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.

David70 | June 23, 2011

And that percentage is going up. Even at that, my comment right now brings the total to 200, and they've got to stop accepting additions at some point. Some are very easy to eliminate, and a lot are more technical rather than design.

I'm waiting for and invitation to ask questions that are primarily technical in nature.

Brian H | June 23, 2011

You'll have a long wait. Anyhow, engineers are inarticulate, and famously can barely spell "enjinear". ;)

David70 | June 23, 2011

Reminds me of a cartoon I saw years ago. "Yesterday I cudn't evun spell enjinear, but today I are one." That's not an exact quote, but you get the idea. Of course, no one can actually get an engineering degree in a day, but some people are called engineers without a degree. At least it was that way 30 years ago.

Brian H | June 24, 2011

yeah, that was the old joke (as Btold by scientists) I was referring to.

But you know, I think I'd rather trust science done by engineers than the reverse.

David70 | June 24, 2011

I don't know about science done by engineers, but I'd certainly trust engineering done by engineers more by scientists.

For that matter, I know E.E.s have skills and techniques that physicists don't have. And I learned some tricks in grad school from some engineers in thermodynamics.

David70 | June 24, 2011

Darn lack of editing. That should be "more than by scientists".

B.Noing | June 27, 2011

Dear Franz,

Your original design is a masterpiece- sensual, fluid, understated yet somehow aggressive. The Alpha, not so much. My questions:

1.) It's not just the grill, the whole front end seems higher, more "normal" and clumsier. Is this true or is it the (unfortunate in my opinion) new front vent shapes? I loved the way the vent strip lights and head light strip lights reinforced each other. Such a unique signature.

2.) The new vent/logo behind the front wheels seems tacked on. Will the final version have the original design?

3.) Lastly, It seems like one of the great opportunities of this car is giving us tall people more leg room (leg room is the distance from the gas pedal to the steering wheel, not the seat). What is that dimension?

Thanks, I know that holding on to a design thru engineering realities is no small task.

msiano17 | June 29, 2011

So one day left for the end of the next month... anyone think the press conference and blog post is going to happen tomorrow? Or should we be now expecting end of July for an update?

Designtime | June 29, 2011

I am not expecting a comprehensive Q&A at all at this point. I wouldn't be surprised by getting a watered down version that was actually put together by a staffer.

ncn | June 30, 2011

If we can get answers about the underclearance and door clearance (definitely design issues!), and the front license plate bracket (a huge styling issue!), I'd be happy. Both questions have now been asked *repeatedly* by many people, and not answered yet, so if they answer any questions, I hope they answer these!

I'd also love to get some answers about the location of the charging port, but I suspect they haven't decided, which is why they are saying nothing.

cytek | July 1, 2011

Upon close up inspection on Model S prototype on display, I noticed the front end is a very poorly thought out design. Although the front end styling looks nice aesthetically with influence from Aston Martin's original design ($$$), the hood extends all the way to the front end above the grille without separate bumper section. During front end collisions, the hood will get easily damaged together with the grille and front body panel. I also imagine of rumors that the charging port will also be hidden inside the front grille. This will be a very expensive repair cost potentially considering it's made of alluminum. I'd rather have a front panel with grille and bumper as one section for impact (crumple) zone that can be easily replaced at low cost, rather than having to also replace the hood as well. Who knows how much it will cost to also replace the front charging port? With similarities to Maserati's front end design, Maserati has done a good job designing their front end without exposing the hood to the front end.

I hope Tesla rethinks this major design flaw for avoiding expensive front end collision repair costs. They should reconsider affordable lower costs with minimum parts replacement for mass target market potential.

txjak | July 4, 2011

The San Jose Mercury News has an article online dated June 25th in which Franz comments on how Tesla cars may use internet and wireless capabilities.

David M. | July 5, 2011

From this Tesla comment "Tesla expects to see its cars serving as Wi-Fi hubs for phones and tablets", it sounds like the car will have an independent and dedicated connection - independent of your mobile phone's data plan. Awesome!

Nicu | July 5, 2011

Yes, awesome, another $70 / month. Some other EV manufacturers lease the battery for that much so you get a cheaper car and never have to replace the battery at your own expense.

David M. | July 5, 2011

With the quantity of cars Tesla will be delivering, they should be able to get basic 3G data plans for about $10 / month. Your cost probably free for the first 6 to 12 months, then probably about $15 - $20 / month thereafter. XM Radio has been doing this for years. This would be well worth $20/mo to get a Wi-Fi hub in the car.

Nicu | July 5, 2011

For a wi-fi hub you absolutely need unlimited data plans. They are on the brink of extinction (VZ just announced $80 / 10GB, $10 for every extra GB, end of unlimited plans soon; AT&T don't offer unlimited plans for quite some time). Adding the 4G capability and the carriers are going to milk anything they can - shhhh, don't tell them Model S is a luxury car, you may quickly jump over $100 / month.

There are manufacturers that sell millions tablets a quarter and they do not get any special rates. Everybody is milked equally. Happy milk shake !

Thumper | July 6, 2011

I suppose if you want to drive along listening to Pandora, and using the navigation, you will suck a lot of 3G data fast. If you can forgo the Pandora and limit the nav use, you can keep the data rates down. I have unlimited VZ now but only used 55meg on a recent multi-day trip. I only used the vav to check traffic occasionally and to drive straight to the motel reservations. No need to run it all up and down I 5. We will need to use Nav more with the Mod S to locate charge points. If we could plan a trip at home, and push the data into memory on the Mod S through home wifi, we could eliminate a lot of 3/4G data use.

Nicu | July 6, 2011

Let the kids stream some cartoons for a few hours and you eat up much of the quota. A wi-fi hotspot invites to the usual wi-fi behavior. Sprint still has unlimited data plans, so finally, who knows ?

Brian H | July 8, 2011

The most burning question right now is what happened to the answers from 2 months ago? Letting this post sit open without updates or explanation for the non-response is amateur hour stuff.

Someone is getting overpaid and arrogant.

David M. | July 9, 2011

Best way for Verizon or AT&T to get free advertising is to negotiate special unlimited data plans for Tesla cars. I'll bet you will see unlimited data plans in the Model S. Free for 6 to 12 months, then $15 (or so) thereafter. You'll see.

zdre | July 15, 2011

The transparency has really been lacking since TM went public. I am guessing the company does not have the bandwidth to do too many SEC filings since they are focused on Model S development.

Timo | July 16, 2011

I think Tesla Motors is going belly up, they can't even hire people to maintain website anymore.

Mittar | July 17, 2011

Yeah, how responsive a car company is to it's online forums is a great indicator of financial health /end sarcasm.

Mark Petersen | July 17, 2011

well AT&T just need to get there act together and introduse som data plan like we have in Scandinavia
where you can get an unlimitet data plan with same provider free + 50h and 3xSIMcards 21Mbit ($100)
well you also can get a cheaper on to only $8
and all incomming calls + sms are free

Volker.Berlin | July 22, 2011

Yeah, finally. A discussion of Franz' comments is going on here:

Tesla | July 22, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your patience while Franz prepared his answers. Model S Program Director Jerome Guillen jumped in to answer some as well. The blog is now posted here:

hubertz | July 22, 2011

I presently have a Seville SLS. Will the model S have the same features I'm used to?

tommyto21 | August 3, 2011

wow. a lot of ideas. looks like there are a lot of TESLA S lovers.
will it has a 4G Wimax/GSM/CDMA capability on it?
-Terabyte hard disk for entertainment?
-GPS tracking system in case it is stolen. lol. but it is the truth.
-Water-Resistant/Proof battery compartment in case it hits the flood rain water on the road or in a car wash?
-Remote-start like OnStar. or Onstar option?
-Viper-like security system?
-Can it be a solar-panel hood, trunk cover, top?
-Park-Assist like Ford?
so on......

tommyto21 | August 3, 2011

For Roadster, why not a hard-top convertible?

VolkerP | August 5, 2011


the option list for Model S is not fixed yet. It is announced for end of year. Expect it to contain the same features like the cars Model S is positioned against: A BMW 5er or Mercedes E class. What is a Seville SLS? Better name your most favored gizmos but don't expect a definitive answer since no forum poster can give one and TM does not want to.

Any Sedan cannot be turned lightly into a convertible since that requires extra strength in the car body. It's either a redesign or the frame must be stronger from the start. I doubt that Tesla spends the extra money and weight on Model S.
Check out the forum for your other questions, lots of threads deal with them.

anflorez | August 5, 2011

Will the Model S have a projection system, like Lexus does now, that will project maps and other GPS information onto the windshield?

I'm thinking of making reservation to a Signature series. When will the 'options' to be made available in the Signature series be made public?

Patrice Boivin | August 6, 2011

Being in Canada, a 4WD option would be very much appreciated. Will we have this option available in 2012? Given that options such as 4WD are software based, can we expect improvements or new versions downloaded from the web eventually?

Timo | August 6, 2011

4WD does require "a bit" more than just software, for example something small that transfers power to front wheels like electric motor.

Maybe you did mean something else with "4WD" than what it usually means? ESP? Or 4G as in phone connectivity?

jkirkebo | August 6, 2011

I think he meant if the software that controls the 4WD system would be upgradeable. Not that software is all that's needed.

EdG | August 6, 2011

I think he's confusing 4WD with limited slip features. If I understand it correctly, the way an EV applies torque to the wheels makes for some very nice limited slip features for free. Perhaps others know more about how (or if) this works.

pplstan92 | August 6, 2011

Is the Model S front, rear, or all wheel drive?
The Model S is a rear wheel drive vehicle. Tesla traction control technology provides excellent grip, even in low-traction conditions

Need to make a front wheel drive! Living in a region that gets snow, everyone knows rear wheel drive ownership is out! Saftey First? Sell to the masses? FWD...please.

pplstan92 | August 6, 2011

Zipcar may just be a Tesla killer.

pplstan92 | August 6, 2011

Need to build a electric motorcycle!

Timo | August 6, 2011

I live in Finland, and rear-wheel drive is just as safe as front wheel drive. You just need proper tires and a little bit common sense (and tiny bit driving skills).

As for Zipcar, I didn't even know what that was before googling, and claiming that car rental service kills Tesla is like saying that car rental service kills Volkswagen. Not going to happen.

If you need to build electric motorcycle, go ahead and build one. Tesla doesn't need to build one.