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Lack of backseat headroom will be a market problem throughout Europe

The model S backseat's headroom is too low for Europeans. My wife is 5'10" and her head when she sits behind the driver or passenger seat hits the side roof and top back beam. I am 6'2" and I can not sit comfortably in the backseat. I must hunch my upper back so that my lower back is in a terrible unsupported position and my knees are more in my face then normal.

We are now on vacation in France (live in Norway) and everyone uses and has adults in their backseats. The backseat is used by adults, not just for kids. The attitude that "the backseat is where my kids sit" does not apply in European cultures. Adults actually sit back there, all the time.

It is the only negative I see with the Model S in the European market. Specifically, Dutch people are very tall people (most over 6'). The Model S backseat will be a turnoff to the Dutch most of all. Spain, Italy, Portugal, and other southern European countires are not tall people but have adults in the backseat all the time...constatntly. This car is so perfect but must have more headroom in the back.

Will Tesla do something about those large beams on the ceiling in the backseat reclaiming a few inches so that they can be more appealing to the European market?

Personally I alsmost never have adults in the back seat for extended distanced so it's not a problem for us. I don't think adults in the back seat is more prevalent in Norway than in the US? And if it is in the rest of Europe I have no idea why...

However, those that really need to carry tall adults in the back seat for extended distances should consider waiting for the Model X.

In the Model S, the best position for a tall adult in the back is the middle seat.

@tanglero - Did the Model S you sat in have the pano roof or the hard top? The pano has 2 inches more headroom than the hardtop. It's a huge difference.

If the car you sat in did have the pano roof, imagine how cramped you would feel in a hardtop!

@ddruz - It was the pano roof and the Tesla sales person said the samething to us :)

As I look out my window in this beach town in the South of France, the main road to the beach lies beneath my window. Over 90% of the cars have people in the backseat. Many of them are locals pilled in to go to the beach for a day of sun and fun but many are older people who are pleasure cruising through the towns along the coast.

In Europe, more so southern Europe, the culture is to share experiences with friends and go on vacations with each other. It is extremely extended family and community oriented. The value system is based not on self but on what can I share with others.

A backseat that gives my friends and family comfort gives me pleasure. If it gives them discomfort I am deeply hurt. The cultures of Europe are still driven by their love of people, not just self.

Backseats are important because it one modern way people can share their love with those that they love.

My Model S is now the favorite car pool vehicle when driving short distances to events or dinner with friends. The back seat is used by adults and they would like a bit more room. The panoramic roof helps, but Model X will be the answer for ease of entry and comfort. When others don't have to use fuel in their cars, they will put up with a bit of inconvenience. Another reason they like to ride; Slacker radio to hear the music they can request!

Doesn't seem to affect toyota or vw sales and they have the same or less headroom in the back for me.

How about the back seat room in a Porsche, VW, Fiat, or even some cars by Renault or Citroen? Not usually the roomiest, in my experience.

The other comment I hear sometimes is that the Model S is too big for Europe, too wide, etc. If the car were narrower and taller, it would not have the same excellent aerodynamics. I have taken several taller people in the back seat of my S. And while not for more than an hour or so at a time, no one has ever complained. One reason may be that the legroom is actually quite adequate, and the seats are quite comfortable.

To each their own, I guess.

I am 6'6" and often sit in the back seat. Head room is not a problem under the pano roof and as long as someone shorter is driving, leg room is not a problem either. Without the pano roof, no way.

According to this table of average human heights by nation, the Netherlands has the tallest average males of any country. So using them as a benchmark is a little absurd.

While most of the Scandinavian countries are quite tall, elsewhere in Europe, it's different. German men are, on average, only 1 inch taller than US men. Austrians and Finns are the same as the US, while Swiss, French, Spaniards, Brits, and Italians are all slightly shorter.

So while Scandinavians might wish to wait for the Model X, the rest of Europe will likely find the Model S quite acceptable.

A @cfOH, there you go using facts and data again...! ;)


"In Europe, more so southern Europe, the culture is to share experiences with friends and go on vacations with each other. It is extremely extended family and community oriented. The value system is based not on self but on what can I share with others.

A backseat that gives my friends and family comfort gives me pleasure. If it gives them discomfort I am deeply hurt. The cultures of Europe are still driven by their love of people, not just self."

Sounds like you sure love yourself to me.
Perhaps you are not a native english speaker so you have missed the tone of your post, but to an American, it sure seems obvious that you are saying we are only driven by our love of self, not others.

"A backseat that gives my friends and family comfort gives me pleasure. If it gives them discomfort I am deeply hurt. The cultures of Europe are still driven by their love of people, not just self."

So you're saying you like to pleasure your friends with love in the "backseat"?

I just drove 5 adults and 2 children around in the Model S all day for 2 days straight and
never once heard anything other than "omg need one" and
"dad, someone is taking our picture again"

If you are tall and have sat in the back seat of any car you expect to contort yourself to fit into it. To me any lack of head room is offset by the fact that three real people can sit in the back seat at the same time without being horizontally squeezed. But OK, I get it, vertical contortion has a social stigma in Europe that horizontal squeezing does not, and we can probably trace this back to the history of Catholicism and/or Napoleon. Europeans feel pride in their month long summer vacation, and are all in love with each other so they must sit up straight and breathe in the summer air, or at least each other's armpits.

Americans cower in isolation as the Tesla driver demonstrates yet again the remarkable acceleration on the empty highway to Las Vegas, where the group of awkward adults speed in silence toward a weekend of social alienation in front of dehumanizing slot machines.

Tesla is also going to have a problem when it hits Asian markets, but for different reasons.

The driver's seat does not raise high enough for those with a short torso and the seat does not go forward far enough for those with short legs. The sun visor is to small for shorter people too.

Another inch or two of driver's seat range, both horizonally and vertically will make a big difference.

I am 5'8" and my partner is 6'. Neither of us had any issues feeling comfortable in the back seat while checking out the car at the Tesla showroom. However, that's not the same as being in the vehicle for extended periods of time. However, in the short amount of time we sat in it, the headroom was not at all an issue for either of us. The car has the pano roof.

@tanglero - why is this a model S problem? E.g. VW Passat or Audi A6 have less head room in front and back. How do the folks in Europe manage to fit in their own smaller cars?

Are you kidding me! Have you seen the cars Europeans buy? The average vehicle in Europe is far smaller than the average vehicle in the USA. The vast majority of cars sold in Europe are smaller than Model S. But hey, let's not let real market data interfere with the hippie philosophizing on the nature of the Atlantic divide.

@schueppert - EXACTLY. Most of my friends in Europe all have smaller cars.

To the OP- I'd say the easy solution if you're so concerned about your passengers not having enough room is to get another car. LOL.

It is amazing... Tesla comes out with its first model which is a sports sedan - not a sedan. But now you get thread after thread some folks whining that this ONE model doesn't tickle every single box in the world. You want more headroom in the back and an electric car... wait for the model X - simple as that.

My two cents as a European, from the Netherlands so with 6'3" pretty average in height over here:

The last few posters are absolutely right: we drive much smaller cars here, and headroom in the back is always an issue, with almost any car here. And in my experience, it is not generally an issue. When I wondered why, I came up with a few possible answers:

- Our knees are hurting so much from the lack of legroom that we don't even notice our head needing a few more inches to be fully comfortable.
- The only reason an adult would ever get in the back of a car, is a.) because he/she doesn't own a car him/herself, and is about to get a free ride and is not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, or b.) because he/she is too intoxicated to drive - in which case they hardly notice their heads hitting the ceiling anyway. ;-D

And to the OP: I wouldn't make any assumptions on having found _the_ reason why the Tesla Model S will do badly over here. It won't do badly. We will fall in love with the car as fast or faster than our American buddies, and we will buy them as quickly as TM can produce them.

The lack of headroom in the back is a pity for another reason: I think a lot of politicians, CEOs etc. (who are chauffeur driven and sit in the back) would have bought a Model S, especially to show how committed they are to the environment. The could have been great ambassadors for Tesla.

I'd worry more about width at the hips, what with lane width and parking spaces designed for narrower. And in an Italian hill town, you'd want to park it in a lot on the outskirts.

At least one gets an extra 5-6 cm of shoulder-room width in the rear seat. But you might want to suggest saving the rear center for the tallest person: more height and much more leg room, so one can scrunch down.

The stereotypes are getting rather thick in here.

@all of u

I just ordered the S well aware of this "malfunction" because I normally only will have kids in the backseats

I belive TM had to do some compromises beacuse of the worlds best aerodynamics and the largest batteripack ever seen in a sedan. The var is not perfect, but it starts the EVolution ..

The safety issue is why I normally won't invite adult into the backseats.

You prove, once again, that a sense of proportion and a sense of humor go hand in hand.

Am I missing something? Are there a lot of sport sedans that comfortably fit tall people in the back row? Why are people upset that the car is exactly what it claims to be? If you want a big comfortable luxury cruising vehicle, there are plenty to choose from. This is a sports sedan, expect as much.

@pebell great post


This car has absolutely too much headroom in the backseats for very short people. An adjustable roof is needed in order to not alienate people of compact stature, who are extremely important throughout the world and throughout history. Why emphasize our lack of height instead of making the Model S perfect?

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