3/18 Santana Row Event

3/18 Santana Row Event

Just returned from the Santana Row event, some thoughts:

The TM rep we talked to said that the "esses" on display had recently come off the production line although they did have "Beta" painted on the lower third of the doors.

The leather colors in the digital design studio are not accurate, the grey appears a little darker and the tan appears more yellow than the showroom samples.
According to the TM rep. the design studio should be up and running next week.

As for the S, the fit and finish of interior trim is not quite what I would expect from a car in it's class. Most strikingly, the doors don't have that solid sound/feel you get with a MB or Audi. Perhaps because it's aluminum and lighter weight? The interior door latch release handles look great but feel "thin" and a little too "sharp" (not literally sharp but not totally smooth either) on the fingers. The center armrest/cup-holder seems like an after thought and I think the cup-holder would be just about useless.

The gear shift is on the steering column, I didn't think federal guidelines even allowed this. The TM rep said that they had borrowed a shift lever from a Mercedes but I can't think of any North American production car that has a gear shift on the steering column. The roadsters have pushbuttons why didn't TM stick with this design?

Jason S | 18 mars 2012

I don't mind the gear shift where it is. Just someplace where I don't need to think about how to put into Drive/Neutral/Reverse and the column is fine.

The interior handles are a concern, hope that gets resolved. I've never really noticed how a door 'feels' as long as it gets the job done.

I agree re: existing arm rest feeling like a poor design and am hopeful for something better in the future.

William9 | 18 mars 2012

I have a MB S550 that has that shift lever and I love it here. Easy to engage with two right fingers of right hand without losing contact of the steering wheel.

William9 | 18 mars 2012

But I agree on the door "feel".

dborn | 18 mars 2012

I have always judged the quality of a car by the " feel" of the door, especially when it closes. I look for a solid " thunk". Anyone out there with an all aluminium car? Audi perhaps? Who can tell us what such a door feels like on a quality upmarket vehicle?

Mark E | 19 mars 2012

I have a Porsche 928 that has aluminium doors - they are much lighter and make a different noise when closing.
They have a totally different feel to steel doors - especially when they are large. The model s will be replacing the 928 - a tall order as I love that car.

I'm not a fan of column shift selectors and the interior really needs to step up, especially around storage. My 928 has the console with places for the phone/iPod and mints etc. Each door has concealed pockets that are ideal for the tyre gauge, a torch & odds and sods. In each of the footwells there is a shelf for other items. A box of tissues, sunglasses in their cases etc, all hidden from view. I use all of these storage spaces daily.

I'm looking forward to seeing the final interior. A centre console with the shift buttons would be my preferred configuration.

Mark E

dborn | 19 mars 2012

Ime in Australia, so i live in hope Thanks mark e. much appreciated. I too want storage and have let my customer rep know this. However my car will only be delivered in a years tIme in Australia, so i live in hope.

dborn | 19 mars 2012

Damn the lack of ability to edit!!

Brian H | 19 mars 2012

From the tail end of this video you have Blankenship's assurance they're working on a factory console accessory option. You should be fine.

Brian H | 19 mars 2012

P.S. to above;
Seems those guys haunt TMC, timing how long it takes a blog post or press release to hit the comments. 2-3 minutes seems to be standard ...

rd2 | 19 mars 2012

I was ok with the fit and finish, but they definitely need a better console design. I'm not asking for much, but not being able to rest your arm easily when there's a cup in your cup holder is kind of silly. Another concealed storage compartment in center console would be good too to hide stuff from view. Should be easy to fix though. The Signature paints look great. Does anyone know if the top of the dashboard (the side that faces the windshield) was a different color on the beige interior signature, as compared to the black and silver ones on display? I couldn't tell myself, maybe because of the lighting, but it seemed a dark brown.

rd2 | 19 mars 2012

btw - did anyone else notice the the rear passenger door on the black Model S signature on display was NOT OPENING? The TM rep said that there had been a lot of 'abuse' of this S such that the door opening mechanism broke. This is a little concerning to me. I cannot recall ever seeing a car door handle 'break' from overuse. It makes me worry a bit that the design of the retractable handles is not sturdy enough. While owners will be sure to be careful to not stress the mechanism at all, other passengers cannot be trusted nor expected to know how to 'properly' open this door.

What do you all think of this? Big deal or not?

Schlermie | 19 mars 2012

I noticed the handles on the black model looked unfinished. They almost had the appearance of brushed aluminum, but not deliberately done so; whereas, the handles on the other models had the look of polished chrome. I asked one of the staff if that finish was an option for the handles or just something peculiar about that model. He said that was just a peculiarity of that particular model, which has suffered some amount of abuse and all production vehicles will have handles with the polished chrome. Maybe the comment about the abuse was just a bunch of BS, or maybe it's somehow related to your observation about the failing door.

Vawlkus | 19 mars 2012

Or maybe they had a couple of different door mechanisms, and the black car's mechanism was rejected as unsuitable long term, while the chrome ones prevailed.

olanmills | 19 mars 2012

I know, I really wish the gear shifter was either on the touchscreen or were implemented as buttons in the nonexistent center console. I like the way it is in the newest Jaguars.

jd3tm | 19 mars 2012

I asked about the steering column controls for PNDR, etc. None of them are final yet. I specifically asked if PNDR control was going to end up on the column...NOT finalized yet, they are still evaluating options. this does seem like an area that needs critical thought. Parking break is automatically engaged when you select Park and Dis-engaged when you select NDorR.

I expect the other controls to remain where they are on the steering column. I gather that the steering wheel itself is now final including controls that are physically mounted on the wheel. I think the only are still being Designed is what to do with PNDR selector.

Note that both the Silver and Black S's were "older" betas. The Silver one was the one used for cold weather assessment and the Black is apparently the "oldest" of the Betas.

Schlermie | 19 mars 2012

That's a good point. About a month ago, one of the Tesla staff told me the handle mechanism had recently been redesigned due to all the troubles they were having on the early models. I'm told the early design was simply driven by an electric motor, but the revised design is partially spring driven to help the motor when it pushes out the handle.

breading | 19 mars 2012

I am glad to hear that PNDR on the column is not finalized yet. I agree with other commenters that push buttons are the way to go. But then, that would require a center console...

tezco | 19 mars 2012

The aluminum doors on my '97 A8 are very soild and close with an authorative sound.

EcLectric | 21 mars 2012

I went to the Santana Row event. I was impressed with the general look of the 'Interior' part of the design studio. I didn't see any obvious bugs in it and I think it will be out soon. I noticed something about the lacewood in the car. If you've ever shopped for granite for a countertop or other home use, you know that any two pieces of the same 'type' of granite appear different, sometimes radically so. It appears to be the same with lacewood. The pattern of the lacewood in the Model S on display looked very different from the samples they had in the store. In fact, the lacewood pattern in the car was not consistent in look from the inside of the dash to the outside. If you are picky about the way the dash looks, I would be careful about selecting lacewood because the way it appears in your car may not be what you are expecting. On the other hand, if you want to have a one-of-a-kind car then lacewood would be a great choice.

I like the shifter control being on the steering column. You can drive the car without removing your hands from the wheel. The only reason to put the shifter anywhere else was to control the transmission directly (mechanically). Thankfully, this is not required in an electric car.

The headroom in the front seat is excellent. I have a tall torso and usually my head (or at least hair) scrapes against the headliner in many cars. It's really bad if I'm wearing a helmet (autocross). The headroom in the back seat is not as good and if I had to spend any time in there, I would probably sit in the middle seat to avoid the sides of the roof, which (though padded) would hit the side of my head if it was a bumpy ride. Sitting in the middle is fine because there's no transmission hump to get in the way.

I like the way they provided color samples of the exterior that you can combine with interior samples (leather and carbon-fiber, for example) to see the whole look of the interior with the exterior color. Too bad they didn't have a blue car there. So far, that's my choice.

Can't wait to get my car!

ddruz | 23 mars 2012

For those who saw the recent betas: The stick on the right of the steering column is the gear shift. The front stick on the left looks like it is turn indicator and windshield wipers, yes? But what does the rear stick on the left do? Is this headlights and/or cruise control? If not, what is it and how do you control headlights and cruise control? Thanks.

Volker.Berlin | 23 mars 2012

ddruz, we have (inofficial) confirmation that the Model S steering column is a Mercedes part in (thin) disguise. Which means that the third, smaller stick is for cruise control. For lights, Mercedes has a turn switch in the dash board, left to the steering wheel.

The cruise control stalk is pretty nifty, IMO. What I don't like, though, is having turn indicator and wipers on the same stalk. But I'll get over it, like so many Mercedes drivers before, particularly b/c wipers have a rain sensor so the stalk will rarely be used for anything except turn indicators.

ddruz | 23 mars 2012

Volker.Berlin, Thanks, very helpful. Do you expect lights will be controlled with a turn switch in the dash or via the touchscreen? In either case how do you toggle from low to high beams?

Volker.Berlin | 23 mars 2012

ddruz, for low beam we have confirmation that there is a light sensor to automatically switch the lights as needed (particularly convenient for tunnels). On top of that, some light options can be set in the touch screen (I imagine override light sensor -- always off/always on).

As for the high beam, I would be thrilled if that would adjust automatically, too, in which case there is no binary high beam on/off, but a continuous adjustment to accommodate oncoming traffic. I'm afraid, the Model S won't offer a system like this, at least not in the beginning -- see discussion about adaptive cruise control.

Therefore, we'll have to manually switch the high beam on and off, and the hopelessly overladen Mercedes turn indicators/wipers stalk also will provide the means to this end. My only comfort is that so many Mercedes fans are happy with it, so we'll get used to that as well.

ddruz | 23 mars 2012

Volker.Berlin, Thanks again. One last question: In looking at all the photos people posted from last week it appears as if there is a hand hold to shut the front door just aft of the chrome door handle. Is that an optical illusion or is that correct? If correct, is that hand hold recess deep enough to hold sunglasses or some change or some small odds and ends? In other words could it be used for a modicum of storage within reach of the driver as well as a door closing hand hold if that's what it is?

Volker.Berlin | 23 mars 2012

ddruz, that is correct but it's small, really just a hand hold. Thinking about it, I assume that the touch sensitive door opener will go in there -- perfect placement when you want to open the door, but next to impossible to trigger accidentally. And think of the surprise for your passengers when they want to open the door and cannot see neither a handle nor a button...! ;-) Since the door is so clean and clutter free, there is really not a lot of choice other than placing the hand in that hand hold -- and "pop", the door opens.

In either case, I don't think you'd want to carry sunglasses or change there.

Volker.Berlin | 23 mars 2012
EdG | 23 mars 2012

This is the best photo I could find:

So, V.B, you think the door switch might be hidden in the larger volume (top,left)? The "chrome" thing to the right (in the photo) seems to be an almost standard door handle... ??

Volker.Berlin | 23 mars 2012

I can only guess, but based on what was discussed in this thread, I assume the polished door lever is going to disappear.

Ohms.Law | 23 mars 2012

Several in this thread have used the term "gear shift" to refer to the thingy on the steering column that activates different modes of driving. Okay, here's a question: do we, about-to-be EV owners, need to adopt a different terminology when referring to "shifting gears"? Or do you think this will just become part of the lexicon like "dialing a telephone number"?

Just curious.

dborn | 23 mars 2012

You are engaging a gear.......

olanmills | 23 mars 2012

Man, I'm not going to like cruse control on the stalk if it's really like that in the final version.

space09 | 23 mars 2012

Is it wrong if I want an app that has Picard say "Engage" every time I put the car into drive? :-)

ggr | 23 mars 2012

My merc has the cruise control stalk, and I find it very intuitive and easy to use. Just different to a bunch of buttons, is all.

dborn | 23 mars 2012

The Merc cruise control stalk is so intuitive and easy to use that i sincerely hope it stays. That is a great feature. I use my cruise control all the time even in city driving because it is so easy. can't say i did that with any previous car. The stalk gear selector bothers me a bit, as in a right hand drive country, it can be mistaken for turn indicator or wiper control, especially if the family has two cars e.g. Japanese and European. The indicator stalks are on opposite sides of the steering column. Makes for confusion if you drive both vehicles on occasion.

Volker.Berlin | 24 mars 2012

ddruz, I stand corrected: In the new design studio it is obvious that there are three(!) stalks on the left hand side of the steering wheel: Dedicated wiper stalk at the top, big indicator (and presumably high-beam, possibly more light-related functions) in the middle, and the small cruise control stalk at the bottom.

ThomasN | 24 mars 2012

I thought the bottom stalk was or adjusting the steering wheel?

bbmertz | 25 mars 2012

I like the uniqueness of the lacewood, but am concerned by EcLectric's comments about the lack of consistency of the trim in the betas. I like the dark brown look in the new design studio, which would go well with black leather interior, but not the speckled lighter gray version I have seen in other photos. Perhaps the difference is between earlier and later beta models. Regardless, I may have to go with piano black if Tesla can't ensure a consistent look for the lacewood interior.

Blue is also my top choice, but I wish I could see it in person on a beta. I'm guessing we won't see it for a while since this is not a Signature color and therefore probably not in production.

Larry Chanin | 25 mars 2012

I like the uniqueness of the lacewood, but am concerned by EcLectric's comments about the lack of consistency of the trim in the betas. I like the dark brown look in the new design studio, which would go well with black leather interior, but not the speckled lighter gray version I have seen in other photos. - bbmertz

What dark brown lacewood are you referring to?



dborn | 26 mars 2012

A great pity that the lacewood has been stained black. It would look great left natural colour and varnished. Natural timber goes with virtually any colour scheme.

adstein | 26 mars 2012

Dborn. +1

Michael37 | 29 mars 2012

On the cars at Santana Row, the skinny stalk at the top was cruise control. The big fat stalk below it was turn signals and wiper controls. The stubby little stalk at the bottom (very short) adjusts the steering wheel.

Personally, the only thing I don't like about the stalk arrangement is that the cruise control is closer to where I place my hands while driving than the turn signal is. I use the turn signal far more often than cruise, so I would prefer for those two to be exchanged.

Obviously, MB drivers have done fine with this configuration, so I'm sure it's not a big deal, but it's not how I would have done it if I were the benevolent dictator. ;-)

Brian H | 30 mars 2012

"Imperial benevolent Designer-In-Chief-King", you mean. (Better acronym).


Volker.Berlin | 30 mars 2012

On the cars at Santana Row, the skinny stalk at the top was cruise control. The big fat stalk below it was turn signals and wiper controls. The stubby little stalk at the bottom (very short) adjusts the steering wheel. (Michael37)

Thank you for filling in the details! So my guess based on the design studio images was a little off.

erik | 30 mars 2012

CC on a stick is definitly the more intuitive way to go. My wife's Volvo has it as a button on the steering wheel. I always have to look down to find it, taking my eyes of the road. In my Passat however it's just an up or down click on a button on a stick. As it is the only button on that side of the stick, the hands have no trouble finding it It becomes muscle memory.