Model S false "grill" design

Model S false "grill" design

Congratulations on an outstandng overall design. It is beautiful but that pseudo grill is horrible.
It cheapens the sleek design and absolutely destroys the image of an electric automobile.
Sticking on a non-effective, non-purposeful piece of PLASTIC????

Sparrow | 21 janvier 2011

I thought it looked out of place too.

Volker.Berlin | 21 janvier 2011

Here is a whole slew of posts on this topic:

jsanok | 21 janvier 2011

The more I think about it, the more I think they are just disguising the real styling. They can't be that stupid.

trydesky | 22 janvier 2011

I don't think this is the final version of the car. But, as I've read on Tesla's website, every millimeter is designed for aerodynamics. If this "less sexy" grill is the most aerodynamic design, then I'm fine with it. I'd rather go 10 more miles per charge than look pretty.

Timo | 22 janvier 2011

It is not that bad if it just loses the black mask. I liked it without the black color. There is no grill actually, just black mask and couple of openings under the "bumper". That black part is solid and not even single piece (if you look closely bonnet extends to it).

michiganmodels | 22 janvier 2011

I spoke with the Tesla folks at the NAIAS. The grill and other aspects are not the final version. Wait for the beta and production models.

Timo | 23 janvier 2011

I'm just saying that this black mask is just hiding the true nose. Pretty effectively I would say, based on comments I have seen. It does look good even in this form, just remove the mask to see it. It is quite different to those mockups though, That spoiler and those A/C (cabine and battery) require openings in places where they are not in those mockups, so it will *not* look the same, no matter what they do.

Roblab | 23 janvier 2011

I think you're right Timo. This is just alpha. You don't need full grille for crash testing and such. And I wonder where the charge port is, too. I bet it will be on the front, a la Leaf.

jfeister | 25 janvier 2011

C'mon guys, have some faith. You know this is an "alpha" build. They've said this car is about 85% fidelity. They aren't going to pour all they effort into a beautiful car and leave an ugly black nose on the front. In a way the whole situation is funny. They want to get something out there as quickly as they can so people can see the progress has been made, but then everyone focuses on the unfinished details. Guess you just can't win.

heems | 25 janvier 2011

@jfeister: +1

msiano17 | 25 janvier 2011

@ Roblab

charge port is supposed to be in the similar position of where your gas tank door will be towards the rear of the car ... how they have it on the Roadster

Filipe Portugal | 26 janvier 2011

Agree that the "pseudo grill" looks realy bad , a very easy aspect that they can correct, but the rest of the car for me can bee at 100% it

Vawlkus | 26 janvier 2011

jfeister has won this thread.

Roblab | 26 janvier 2011

"similar position to where your gas tank door will be...."

Why? Chargers will be in front of the car nearly always.

Let's see. Old gas guzzlers. Fill pipe behind license plate. Fill pipe on rear fender. Fill pipes (two even!) by trunk lid. Reason? Gas stinks and explodes, too. Fuel tanks have to be in rear for safety. Not so with electrons.

Timo | 26 janvier 2011

Position of the battery/PEM might have something to do in that too. That makes shortest route to it close to rear tire and similar place as gas tank filling is naturally best place to put the plug.

ckessel | 26 janvier 2011

Can you even move the car while it's plugged in? I wouldn't be surprised if, as a safety feature, the car won't come out of park if it's plugged in.

Kevin Sharpe | 27 janvier 2011

The car will not move with the charging cable plugged in.

Douglas3 | 27 janvier 2011

Car will not move with the charge port door open. Doesn't matter if the cable is attached or not.

Michael37 | 6 juin 2011

I've driven electric vehicles since 1999 (an EV-1, now a RAV4-EV). IMO, the front is the right place for the plug. Think about it:

Where is it convenient to put a charger on a nose-in parking space, especially a row of such spaces? At the front.

In a private garage, you can't know whether or not the car will be typically parked with the wall on the left or right side, but you can mount a charger on the back wall of the garage (opposite the garage door), or on the side wall near the nose, and have easy access to a port in the front either way.

I park my car on the right side of the garage (as seen pulling in). This gives me the most room to open my driver's door and get easily in and out. With my charger on the right wall near the nose, it's a simple stop on my way to the door to plug in the car. On my way out in the morning, it's again a quick stop to unplug. If it's in a location like a traditional gas cap, I would have to walk around the car, get a long cable and unroll it (getting my hands dirty, probably) and walk back around to the back of the car and plug in. Then, in the morning, I have to repeat the process.

It's not a user-friendly location. The other EV makers (GM EV-1, Toyota RAV4-EV, Nissan Leaf) got this one right. The Volt and the old Honda EV Plus got it semi-right by putting it towards the front, but on the side.

ncn | 6 juin 2011

Agreed about the charging port location. It *should* be at the front, so that I can put the outlet on the back wall of my garage. (I always pull into my garage forward and reverse when going out, which seems rather common.)

But I can deal with the charging port being in a different location... but I have to KNOW so I can know where to put the outlet in my garage. Back wall is easier, but I can do either side wall. But I can't do the wiring until I KNOW.

VolkerP | 8 juin 2011

The burgundy Model S prototype has a charge port in the rear left side as shown in the Detroit NAIAS 2010 image series. It's gone. I cannot detect a charge port door on any of the alpha images. I don't see any cabling on the "torque box" rear axle module that seems to be related to charging. It must be a set of orange high voltage cables (3? 5?) running from the charge port to the PEM which acts as on board charger.

I agree that a charge port in the vehicle front will work best for most scenarios. Any facts or suggestions where it will be on Model S?

Timo | 8 juin 2011

I thought that there must be at least one picture where that charging port is visible, but no. I watched the Alpha hits the road videos, did go thru the Autobloggreen pictures (which are much more detailed than pictures here), pictures in here and not one of those reveal where that charging port is.

That's one well hidden charging port. I mean, it isn't small one, that connector is quite large and it needs a cover to prevent dirt from getting there, so it should be visible. Maybe alpha models do not have such thing as charging port, they might just have that connector inside the car, and beta model does then have it.

That's design question. Copy & paste to Franz blog questions.

Volker.Berlin | 8 juin 2011

I'll venture a wild guess: The charge port is hidden behind the often-cited nose cone! There is a button on the dash board (and possibly another one on the radio key, or in the Tesla smartphone app) that will pop open the grille -- et voila: Charge port. :-)

ncn | 12 juin 2011

Volker, I like your guess, but we were also speculating that the nose cone was going to be used for the front license plate bracket! That's gonna be one design-critical nose cone, if so!

VolkerP | 14 juin 2011

Volker EU

I second your guess.
You should try to get front license plate BÄ - for Bärlin. With the dots on the A serving as 240V connector holes.

Volker.Berlin | 14 juin 2011

Oh yeah! :-) I'll go and reserve the "BÄRLIN" number on the spot. And while we're at it, I'll also go and patent the use of Umlauts in number plates. I haven't seen that yet, so it seems to be a new -- hence patentable -- idea...

Timo | 15 juin 2011

Too late, äöå at least are already in use in scandinavia.

ChristianG | 15 juin 2011

the first pic here seems to be like an updated Alpha, so the grill looks way better than the black thingy before.

Volker.Berlin | 15 juin 2011

This picture and two more that presumably show the same vehicle are also up on Tesla's website:

Daxz | 15 juin 2011

Is the charge port inside the small round door in front of rear taillight on drivers side:

Kallisman | 15 juin 2011

That's an early prototype picture, or computer rendering. On the expanded alpha pics it doesn't seem to be any door there anymore.

EdG | 15 juin 2011

This one is in the current gallery, showing the same circle:

Tim10 | 15 juin 2011

EdG - that is still the prototype

Volker.Berlin | 16 juin 2011

Hi everybody, just for orientation: The White One was a mockup, for photo shootings and exhibition only, not even drivable. I think that it has head rests mounted "in the air", but no real seats, and only the upper half of the steering wheel, etc.

Then there was The Gray One, a drivable prototype that was originally revealed on March 26, 2009, in Los Angeles. It received another paint job later and now is known as Deep Cherry, but it is still the same prototype vehicle from 2 years ago, and currently tours across North America. As far as I know, it is based on a MB chassis, which is why the handling, but also the interior room and particularly the cargo spaces are significantly different from the final Model S. All Model S videos on youtube show this vehicle, in gray or in red (except for the "Alpha hits the road" video published by Tesla, see next paragraph).

Then, we have the "Alpha hits the road" video that shows a vehicle built by Tesla from scratch (no more MB chassis, no prototype). This vehicle is gray similar to the prototype but has the infamous "nose cone" in place of the expected grille. And finally, there are some marketing photos that show another Alpha build (possibly photoshopped, particularly wrt the grille) in black color. Neither the video nor the marketing photos of the Alpha show any hint of where the charge port may be located, but that may be on purpose. Tesla loves wow-effects (can you say door handles?) and last minute surprises, never-mind their unprecedented transparency in the development process of the Model S.

The most interesting pictures available so far are probably from the "Alpha Workshop Photo Tour" from March 2011. Two series of similar but different photos have been published by autoblog and by Tesla themselves, showing a couple of Alphas at different build stages. Look closely, maybe you can also spot a hint to a charge port? I couldn't:

These photos already served to confirm that the Model S will have frameless, coupe-like doors, although there has not yet been any official statement.

Don't let the photos fool you though: The steering wheel that can be seen in one of them has already been identified as a stock MB wheel, so this most probably does not have any meaning wrt the steering wheel we will see in the final Model S.
(on the bottom of the page)

Please correct me if you think that any of the above statements is wrong or incomplete. I am trying to summarize what we have seen so far, having followed the Model S for over 2 years now.

Volker.Berlin | 16 juin 2011

In this video at 1:29 and 1:38 there is a Model S exhibited (with yet another grille) that I was not aware of. Does anybody know where/when this exhibition was and where the car that was on display there is now?

EdG | 16 juin 2011

Thank you (from all of us who are far newer to this site than you are) for the information.

Given the photos show a car with a big ugly metal box sticking out of the dashboard, I can only assume it is not a finished model. If it were me managing the design schedules, I don't think the a clean charging port flap would be higher on my list than the dashboard installation of the display. I'm assuming they haven't yet bothered putting in an industry standard jack, but are using the equivalent of jumper cables for now. So there wouldn't be any hint of where the port is going to be.

We'll just have to leave our garages as is until we get more information, rather than having our charging apparatus installed and collecting dust for a year.

I'm still hoping I can pull my car straight in to the garage and, on the way to the house, attach the charging cable to the car. That way I can save the few steps twice a day (on the way from and to the car) to attach and release the cable with as little change to my flow as possible. And, maybe, if the charging mechanism can be mounted horizontally, I'll just pull the cable down from the ceiling (on a retractable mounting) so no one trips over it.

Todd Burch | 16 juin 2011


The image of the car with the "mesh" grill is one of the early prototype mules. It's several years old. Sorry, not sure where it was taken.

Volker.Berlin | 16 juin 2011

Todd, it seems that you are almost right. I did a quick Google image search and found very few shots of this particular thing, e.g.,

From these and other sources I get the impression that
this was not a prototype, not even a mockup (interior seems to be missing, "windows" are plain black), this may very well be a clay model.
this is probably the model that can be seen in the teaser photos that were published the days before the official event on March 26, 2009 (half-covered at first, then uncovered, but only shot strictly from the side, so the front is indiscernible in those images).

In any case, this model is a predecessor of The White One and The Gray One and has probably become obsolete by now.

Supergreekster | 16 juin 2011

I don't see the charge port in any recent photos either, but previously on left rear quarter panel just in front of left brake lights. I see no reason for them to change that... You may be right that front of car is better, but this is consistent with roadster, driver rear...

daniel1948 | 16 juin 2011

I don't like a false grille. It's an EV. It should proclaim its lack of need for a grille by not having a false one.

Now, if a grille is needed for the A/C condenser or the battery-cooling system, fine. But don't put a false one on it just to make it look like a stinker. Please.

jfeister | 16 juin 2011

If you read that article it talks about EV "experts" at Ford and Apeture saying that a 300 mile pack would be way to big and heavy to be practical, and here we are today with it in a sedan that does 0-60 in 5.6 seconds.

Just goes to show that Tesla skeptics aren't smarter. They are just projecting their own inability to achieve what Tesla achieves.

Volker.Berlin | 16 juin 2011

I don't like a false grille. It's an EV. It should proclaim its lack of need for a grille by not having a false one. (daniel1948)

You mean, like, why not add false tail pipes, too? ;-)

daniel1948 | 17 juin 2011

Or a CD of engine-revving noise. Uggg!!!

David70 | 17 juin 2011

How about a CD of a train whistle?

msiano17 | 17 juin 2011

It is actually laughable that this is still a frequent topic of debate. Tesla stated a while back it was a mock up grill for the testing alphas. It will be changed for the beta/production models.

I mean really, why does the style of the grill matter when it is going to get crashed into a wall for testing?

Hold your complaints off til the Beta is released....

David M. | 19 juin 2011

Yeah, it does look better to me because they kept the logo in the grill, and reduced the amount of plastic. BUT my eyes are blinded by that big piece of shiny chrome around the perimeter of the grille. It just looks like a kid with shiny new braces, especially on dark color cars. I hope they don't keep the chrome. When I see chrome like that, I immediately think Buick.

TEG | 7 août 2011

Volker.Berlin wrote:
" In this video at 1:29 and 1:38 there is a Model S exhibited (with yet another grille) that I was not aware of. Does anybody know where/when this exhibition was and where the car that was on display there is now? "

That was one of the original hand-made body concepts that was shown at the "design studio" within Space-X when the Model S was first introduced. It was basically a pre-cursor to the white (no drive-train) and lighter gray (drivable) concepts. It might be made out of clay. I think that screen grille was just something they "slapped on there" before they got a "real grille" put together.

gizmotech | 19 août 2011

I was told at the Detroit Auto Show that the grill was needed for cooling. Electric motors get hot and the TE air conditioner needs cooling. Hence the need for a grill. I think it looks like a ripoff of a Maserati.