Upcoming Q&A with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen - submit your questions!

Upcoming Q&A with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen - submit your questions!

Later this month we'll publish a blog post featuring a Q&A with Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen about Model S design as we wrap up the Alpha phase. Have a question about Model S design, the process, or approach? Post your questions here for a chance to get them answered!

We know you have many Model S questions, and we will do our best to answer all of them in the coming months. For this Q&A, please tailor your questions to styling and design.

Volker.Berlin | May 9, 2011

Hi Franz,

we are all impatiently looking forward to some information "straight from the horse's mouth"... ;-) In contrast to what some folks said in this thread, I feel that Tesla is extremely open and straight forward with general information and even some details, at least much more so, than any conventional company in the automotive business. Still, the gaps that are left by the published information are filled with rumor, and that leaves me uneasy or at least unsatisfied at times.

The battery pack is easily the single most striking achievement by Tesla so far. Here are some battery pack questions:

Given that the 300 mile battery uses different chemistry than the 160/230 mile batteries -- can you quantify the difference in charging behavior? Particularly, how long does it take to charge 100 miles in each of the different battery packs?
It is said that the 300 mile battery and the 230 mile battery have similar weight, while the 160 mile battery is expected to be significantly lighter. Can you quantify the impact of the increased weight on the Wh/km?
Are there any differences in the expected life time of the batteries, in terms of km driven or years or charge cycles? Since the 300 mile battery has different chemistry than the smaller ones, is its expected life time greater or less, and by how much?
Available information from Tesla suggests that the structural part in the car's floor contains the entire battery technology, allowing to easily swap batteries of different capacities. Then again, rumor has it that the 230/300 mile batteries will on top use some space from the front and rear trunks. Can you please explain?

Volker.Berlin | May 9, 2011

I have to admit that my battery pack related questions are not at all "tailored to styling and design". So never mind if you do not see fit answering them in the announced blog post. Among the styling and design questions that have already been asked in this thread, I would like to +1 the following:

Front grille, obviously, but also turbine wheels, vent behind the front wheels, light-pipe rear lights and heated(!) door handles: Design and functionality rationale, availability in the final version.
Closely related: Can you speak to the changes you made to the prototype in what many regarded as visually perfect. Were the changes necessitated by manufacturing constants, cost considerations, safety regulations, brand identity, etc. What design elements of the prototype were you not willing to compromise on. (Thomas19)
Charge access points and compatibility with different standards.
Where there any true "ah ha!" moments you can share from the Alpha phase? (Mike_ModelS_P457)

Finally, I am seriously concerned about the 17" touch screen. I love it as much as the retractable door handles and would not want to bargain it, I am not religious about "hard knobs" although they have proven a certain value particularly in the automotive environment, and I believe in Tesla that you can do it right. However, it is obviously a serious challenge to design such an interface in a way that is unobtrusive and requires similarly little visual attention as good ol' hard knobs. I wonder

how are you going to achieve a usability suitable to a driving environment, and
why did you bother with this "revolution" in the first place, seemingly unnecessarily running the risk of failure (at least, from a UI perspective), when the Model S would arguably be innovative and challenging enough without this additional challenge?

neroden | May 9, 2011

- How is the design going to protect against saltwater corrosion and gravel/rock strikes from the underside? Yes, I live in a rural, snowbelt area with bad roads (including gravel roads) and massive salt use.

- Another voice regarding the underclearance. Even our paved roads here are full of bumps, dips and loose bits of rock, or in the winter hunks of ice and snow. And half of them are on steep hills with sharp vertical curves. Very low clearance on the underside means a *guarantee* that the car will bottom out in bad road conditions. My current car has 5.5 inches clearance at the wost point, 6 inches in most places, and *it* bottoms out intermittently.

What is being done in the design to address this and protect the car from being damaged by the typical rural road?

neroden | May 9, 2011

"5) The Roadster's heat is weak in very cold (< 15F) temperatures; given how much more cabin room there is, can you talk to how you're solving for a comfy ride in 0-degree weather while preserving range?"

Good question, I second this one too, living someplace where it gets that cold fairly often in winter.

DarrellH | May 9, 2011

The blue light bars on the front of the prototype were beautiful. I've heard that the color will be changed to white for legal reasons. That will still be beautiful and unique. Please don't use anything that is similar to Audi's daylight running pinpoint LEDs. They are unattractive at best.

Blueberries | May 9, 2011

concerned about the front grill like the others here; the grill and the badging from the prototype were great! The Mazda-silly-grin on the alphas put a scare in many of us reservation holders ...

msiano17 | May 9, 2011

Type of security systems built into the car?

Type of sound systems already equipped?

Type of Standard tires? They for comfort or economy? (Prefer comfort)

Best of luck organizing all these requests. Willing to help if needed, and looking forward to the Q&A.


Supergreekster | May 10, 2011

Some things I am wondering about:

I am a big Subaru fan, also own Nissan GT-R... Really an AWD fan, any chance of adding second (perhaps smaller) motor to add power to front wheels? As an option? I like performance and utility (bad weather) advantage of this...

Also wondering if there has been any brainstorming, design into the "sport version"? What might be differences? What might be cost differential? When might it be available?

Signature edition differences?

I actually think the touch screen is a nice touch, BUT I recently drove a Toyota Prius and tried to use a software touchscreen interface while driving -- this is HARD, so will there be steering wheel mounted controls? This is on the Toyota Prius and makes using things MUCH EASIER while driving. I am all for touch screens, (iPhone, iPad user/lover) but while driving it is DISTRACTING. I like to be able to reach out, change temp, radio WITHOUT LOOKING, and once you drive a car for a bit u can memorize where things are... Ergonomics VERY IMPORTANT

Any chance of WiFi ability, so car can interface when in my garage? Updating radio info, cd names, etc. Maybe even firmware upgrades?

We are all anxious to hear about options and pricing...

vouteb | May 10, 2011

Please have the mirrors fold(electrically if possible).

Good luck

Supergreekster | May 10, 2011


Surround cameras?
Backup camera? (prefer with anticipated trajectory)

Auto park would be AWESOME!! Bragging rights...

Supergreekster | May 10, 2011

I would say 3G should be altered to state:EDGE,3G,4G cellular connectivity

Again, wifi would be great too...

Tiebreaker | May 10, 2011

Mr. Franz:

Will the door windows on the production Model S be "frameless"?

JeremyPadawer | May 10, 2011

Hi Franz, from #3118.

I'm bored. I'm not sure I can hold out another 15-18 months without becoming indifferent to the opportunity. QUESTION: How am I going to pass the time? :-) Help.

Jeremy Padawer

Timo | May 10, 2011

One question in other thread brought this in my mind:

Could you include powerful DC charger in your car so that you could do a battery to battery charging with two Model S -cars? Any EV could help other EV:s on a road with that. Put that plug in some safe place, like in the trunk.

Also standard 110V (US)/230V (Europe) could be useful, maybe even three-phase power so every EV becomes emergency electricity storage devices in case of disasters. One EV can keep power up in a common household for weeks, if you just limit the electricity usage in minimum.

Supergreekster | May 11, 2011

One-way bearing on front transaxle. Would allow free spin with rear wheel power, only engages when power to front motor!

Straight Shooter | May 11, 2011

1) Do you plan on having the charging port on the car on both sides? With most owners having a 1 or 2 car garage, even if we back into a tight spot, the charging port may still be on the wrong side.

Obviously a long charging cable could resolve that, but I don't think you guys were planning on including a 30' long high speed charging cable. We obviously don't want to sling the cable across the hood of the car either.

2) As battery technolongy improves, it is not too hard to imagine that our 300mile battery packs after 5yrs will be down to 80%-90% power anyway. Newer battery packs will become available with much longer ranges and/or much less weight, giving us a longer range and better acceleration. Will the next generation of batteries be backward compatable so that they fit into the 1st generation Model S cars? Even if they are smaller, how hard can it be to create a "holder cartridge" like the micro/mini SD cards have when they slip into a standard SD memory slot?

3) Will any parts of the car be user-serviceable for us "gear heads" or will that immediately void the warrenty?

4) What types of tests have you run, or are you planning on running, the Model S cars on a test track to see what types of objects the car can drive over without causing serious damage (or any damage) to our $20,000 - $30,000 VERY expensive battery packs? How much added protection can you wrap around that battery? Skid plates? I'd REALLY REALLY hate to run over the broken muffler from a Chevy Volt and destroy my battery system.

5) Any plans on offerring after market OEM parts that provide even better performance and or longer ranges? Any option for a more aggressive "governor" that might tap into my battery range a bit, but would offer me a 4.9 sec 0-60mph instead of a 5.6 sec?

Supergreekster | May 11, 2011

Tuchscreen vs. Dials, buttons

I recently borrowed a Toyota Prius from a friend and was disappointed and frustrated that every control was on the touchscreen. It was context sensitive, meaning that if u hit "climate" u then had to orient yourself to that screen. Similarly with radio, etc.

I was having a lot of trouble doing the things that I "needed" (really wanted) to do... Change temp, turn on a/c, try a little radio... Very distracting...

I then noticed there were steering wheel controls... Radio, cruise, and CLIMATE!! I think his climate setting is MANDATORY for steering wheel control, because I found it invaluable... And I am always fiddling with the temp in my car... I love automatic control, but I am always adjusting the temp...

I am a BIG GADGET guy, I have iPhone and iPad (sending this from it)!! I am a bit of an early adopter, too, but I am really hoping that steering wheel PHYSICAL BUTTONS are used for main functions:

1) cruise on/off, speed up (resume), speed down (set)
2) volume up, volume down, right (skip fwd cd/mp3 track, seek radio, sat radio channel up, next favorite), left (skip previous cd/mp3 track, seek radio, sat radio channel down, previous favorite)
3) temp up, temp down
4) pickup phone (green, dial, voice control activate), hangup phone (red, reject call)

IMO anything else more obscure can be handled with voice control... Or wait until you are at a light.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of having this cool, big, customizable interface screen, but there are always glare issues, and while driving at highway speeds, I don't want to look away from the road... I use steering wheel control EXCLUSIVELY, and my temp control I can reach and find without looking...

Perhaps it would be helpful to have some tactile patterns on the left of the touch screen, so you can recognize the bottom, middle, and top. Then you may have a better chance fo being able to make changes without looking... Or gesture-based.

Either way, steering wheel controls are what I will use when going highway speeds... Trying to see what you are doing with a touch screen at those speeds requires a second longer, and will get u in trouble.

In regards to passenger vs. cell phone, I find much more distraction from texting (AWFUL!!), but even handheld cell use is BAD (cannot turn to see blind spots, etc.) I feel that the dialing moment is the most dangerous, so if voice control can do this, then hands free phone is fine. Picking up a ringing phone by hitting a steering wheel mounted button is EASY. Hanging up ins EASY. Dialing is hard...

One more thing:
I do not believe that it is cost effective or worthwhile for tesla to re-invent the wheel when it comes to radio, sat nav, climate control, voice control, Internet browsing, creating an iPod functionality, having in car apps, running a pandora radio. If you want those things, put your iPhone in your pocket. With regards to vehicle systems, they should make there best attempt to stand on the shoulders of what has been done and improve if possible, but the goal should be "match the current state-of-the-art"

I do believe stereo Bluetooth should be included, so you can pandora or play music mp3s from your phone (no matter what brand). Tesla should NOT attempt to make an app platform in the car...

However, I would love an app on the phone to control the car (climate, charge status)

I also like the idea that a single button can do mutiple things: for example:

A quick push-release (click)
A long push (click-hold)
A double click
A click then a click-hold (beginning to get challenging)
Triple click starts to get too hard...

David M. | May 11, 2011

We are all excited to get behind the wheel of this awesome car! Two questions:
1. What are your plans to inhibit theft of the cable when plugging into a standard outlet at a hotel or elsewhere in public? J1772 standard plug right?
2. When will we be able to compare prices and features between the Signature Edition Car and the Production Model S (300mi)?

Thanks for hosting the Q & A.

Mark Petersen | May 11, 2011

Hi Franz

the entertainment system:
will the Internet connection be a standard USB modem or a build in module
will it work as a normal phone (GSM / UMTS / LTE / CDMA)
will it support Bluetooth handsfree mode for multiple mobilephones
will it support (AM / FM / DAB+ / SateliteRadio / InternetRadio)
will it support (USB memory stick / iphone / android)

msiano17 | May 11, 2011

If the media center is going to be 3G or even 4G compatible... is there going to be some sort of subscription required on a monthly basis? or will it be possible to add that into your current phone provider plan?

Supergreekster | May 12, 2011

Could you also elaborate on the GPS system and whether it will locate level 3 charging stations?

Excellent job so far!!

Supergreekster | May 12, 2011

I wouldnlove a little wood trim as an option,

Perforated leather works better for me too...

Supergreekster | May 12, 2011

These may be more of engineering/testing questions, but:

Can you comment on 0-60 time of 5.6?

Is alpha achieving this, or close to it?

Have different battery pack (range 160, 230, 300) options been tested yet?

Does 0-60 time vary with different battery packs?

Can we eventually have a spec for 0-60 for each battery pack choice? Or for signature model, for that matter?

How do battery choices affect overall weight?

Tiebreaker | May 12, 2011

Uh - can we limit the number of posts asking questions to 17?


RobertN | May 12, 2011

Will the Model S be set up with a prewired ability to add a genset trailer? Now, I know, as well as you do, that I'll almost never need a genset. I currently drive a RAV4 EV, and have only used my backup car once in 18 months.
I'm hoping that someday people will be able to rent them like they rent cars now.
Otherwise, cruise control, controls on the steering wheel, and ability to play music off a SD or USB device are things I'm looking for. Thanks!

Charged_Up | May 12, 2011

I'm sure others have asked similar questions, but I would also like to know what options will be available for hot weather - shade for panoramic roof, climate controlled seats (these are great in hot weather!) fans to exhaust hot air while sittng in the sun, etc. I'm also curious to know how much range is affected in the real world by use of cooling in a place like Miami.

Looking forward to learning more about all of the options available...

Signature #92

Mark Petersen | May 13, 2011

will there be a optional extra "Photochromic coating" for the sunroof and side windows

Mark Petersen | May 13, 2011
jkirkebo | May 13, 2011

Will there be an option for a hitch or a roof rack ? I need at least one of these, preferably both.

JimBl | May 13, 2011


Would you ever consider a suspension system like the old DS9 Citroen for the future S?

Will the S ever come with an option for a more powerful motor?

Would you comment on efforts to reduce noise in the car? Many of the roadster owners tell me they have optional noise reduction packages installed. Will such a package exist for the S?

Will the S incorporate bluetooth for connection to the sound system to allow the user to connect MP3 players and cell phones?

I love stats about the performance of the car, would you comment on what kind of reporting will be available?

Many thanks for what you have created. I will sit impatiently for my signature S.

JoachimS | May 14, 2011

I have a question regarding the design of the charge connector that is plugged into the car. Some of you have written about this topic but then asked about risk for theft (and stopped slow charging).
During the previous EV-hype (late 90:s) Marechal together with PSA (Peugeot Citroen) & Renault created a clever sysem to assure that nobody could stop the charging while connected to the car:

It is not totally clear at this picture but the system was created so that the connector is plugged in and "pusched down" to be activated. To make the charging start one needed to close a lid (shown to the right in picture) to cover the connector. This protected from rain and unauthorized release at the same time

This system did not have a nice design but it did a great job preventing someone to stop the charging and un-plug the car (given the fact that the plug in the wall socket is also locked in).
Looking at the current roadster system there are no obstacles at all for someone to stop your charging.

vouteb | May 14, 2011


Sindre | May 14, 2011

How will you handle license plates? Many fancy car designs have no designated designs for the front license plate. This ends up usually looking slightly off or really stupid, as at least here in Norway any car is required to have both a front and rear license plate. Bad examples of this is the Tesla Roadster and most of the Alfa Romeo's where the front license plate is a an added bracket that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Please integrate a flexible space for license plates so it can accomodate license plates of different shapes.


gotwins | May 14, 2011

eeky question here pertaining to the 17" touch screen. From many of the articles I've been reading about the touch screen there seems to be a standard comparison to an iPhone or iPad display.

I'm interested to know whether the comparison is because the 17" touch screen will be the first of it's size for a car, similar to the iPhone/iPad was to cell phones and tablets, or is it because the technology is the same?

The reason I ask is because there is a performance difference between the iPhone/iPad touch screens and most other touch screens used in cars today.

The iPhone/iPad use capacitive sensing touch screens whereas the majority of touch screens used in cars today are resistive touch screens or surface acoustic wave touch screens. The performance varies and in my opinion the capacitive sensing technology used in the iPhone/iPad are far superior to the alternative methods.

Do we know as of yet what type of technology will be used for the Model S?

Thanks for all info.

Kallisman | May 15, 2011

The front grille area seems to have changed quite a bit from the prototype to the Alpha. So I wonder, is this most for aerodynamic reasons to lessen drag, practical reasons considering placement of the radiators, or to make it look better?

Has the car been designed for easy servicing and repairs by qualified personnel when something breaks? I mean as many components as possible, not only those you expect will need replacement, cos unexpected things also break, and labour cost is quite high here in Norway. Will there be a possibility for the car to report errors to Tesla Motors and maybe even receive remote software upgrades or fixes over wireless internet connection? Could a Tesla rep. diagnose it remotely, over a secure connection?

What about things like changing light bulbs (usually too difficult on modern cars), refill of any fluids that might need refilling and other maintenance that should be possible to do by the user?

How much storage space will be under the hood?

Have you thought about protection against scratches on the sides from car doors in tight parking areas? Any good solution?

Has corrosion been properly prevented in all parts of the car? I know it can be difficult with different metals combined. I'm especially concerned about things like the break disks, that tend to rust a lot here in the winter, even without regenerative brakes.

That's it for now. Good luck with the betas:-)

Supergreekster | May 16, 2011

Please comment on front license plate mounting, for some of us in some states / countries, this is mandatory and I think it should be well thought out...

My GT-R has no place to mount on, drill bumper? No, but the tow point on the front bumper can be used for a license plate mount...

Please keep these practical aspects in mind with the design...

Form should follow function...

breading | May 16, 2011

Could you comment on the safety considerations that went into designing the Model S? I am particularly interested in the safety of occupants in the optional rear facing seats. When will preliminary data be available from the beta crash test models?

Thumper | May 16, 2011

I went out today and measured speed bumps around town. Most are about 3" but they have scrape marks on them. Theoretically they shouldn't. The only car I can find that has 113mm ground clearance, is the Porsche Carrera GT. It requires special towing and jacking procedures. Follow the link, click towing then choose Carrera GT. Sorry, I'm using Chrome and can't seem to make the link hot. Cut and paste please.

Honda civic owners with 175mm clearance have trouble when loaded (the vehicle not he driver, well probably then too).

This all leaves me worried about GC.

Supergreekster | May 17, 2011

Can you talk about the key? Will it be a radio key?

Will there be push-button start system (key in pocket/vehicle)?

Will there be an app to control climate from iPhone/android?

Supergreekster | May 17, 2011

How do I insert pic?

Supergreekster | May 17, 2011


David70 | May 17, 2011


What do you mean by "radio key"?

Do you mean something like the Prius smartkey or what?

Supergreekster | May 17, 2011

Smart key / radio key

This does not require physical contact with vehicle. (like placing in door to open, like placing near steering column to start engine)

This key uses RF to communicate with vehicle and disarm security system and allow operation, most luxury auto makers have these, my Nissan GT-R, toyota prius, actually all nissans as option, range rover, BMW, I don't know Mercedes, etc.

You still have buttons to arm/disarm, pop trunk, panic, but key can stay in your pocket and you can push button to start vehicle. If your foot is on the brake, it starts engine, otherwise it activates electronics only...

Sme of these allow other things, like window control from keyfob / smart key... Think roll down windows to vent hot air in summer, hop in, a/c blast and go!!

David70 | May 17, 2011

In that case I'd assumed that the Tesla would have that kind of key. It's available for a number of modern cars.

The only trouble I ever had with the Prius smartkey was the battery in the key. I had to replace it twice in a four year period. IIRC it was a typical battery (2032) used for computer CMOS.

Tiebreaker | May 17, 2011

Dear Supergreekster,

You don't have to post the same picture on all forums in all threads.

toto_48313 | May 17, 2011

- what about the "key"? could it be just a fingerprint on the touch screen? As the car is full electric, no mechanic should be involve for the key. What option did you explore?

- What about the climate control? How the car interior is heated in extreme cold weather, and how is it cooled in warm weather?
What impact on energy consomption and autonomy?

- Could you provide more details (dimensions) on the cargo volume (L x W x H), and openings side (L x W)?

Brian H | May 18, 2011

Gnarly, dude! Also snarly.

ncn | May 18, 2011

- Can we have hard buttons/switches somewhere (steering wheel is fine) for crucial driving features, such as turning on the defogger, which may need to be done *while driving* without taking our eyes off the road? Safety first.
- Fourth agreement on the front license plate bracket. They're mandatory here too and I wouldn't want to be drilling the aluminum frame or anything stupid like that; I also wouldn't want to interfere with ability to open the "second trunk" in the front. You need a standard front license plate bracket spot.