Ideas for *that* center space

Ideas for *that* center space

We're back to arguing over whether or not a center console is a good idea or required or whatever. Let's try to take all this energy in a positive direction -- describe the perfect center space for your needs. If you like, defend why your design overview is the best.

I've been looking at all the things I won't need to haul around anymore and it turns out my in-car storage desires are pretty minimal: place for wallet (I don't like sitting on it), place for phone/accessory charging, place for change purse, place for drink (like to have something at hand for longer trips). And maybe a place for backpack but I'm fine with it in passenger seat or in trunk or behind driver seat if I have a passenger.

So here's my design:
Appears about 5" across at bottom, could be a little wider at top, I'd prefer something about same height as the seats at the top, so 8" to the top. 8" depth is a very deep compared to other cars.

Towards front, space for misc accessories that plug into the USB ports I presume are under the screen. A cubby tray at top for that stuff, maybe 3" depth. Under it is another 4" of space you can tuck away under it because the next section is full depth for most of the length to the armrest.

That long center section is where I'd have removable trays/options. One example is a removable drink tray that snaps into place -- removable so can easily clean out the crud that tends to accumulate. Another includes change rows for parking meters plus generic cubby trays would be fine too. Or a hybrid that does both. I envision having a tray for everyday use and one for longer trips, since the items needed can change for different trips.

Can have a rolltop with the storage for it in the empty space under the accessory tray for near the armrest. Under these tray things you could put the rarely used items; umbrella, maps, w/e. Or could bypass the tray option and simply put a purse or w/e there. I carry a backpack routinely so maybe I'd squeeze it into that large middle space rather than put on the passenger side seat like I do now.

As you can tell, I'd like accessory trays for things I'd plug into USB. This is something I'd make an item for, and it would likely be functional but not beautiful, if the car doesn't come with or quickly get a console.

What do you all think should be there, if anything? If you'd rather have nothing there, why do you think that's the optimal solution? If you'd like something there, please describe it (drawings not required) and how it would be an improvement over the relatively empty space.

Jason S | 18 marzo 2012

TLDR version: if you could design your perfect center console, what would it look like/how would it work?

phb | 18 marzo 2012

I like the thread idea; very constructive. I'd love it if they could make the existing armrest area slightly longer so the upholders are always exposed, then make the armrest pads fold open to reveal a storage area underneath. Leave me some of that open area though please.

cablechewer | 18 marzo 2012

Your description is interesting. I had an allergy sufferer for a passenger last friday. Have you got a place for a tissue box and a garbage in there?

I like the thread, but I don't know how big the space is. Without that piece of information it is difficult to design something. However I do really like your idea of having different snap-in modules. If I have to go to Tim's to fetch my co-workers hot beverages it would be nice if I had an attachment/blank the tray could just fit in.

Andrew18 | 18 marzo 2012

Maybe one of us who is a carpenter/designer type can make something we can slip in there? We could put in an order for one if we wanted! I'm thinking of designing and making one that would go well with the banana leaf motif.

BYT | 18 marzo 2012

I have a MakerBot coming in the main in the next 2 weeks, I can design something, would need some time with a production model center open space console.

BYT | 18 marzo 2012

Main = mail, we really need an edit feature TM Forum Web Designers... :(

kevjo | 18 marzo 2012

I just got back from the Santana Row event, four "esses" that were said to have just come off the production line.

I agree with PHB that the armrests in their current configuration (fixed, slide cushion to the rear to reveal small cup holder) are not well designed and could take advantage of the boxy space underneath them.

It does seem odd that TM decided to leave this space open. It is a large space, I would guess approx. 6" wide, 18" long and about 6-8" deep.

I also agree with Jason S that functional cup/drink holders, sunglasses, change, phone/ipod spaces would be a big improvement. Maybe this is an area that an aftermarket supplier steps in to fill?

Soflauthor | 18 marzo 2012

I drew up a concept sketch of what I’m going to have fabricated if TM does not provide us with a hard date for their own CC accessory. Obviously, I don’t yet have dimensions or exact angles, but my intent is to fabricate an insertable center console (CC) that can be fastened to the plastic base of the existing floor tray.


The CC will be about 8 – 9 inches at its highest point. It will be bounded by two leather “rails” that are curved to flow from under the dash display downward toward the floor and then back up toward the rear existing cup holder arm rest. The rails are intended to bound the top surfaces of the CC so that a driver could place a purse or other large object on it without worrying about it moving laterally.

The CC surface will be trimmed in matching accents and will have a step down surface, creating two levels. The higher (back level) will house a “deep” storage area (about 5 – 6 inches deep) with a hinged cover trimmed in matching leather. The lower level will accommodate a modular insert that would allow:

1) cup holders that could be inserted when needed, or permanently, but are removable, or
2) an insertable smaller storage area to hold sunglasses, phone, etc, (shown) about 3 in. deep, or
3) other modules, TBD

All modules would be trimmed in appropriate colors or accents. Where storage covers are implemented, they will be push-down release mechanisms and glide smoothly up to full open position.

The outside surfaces of the CC would be trimmed with matching carpet (lower) and leather (higher area), that would flow along the same lines as the “rails.”

The CC accessory will be configured so that it can be inserted without removing anything except (possibly) the back armrest.

I’ve only spent 1.5 hours on this, so it’s still very preliminary and subject to change, but for me, it’s a workable implementation of an accessory CC. Obviously, fabrication constraints may require modifications and actual measurements must wait until I have the car or Tesla provides an engineering drawing of the interior.

Finally, I’m fully aware that this design is derivative, but I make no apologies for it. Some of us believe that a CC provides both aesthetic and functional benefits that far outweigh the "elegance" of “negative space.”

Soflauthor | 18 marzo 2012

Not sure what went wrong, but the jpg image did not appear. Having no edit function is really a pain. I'll try again:

Soflauthor | 18 marzo 2012

Apologies for the scaling issue, but I can't delete the post, so ...

Jason S | 18 marzo 2012

That's pretty cool. Where I pictured a large blocky kind of thing with 2 or 3 sections you've created a swoopy higher shelf with covers so can put stuff on top temporarily (phones, etc) while storing other goodies in compartments.

Andrew18 | 18 marzo 2012

I would make the flip up cover a padded armrest

TikiMan | 18 marzo 2012

I agree with Andrew... an armrest would be a huge plus when it comes to all the touch-screen toggling.

Soflauthor | 18 marzo 2012

@Andrew18: Great idea! The back cover could be padded, leveled so that it aligns vertically with the top of the rail curve or just slightly below it for aesthetics, and then serve as a storage cover and an arm rest. Thx!

Jason S | 18 marzo 2012

If the USB connections could be threaded through the front storage, that would give me a space for phone recharging/storage. I'd prolly make that section shorter than what you've got shown, but yours works fine too.

Charged_Up | 18 marzo 2012

you might want to swap the location of the two bins, but its a neat idea. Surely even this drawing shows that something "Tesla-ish" is doable in this area as a factory piece...

Jason S | 18 marzo 2012

lol, it also shows that no matter how cool the original idea we'll still find ways it isn't exactly what each of us wants.

brianman | 19 marzo 2012

@JasonS - "no matter how cool the original idea we'll still find ways it isn't exactly what each of us wants"

That's a bit of a negative conclusion.

Something more like "no matter how cool the original idea we'll still find ways to improve it."

Your version sounds like people are rejecting a proposal, but I don't interpret it that way.

Soflauthor | 19 marzo 2012

JasonS wrote: "lol, it also shows that no matter how cool the original idea we'll still find ways it isn't exactly what each of us wants."

But that's the whole idea of design. By it's nature, it's iterative and evolutionary. Look, in less than 24 hours we've got a preliminary concept and a few good suggestions. If this were for real, we would continue to iterate and then solidify the concept, move on to engineering drawings, and then, after analysis of fabrication requirements, fab drawings. We'd then do a bit of value engineering and commit to a fabrication vendor. Bottom line, for an excellent engineering design shop (and I think Tesla has one) the entire process of conceptualizing, designing and executing a simple console accessory could occur in weeks, not months.

And for those who will argue that Tesla has their plate very full (all true), I think it's fair to note that it isn't so full that the TM design team didn't have time to develop a complete design for the Model X over the last year or so. Given the overwhelming desire (check out unscientific but revealing polls here and at TMC) among list holders for a better interior and CC, you'd think "down the road" would be before the delivery of vehicle #1. In fact, if I were heading TM design, I'd have a prototype design for a CC acccessory developed by the end of the week.

mklcolvin | 19 marzo 2012

Why not turn the negative into a positive? Let the designers create several consoles that drop into the open space, and let customers purchase the one that they like as an option? You could have swoopy, futuristic consoles, or retro, angular consoles, etc. Keep the pricing low and this could be a winner!

ddruz | 19 marzo 2012

@Solflauthor, I personally like your concept very much. Thank you for taking the time to prepare and post it.

@mklcolvin, What a great idea to have multiple choices, people buying the kinds of consoles they prefer. If not feasible by July it does seem like a potential money maker should Tesla decide to run with it at some point.

An observation: Most of us wanting console storage seem so desperate for it we are willing to pay for it. Fancy, cool or extra storage makes sense as an extra-cost upgrade. But should basic storage comparable with even inexpensive cars, whatever Tesla's eventual solution, be a for-cost upgrade?

Brian H | 19 marzo 2012

Even if TM comes out with their own, others would probably be competitive. So, one way or another, you'll be able to console yourself.

Jason S | 19 marzo 2012

Sorry, was shooting for 'wry humor' and hit a sore spot. Brian H's pun was pretty good tho. =)

Sometimes it seems like 'design by committee' gets really awkward results, but so far we're looking pretty good on these forums. Probably a large case of self-selection for the type of people that frequent these forums -- tend to be very smart people imho.

Another tweak: that front cover could flip up and lock for those that like a wrist rest for the screen. Bonus points if can rotate the long cover to be just as wide as a wrist rest while still able to provide good support. A pop-up and rotate "cover" would impact the rest of the space so maybe that would be one design while another could just make the wrist rest part of the console with a larger space in middle for swappable components.

Jason S | 20 marzo 2012

Had a couple other thoughts on center space, these tack items onto the existing dash and armrest while leaving the majority of the center open:

1) expand the section under the armrest to include a flip-out cubby that could be used as an ashtray if one is so inclined, since that's where the 12v plug is anyhow. It could also be used to hold MP3 player or phone or other devices that you don't want sloshing around in the bottom section but do want close to hand. I realize ashtray design is different from cubby so I'd make the ashtray thing an optional widget for the cubby.

2) expand the section under the screen to include a wrist rest and a cubby. Maybe modular tray compatible with the armrest if both are provided.

3) nets. The cheesiest option imho, but could rig up some bungee netting pockets/hammocks while waiting for the Tesla solution. Just need someplace to tie/wedge the bungees.

Don't make me get the nets! >:-)

Brian H | 20 marzo 2012

you forgot the custom woven basket option!

Jason S | 20 marzo 2012

Woven underwater by trained professional!

Jason S | 22 marzo 2012

After looking through the options in I'm still thinking some sort of storage is a good idea. Maybe because I sat in the car in Oct/Nov and have a pretty good idea what I feel is missing.

So bumping this and seeing if any other ideas.

ddruz | 22 marzo 2012

@Jason S, Since you asked for any other storage ideas: pockets on the back of the front seats. (My apology if this idea has been floated before and I've missed it.) You can reach the passenger seat pocket from the driver's seat easily. I have had such pockets on my previous two cars and they are great.

Since we know we aren't getting any storage in the doors or within the armrest/cup holder module maybe this is still an option. I wrote my Tesla rep about it a few days ago and he said he'd pass it on. Adding pockets to the back of the front seats would not affect any crash test results or disturb the armrest/cup holder module which they seem adamant about keeping as is.

If you do not with to use such pockets they remain flush with the back of the seat and do not detract from the lines of the interior. Of course you can over pack them and they look bulgy but used discriminatively they are very convenient for a few concealed odds and ends which at this point we have no place to store without reaching to the glove box. No doubt a console storage option will become available at some point but it will cost money.

I wonder how many others have had such pockets in their cars and what they think about them?

EdG | 22 marzo 2012

Assuming, for whatever reason, I don't get a center console, I might go with a leather satchel that plops down under the touchscreen. Then anything I need to have with me for a particular trip just lifts out. I don't need much permanently in the car.

Jason S | 24 marzo 2012

@ddruz -- I just assumed there would be seat pockets of some sort. Haven't seen a car without them since 1990 (not like I see a lot of cars though). I only ever use them for one thing (lab slip, I just have one in queue after Dr visits since I'm a diabetic) but it would be a bit odd not to have seat pockets anymore.

I suppose I'd just put that in the glove box otherwise.

I'm still looking at how to put my own storage in there. Something simply like a black desk caddy with velcro tape on bottom would prolly be fine till I can make something better/nicer.

WolfenHawke | 24 marzo 2012

Just got back from Santana Row. Only 1 S was there, but that's ok, i got to see the center area, cup holders and check out the green color -- my goals.

I was starting to have second thoughts if they were ready from reading all the belly aching going on in the forum. But I am back in love with the car. Can't wait.

The space in the center is good for my sunglasses and phone. Yes, and a kleenex box. I've heard that some like it too as it will hold a purse without worry of it thrashing around.

The cup holder will hold my coffee. I don't drive while resting my arms -- I use my arms. So those are good also.

Common. If you want 15 cup holders, space for kleenex, 10 candy bars, a flash light, batteries, some food bars, your Haynes manuals, couple of old banana peels, pictures you tried to forget (, keys to the cottage, oh, and 3 bottles of water -- get an Escalade (BTW, I like GM). If you really must carry stuff around that you will forget about in 3 weeks, put a bin in the frunk or back. This car is about changing our behaviors to what is really important.

I think tt is VERY close. I will still get it now. You could wait 3 years and get the 99% right version. I got the first iPhone the second day it was on sale. I don't use iPhone anymore, but the iPhone4 is better than the first one. You make up your mind how ready you are.

ddruz | 24 marzo 2012

Jason S, I'm personally no longer tanking anything for granted about closed storage on Model S. Looking at the photos that have been posted of the betas I didn't see any back-of-front-seat pockets so I brought it up when you asked for other ideas. I sincerely hope I missed them in the photos and they were there or at least will be by July.

WolfenHawke | 25 marzo 2012

If you have real leather, there is something really ugly about back of seat pouches that have been stretched because people put laptops, newspapers, and their favorite hardcover in there. Airlines don't allow you to put your laptop in the seat for this reason. Now, they want you to put everything away for takeoff. Sounds good to me. This is the captain speaking. Your Tesla is about to take off, please leave you unessentials at home and buckle up for the ride of now.

Soflauthor | 26 marzo 2012

Now that the design studio is up and the interior design is finalized, I thought I'd tweak my concept design for the Center Console Accessory (CCA).

At this point, I'm reasonably optimistic that TM will have a CCA designed and ready relatively close to delivery of the first Sig or within a few months thereafter. But if the CCA is late, I'll have this concept fabricated at a local custom shop. My only worry is color matching for leather and accents.

My CCA concept has two compartments -- one for sunglasses and other small objects on the tilted portion under the display, and a larger "storage box," with a cover that can store other items as required. For those who'd like better placement of the cup holder, the storage box will allow a cupholder attachment that can be used for that purpose. The curved leather-covered barriers bound the top of the CCA and provide a holding space for a purse or other large object.

Here's a drawing (apologies for the rtough drawing and the grid overlay, but I don't have time today to clean it up):

ddruz | 26 marzo 2012

Soflauthor, That is fantastic! I hope whatever Tesla comes up with is as well thought out and functional. Perhaps they will borrow from your ideas. Thank you for your efforts.

Volker.Berlin | 26 marzo 2012

Don't forget the USB connectors *inside* the storage box! :-)

Soflauthor | 26 marzo 2012

I guess my point in doing this is to demonstrate that an CC "accessory" with no heavy wiring requirement, gear shift build-through, or other real internal complexities should not be that hard to design and fabricate.

@ddruz: thx, but hardly fantastic. It will, however, serve my purposes if I'm forced to have it fabricated and installed on my own. I hope that won't be necessary.

@V.B.: shouldn't be too hard to extend the USBs from the bottom of the display area, where I assume they'll be, into the storage box (where they should be :)

Robert.Boston | 26 marzo 2012

Sign me up for your new design, soflauthor! This looks great and adds the modest amount of storage I'd like.

DrJ | 26 marzo 2012

Wow Soflauthor, that's excellent! Hats off, hope Tesla is monitoring this blog entry! Question for all - who do you go to to fabricate something like that? A woodworker/cabinet maker?

h8young | 27 marzo 2012

Great job, Soflauthor! Now I wonder how hard it'll be to get the materials for some of the accent pieces for the center console to match the dash, i.e. banana leaf, lacewood. CF and piano black should be fairly easy I would think.

Teoatawki | 27 marzo 2012

Lacewood could be tricky. It is actually quite beautiful with a natural (clear) finish. It also has a wide variation, much more than a lot of woods. For reasons unknown, they've apparently used some very dark stain on it. I suspect it will be a b*tch to find a good match in grain pattern and color match the stain, especially since the various grain patterns take up stain differently.

I'm hoping we'll be able to get stock or offcuts from Tesla for a reasonable price. Dumpster diving, anyone?

Soflauthor | 27 marzo 2012

Thx all for the kind comments.

As I mentioned, I'm cautiously optimistic that TM will have a CCA design to show us before deliveries begin in July and a hard date for the availability of the design. Obviously, that would make any need to fabricate my design unnecessary (assuming TM has listened to our comments here and at TMC).

If I hear nothing from TM before delivery, I'm going to ask my rep whether I can get my hands on 3 - 4 SF of lacewood veneer (that's the accent I've chosen subject to personal inspection) at whatever cost. If that's not possible (it should be!), I'll improvise. Matching leather color should be much easier, but still not a gimme.

@Dr. J: I think the best place to have the fabrication done is at a competent custom shop in your area. There are a number I can choose from because I live in range of a major metro area (Miami). I'm guessing cost will be in the $750 to $1,500 price range, but that's not based on a quote, and I may be off considerably (I hope not).

foto | 27 marzo 2012

Soflauthor, this is highly impressive. I'm sure that a lot of Tesla owners would want something like this should TM not be ready with it by summer deliveries. Do you think you can start gearing up to get this produced as a third party accessory? I'm sure a mass produced rate would bring the cost down.
Count me in as your first customer.

prash.saka | 27 marzo 2012

@Soflauthor, well done. +1. Yea, I too am very interested in one these accessories. My reservation is P 6406, which means I have a long wait.

~ Prash.

Soflauthor | 27 marzo 2012

@bfadewole: I suppose I could pitch it to a fabricator, but here's the thing:

1) We should wait a bit to see what TM has to offer. I think they will come up with a CCA of their own. If they listened to all of our collective comments about the CCA, it will certainly be better than my design concept. After all, it's what they do for a living.
2) We can't really gear up for fab until we have exact dimensions, curves, angles, locations of USB ports, etc. That will require a car (as I'm pretty certain TM wouldn't share design drawings at this point).

If anyone has solid contacts with a fabricator who has production capacity and who might have interest, let me know and we'll take this conversation private for further discussion.

But first, patience. Let's hope TM provides the solution we need before the first car is delivered.

jkirkebo | 27 marzo 2012

Nice concept, I would however prefer a mini fridge to the storage box. Cold water at any time would be awesome, it should have space for 4 0.5l bottles or so.

BYT | 27 marzo 2012

It takes a liter of water just to wet my pallet. I will definitely have water rolling around in my open console area... :) I like the open area by the way, I just need to hide some stuff closer to me, not much. 5 inch wide by 4 inch deep by 7 inch high area that isn't the glove compartment would suffice me nicely for all my stuff that I would need tucked away.

Volker.Berlin | 27 marzo 2012

I like the open area by the way, I just need to hide some stuff closer to me, not much. 5 inch wide by 4 inch deep by 7 inch high area that isn't the glove compartment would suffice me nicely for all my stuff that I would need tucked away. (BYT)

+1, I'm getting used to it, mentally. :-) The open storage does have its advantages, particularly when the passenger seat is occupied.

ddruz | 28 marzo 2012

+1 BYT, I too like the open area but accompanied by, as standard equipment, a modicum of closed storage nearer than the glove box. I also favor a more extensive console along the lines of Soflauthor's fabulous diagrams as an optional accessory.

Charged_Up | 28 marzo 2012

The lacewood is almost certainly dyed with an aniline dye - not that hard to match if you ave a sample.