serious liability error, IF they decide to forgo a bolted-down closed center console storage compartment, and leave it open as a open storage area (or what is currently seen with the beta's).

Anyone who understands car crashes, knows that anything that is not secured down, in a secure compartment, or behind a secure barrier, can become a dangerous projectile! In the above link, by ABC News, we can clearly see why leaving the area between the front seats of the Model S, could potentially create a liability situation for Tesla Motors, in the event that anyone uses this open center area as a storage area for anything less than a jacket, or sweater.

Furthermore, If I were the legal council for Tesla Motors, I would HIGHLY persuade them to either...

a) Include a standard bolted down closed center console, with closable compartments for storage.


b) Leave the center area in-between the front seats completely void of any barrier (just like the rear seats), and innclude a written disclaimer that stowing anything in-between the front seats is a crash hazard.

ddruz | February 28, 2012

Thanks for making this point. IMHO I absolutely concur and have been puzzling over why in the world they chose that design. You wouldn't want to put anything in that space because of its potential to fly all over the car in a crash. Even suddenly breaking could result in a potentially dangerous projectile and will at the very least dislodge whatever you have resting there. But where is there to put your cell phone, sun glasses, parking meter change, etc.?

BYT | February 29, 2012

I know in a rush I would be tempted to put my backpack or laptop right there and not even thinking about it, I probably would.

TikiMan | February 29, 2012

Here is another story example...(and from an attorney, go figure)

"Texas Car Accidents: In a Crash, Regular Objects Become Deadly Projectiles.

"This week we covered the tragic story of a Texas eight-year-old who was killed in a two-vehicle collision in a Southeast Dallas intersection. We think that it is extremely important to note that the child wasn’t killed directly by the impact of the other car, but rather by a car jack in the van that flew through the air and struck him in the head.

While some may see this as a “freak accident,” we want you to know that unsecured cargo causes literally thousands of injuries and deaths across the United States each year – and most, if not all, of these incidents could have been prevented.

Here are just a few recent car accidents that involved unsecured cargo and projectiles:

A 25-year-old woman died in a collision with a tow truck when a laptop resting on her back seat flew into the air and struck her in the back of the head.
A two-year-old boy was properly secured in a child safety seat when the car he was traveling in was struck by another vehicle. The boy required 400 stitches because a sippy cup in the car struck him in the head during the crash.
A 30-year-old woman suffered serious injuries when she was rear-ended on her way home from the grocery store – an unsecured tin can of vegetables struck her in the head.

While it may be difficult to believe that something as small as a can, a cup, or a purse can cause serious injury, you must understand that if a car is struck by a vehicle going 50 miles per hour, even a small object can have hundreds of pounds of force.

We can’t stress this point enough: if you or a loved one has been injured in a Texas vehicle accident, it is vital that you understand what caused the injury and whether it could have or should have been prevented."

TikiMan | February 29, 2012

After doing a little more internet searching, a large percentage of the web sites that warn about these issues, come from primarily 'personal injury attorney' web sites.

Even more so now, I REALLY hope Tesla Motors takes note of this HUGE flaw, as all it would take would be one bad accident, and they would be involved in a huge multi-million dollar lawsuit and eventual recall of every car sold.

Oh, and BTW... As always, I am not trying to be deliberately critical of Tesla or the Model S for malicious reasons. I purely want to make sure they make ALL the right decisions before they start final production of this soon to be AMAZING game-changing vehicle!

EdG | February 29, 2012

It seems that the most dangerous unsecured objects were in the rear and continued on their path forward when the car slammed into something and stopped. Putting things on the floor next to you seems like the best place in the passenger compartment to put unsecured things. Of course, securing them is better.

Centrifugal force can be deadly.

TikiMan | February 29, 2012


I agree, however in a side impact, anything in the front that is unsecured could very easily come out of that area, and do serious damage to an occupant. Never mind, if someone is having to reach that far down to grab their phone, etc, it would most likely take your eyes off the road, and thus more fodder for just about any attorney to sue Tesla.

All I know is, if I were Tesla, I would personally NOT take that chance, when an extremely popular and simple solution is available.

phb | February 29, 2012

From a legal standpoint a simple warning in the manual should suffice. Something like, "Secure all cargo and/or personal items; in the event of an accident, any unsecured item could cause serious bodily harm or death."

As the lawsuits shown above prove, cars with areas to stick things aren't any better because people still put pens and things in the cup holders; hell, that's where my cellphone lives and I've got a HUGE storage area between the seats.

It's hard to shake the feeling that this is simply another thread complaining about the lack of center console. I know that this is something that many people feel strongly about, but do we really need another thread on the topic?

TikiMan | February 29, 2012


From a legal prospective (as it currently stands), that would be about the equivalent of Tesla installing a cooking range in the middle of the car, and warning the owner that using it could cause serious burns. Any remotely educated injury attorney would have a field day with this (regardless of how many warning stickers they place around the open area).

It ‘clearly’ states in the current on-line ‘specs’ for the Model S…

- “Open center console storage area”

The VERY FACT that they are promoting this for use as an unsecured storage area, would negate any warning in a lawsuit, unless they include some type of safety measures to prevent an object from falling out of the location (i.e. special straps, etc).

I know this issue has become ad nauseam, however, do you want to see Tesla suffer a bunch of lawsuits, and then have to have your car in the shop for a week, so they can add in a proper center-console after a nation-wide recall?

This just isn’t about wants and desires, this is about safety!

ThomasN | February 29, 2012

Lol. And remember to always store your briefcase, reading book, iPad/laptop, backpack, sporting goods, groceries, ...everything in the frunk. Because our lives should be regulated so we're as safe as the guy in the padded cell.

phb | February 29, 2012


I don't accept the validity of your comparison. There's no practical utility to having a stove in the middle of a car so it's very hard to justify the risk of putting one there. Moreover, it would invite behavior (cooking in the car) that doesn't normally happen in a sedan. However, an open storage area does have utility and does not create behavior that would be absent in another vehicle. For example, my wife usually carries a large purse and, in her current vehicle has to put it in the passenger seat. In her hold car, a 2006 Honda Pilot, there was an open storage area between the front seats that was perfect for her purse.

Metal water bottles are really popular at the moment, do you advocate for the removal of upholders from the Model S because one could come loose in an accident and hurt someone? Moreover there is a cargo area in the rear that is open to the passenger compartment, would you have TM install a cage in between so as to prevent items in the back from flying forward? Similarly, the rear seats for down and TM has mentioned that large items like surfboards or skis could be placed inside. Those items could be disastrous in an accident. Should the rear seats be fixed in an upright position to prevent us from putting skis in the car?

My point is that, even with the front storage area, the Model S is no more dangerous than any other car. Yes, people will put things there, but are they going to be things that wouldn't have ordinarily just ended up on the passenger seat or in a cup holder? I seriously doubt it. Case in point: all the examples from that Texas law firm in the link above. The woman who was killed because she had a laptop on the back seat's case tells us that car makes should recall all vehicles and remove back seats, right? Perhaps that young woman would still be alive if her laptop had been on the floor next to her instead of on the seat behind her; I bet it would have simply slammed into the underside of the dash. Had she been in a Model S, with it's innovative open storage area, she might still be alive today.

As you said, a decent lawyer should be able to argue anything, so lets not let not design everything around the potential law suits that could come up. That's why we say that warnings of potential harm can change what could be an unreasonably dangerous condition or product into one that isn't.

TikiMan | February 29, 2012


I disagree. A passenger seat is not displayed as a storage area. But rather a 'passenger seat’ and the same with the leg area below the seat. Thus, if your wife were to get into an accident, and her purse, or such were to cause injury, the car company could simply just state they did not intend the front seat as a storage area, as it clearly is a passenger seat.

I do agree about cup-holders, however, in this case, it is kind of a 'grey area' of legal action, as the car company could simply say, we did not intend the cup-holders in our vehicle to be used for heavy liquid containers (i.e. metal bottles), and the company that makes the metal bottle could simply say, we did not intend our product to be used in a vehicle (same goes for cell phone, iPod, etc objects being placed in a cup-holder).

In the case of the "Open center console storage area" in the Model S, it is clear that due to the size, and lack of a secure storage compartment nearby, any attorney could simply argue that Tesla new full well that the unsecure area would be used for stowing objects that could become dangerous projectiles (i.e. purse, briefcase, luggage, groceries, laptop, etc) as what most occupants would typically use this area for based on current trends.

In the case of the ‘frunk’ (hatchback-trunk) there is a clear barrier between the storage area and occupants (even with the rear seats folded down). Thus, this area falls within the legal ‘safe’ storage area deemed by the NHTSA. Don’t get me wrong, placing loose objects past the top of the seat barrier in the ‘frunk’ could still be cause for harm, however, at that point, it would be tough to argue that the car company would be completely at fault.

Slindell | February 29, 2012

Projectiles! LOL. Put it in the frunk.

phb | February 29, 2012


LOL, I guess this is why we have juries, right? I mean, two intelligent, rational adults can be presented with the same facts and come to opposite conclusions! Hell, one of the things they taught us pretty early on in Law School was that, in every case that goes to trial, half of the attorneys end up being wrong. It's an over simplification, but it makes a good point.

I, too, don't want to see TM sued over something silly, but the fact is that that they probably will be. If not about something flying around in the car during an accident or a battery that's been abused to the point of bricking then it will be something else!

Frankly, I hope that they come up with some kind of center console storage solution. I think that there's demand for it and I think that many folks will enjoy the car a lot more with something like that; some might refuse to buy without it! I'm still on the fence about which option I would prefer but I do think that it would be nice to have the option.

On a side note, your suggestion of a cooking range made me remember that commercial where the dad driving the motorhome gets up and goes into the back to make pop-corn and watch TV with his kids. I don't even remember what the add was for, but the premise makes me chuckle a little.

Sudre_ | February 29, 2012

I didn't read the entire articles but did they talk about the past cases and how they were ruled on. They appeared to just be pointing out the fact that you should secure all objects while driving.

One was a juice cup another a laptop from the back seat.... a jack in a van killed a boy. I mean everyone talks about the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit but once you look at the case you discover that the coffee was EXTREMELY hot, way over what McDonald's recommended the stores keep it at.

It is a good thing to look at tho. If the injured can prove that the open storage area made the object more prone to strike an occupant then there may be a case. If the risk is the same or less as the object sitting anywhere else in the car then it probably won't get far. That doesn't stop the cases from coming and running up the legals fees but then that will happen over almost anything, even a battery pack being ruined because it sat at 0% charge for too long :-)

There are and have been several cases, I am sure, about things flying around cars that were stored in open areas close to the Tesla open storage area if not from the exact same location. I am sure if anyone wants to search around they can find them. If there were large awards to the plaintiff it might be a good idea for Tesla to rethink the open storage area... or at least rename it, "The area to NEVER store anything."

BYT | February 29, 2012

I think this is why a lot of car companies design their car similarly, if you have a console storage solution like every other car manufacturer, then it would be harder to argue that position (or at least would be in a misery loves company situation).

Sudre_ | February 29, 2012

Except I am sure there have been 'juice cups' that have flown out of those special designed cup holders in those center consoles and caused a kid to get a couple a'dozen stitches similar to the one article. The question is how many went to court?

stevenmaifert | February 29, 2012

I think we're only going to see a a bolted-down closed center console if the lack thereof prevents the S from getting the 5 Star crash safety rating. However, I suspect it's a non-issue. If their legal department gets nervous about potential lawsuits, they then incorporate language into the Disclosures and Acknowledgements sheet warning of potential missile hazards from loose items placed in this open area and maybe even get us to sign a Waiver of Liability.

TikiMan | February 29, 2012

Maybe Tesla already knows its liabilities with regard to this issue, and is willing to take their chances.
I know a good deal of companies that are willing to risk lawsuits over issues like this, because they estimate the cost of the lawsuits will under-weigh the cost of fixing the issue correctly.

IMHO, based on the cost of what it would take to design, manufacture, and install a quality center-storage console with secure compartments for the necessary things most people would typically stow up front, and have quick access to without having to bend down to grab off the floor (thus taking your eyes off the road), I would include it as standard equipment. Then as an option allow customers to sign a waiver to have the ‘open storage area’ as an option.
If my calculations are correct, I would estimate that they might only get maybe 5% to 8% of customers that would prefer to NOT have a quality center console storage compartment on the Model S, as much as it has been discussed on this board.

Personally, I would NEVER have any need for the ‘open storage area’, and like a few have said on this board, I would likely spend the money and time to build a custom center console to fill that area in my S. Who knows, maybe Tesla wants some savvy Model S owners to make money off of their car. I know a few people that have made a huge amount of money building after-market items for many vehicles.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

phb | February 29, 2012

@ Sudre:

It's funny that you should bring up the McDonald's coffee case because that was the first thing that we read for our first day of Torts as first-year law students! We all began the assignment with the popular belief that it was a crap settlement and ended it being outraged that McDonalds hand't settled with her a lot earlier.

My read on the case was that it was basically a utility v. gravity of harm thing. Basically the utility of having the coffee that hot was almost nil while the risk of harm when one spills coffee that hot in one's lap is pretty significant. Also, if I recall correctly, the other fast food places were doing the coffee a lot cooler and the McDs coffee was so hot that it was, at least initially, utterly undrinkable.

It's a great case to read, btw, I seem to remember the decision being particularly well written.

stephen.kamichik | February 29, 2012

TM will suggest putting unsecured items in the "frunk" (according to Stephen Smith of TM).

TikiMan | February 29, 2012


So I am curious, how do they explain 'securing' an item in the... “Open center console storage area”?

As far as I can ascertain, the whole point of 'OPEN Storage' means unsecured storage.

If I am following Stephen Smith correctly, one would assume the open area between the front seats will either come with proper security straps or a special secure storage net (which IMHO would look very silly in the cockpit, and be a HUGE hassle), or it will be meant to not be used at all for anything (in which case, the term "storage" is moot in their specs list).

Brian H | February 29, 2012

Simples! Just call it "the open non-storage area".

phb | February 29, 2012

@ Brian H: Ha, very TM. Like the whole, "Horn. Beep. Beep" thing.

Robert.Boston | March 1, 2012

They just need to add some tie-down points for bungee cords. ;-)

prash.saka | March 1, 2012

@TikiMan: "I know a good deal of companies that are willing to risk lawsuits over issues like this, because they estimate the cost of the lawsuits will under-weigh the cost of fixing the issue correctly." - That reminded me of Fight Club.

Moreover, if someone installs a secured and closed cargo area, how would such a thing change Tesla warranty? As far as I know (or read), the disclaimers on car manuals say something similar to "Any changes done to the vehicle by others may void any manufacturer warranty".

~ Prash.

TikiMan | March 1, 2012


I have been a car enthused for many years, and have modified many of my vehicles in the past. When it comes to vehicle modifications that could directly interfere with the electronics or motor, there is a much greater chance you can void the manufacture warranty.

However, minor modifications (aftermarket paint, upholstery, body-kits, storage units, etc) typically will not void a manufacture warranty.

As long as the unit is removable, and does not interfere with the electronics (touch-screen, etc), I can’t see any reason why it would not be possible to add as an after-market product (if Tesla decided to forgo including it as an option).

BYT | March 1, 2012

So this modification would be a no-no?

prash.saka | March 1, 2012

@TikiMan, I suspected that there are some modifications you can do to the vehicle without voiding the manufacturer's warranty. I just wasn't sure which ones did and which didn't. Good to know.

Thumper | March 1, 2012

We owned a 96 Dodge Caravan with no center console and flat space in front of the center dash and between the front seats. They made zillions of these. Although there was no tray to suggest storage, we put all sorts of thing there all the time and I suspect others did also. Some of those people must have been involved in some pretty violent wrecks. There should be a large track record on this type of thing. I seems like a non-problem to me.

TikiMan | March 1, 2012


Yup, I grew up with a few cars that had no center-console back in the day, however, none of them, (that I recall) suggested the center area was designed for unsecure storage.

I am sure there are more than enough accidents on record where people put stuff down there on these types of cars and trucks in the center, only to have it rocket at them at 100 miles per hour in a crash. Though I doubt any of the car makers were held liable, as they didn't suggest the center area was meant for storage in the first place (I guess you could say, that is the main crux of my argument).

Brian H | March 1, 2012

Yeah, that'd make a nice complement to the falcon wings, wouldn't it?

Discoducky | March 1, 2012

after watching this movie I totally agree everything should be bolted down. And I'm very worried about the exploding door handle:

Timo | March 2, 2012

Mythbusters did some testing about car crashes and flying objects inside a car shelf behind rear seats being the starting point. Bowling ball was quite impressive.

Volker.Berlin | March 2, 2012

Timo, if you store a bowling ball in the Model S' open front storage area, after a crash you can probably collect it from the frunk. ;-)

Brian H | March 2, 2012

Or your lap! The frunk is a crumple zone, and will be much shrunken after a front-ender ...


Leofingal | March 4, 2012

My biggest concern about the "open space" is stuff sliding into the "accelerator" or brake pedals. Other than that I don't think the open space is particularly risky as most collisions would cause the objects in this area to move toward the front of the vehicle (thus my concern about the pedals). The Model X concept sketch that got posted somewhere seems a perfect solution to this, as this optional? console attaches to the car, and keeps stuff out of the foot space of the driver.

jajabor | July 17, 2014

Who keeps unsecured stuff in the space between the 2 seats. I like to keep my Tesla clean.

Bighorn | July 17, 2014

There's a handy pouch at the front of the driver's seat for my stowing my throwing stars. Say that ten times fast.

AmpedRealtor | July 17, 2014

I guess I should duck when all of those takeout receipts hit me in the forehead? LOL!

mathwhiz | July 17, 2014

Wow, there should be a prize for dredging this one up... It almost needs carbon dating. :o

PaceyWhitter | July 17, 2014

I doubt that Tesla would have liability if you chose to place objects in the storage place and those objects injured you.

However, if Tesla ever comes out with their center console insert and that is not secured and you are injured by that. They could be liable.

sbeggs | July 17, 2014

Hmmm, injured by trail mix, cell phone, mechanical pencils, Altoids, eyeglasses, Tesla ballcap and visor!

Captain_Zap | July 17, 2014

Did someone revive a thread over 2 years old to run an ad for a law firm?

I have a notepad there and a couple brochures. I'll jot down the phone number and keep it with me. But, I'll have to pull a pen out of the glove box first.

Haeze | July 17, 2014

I think we are ignoring the bigger safety risk here... The car is able to move in excess of 120mph ! If they would simply make it so the car doesn't move, it would negate all of these safety risks !

Webcrawler | July 17, 2014

A tree can fall on you and kill you too.... Please do not park near a tree is can be very dangerous....

J.T. | July 17, 2014

@Zap It was nive to see Volker.Berlin's name again.

Good times.

J.T. | July 17, 2014


tonysled | July 17, 2014

if you want a secure compartment for storing your small projectiles, use the glove box!!! otherwise by definition, an "unsecured space" would lead any sane person (persons who are not lawyers) to believe you shouldn't put your stuff there if you want it to be secure. Only a lawyer can dream this crap up! using your reasoning... Are you suggesting that if I throw my soda can on the floor and it becomes lodged under the brake pedal and I can't stop, the resulting accident is Tesla's fault for not putting a warning sticker on the break pedal warning me that this could, might, possibly, occur? Why stop there... I don't think there is a warning on my soda can alerting me to this apparent danger so naturally I would have to sue Coca-Cola too. Brilliant!! come on now, back to reality folks.

NKYTA | July 17, 2014

Didn't Mythbusters do a bit on tissue boxes during car accidents? Between that an my gym towel and some odds and ends, I think I'll make it in any accident short of splitting the MS in half on a light pole at 100mph. At that point, the tissue box will be the least of my worries.

Electricious | July 17, 2014

I personally love the open design of the center space. Here's an easy solution for Tesla---change the description from "open center console for storage" to "open center console."

Sorry, but IMHO, to conclude that Tesla would be liable for "millions in damages" because someone placed a potential projectile in the center console area---when they might have equally suffered the same injury had they placed on the passengers' floorboards, etc. seems to stretch the limits of what a rational jury would do. If the problem is really the advertising, that can be changed in a few words---but Tesla, please don't get rid of the open design!