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Franz Speaks!

Finally an article with commentary from the Great Oz of Tesla! Very interesting Q&A. I'm definitely intrigued!

OK, thanks. But can you include a link please?

OK, just noticed it on the Blog page. Sorry!

Thanks again!

Looks like there will not be tow bar even as option which is just stupid, and doors apparently are not able to clear curbs in the parking lots based on the way that question was avoided. Charging port will not be in the most convenient place even for home users (even that Franz says it is), because everyone I know parks their cars in the garage driving in it front first, not backing their cars in the garage. Same applies to parking lots with "block heater" -type charging port. It will be in the front of the car, which would make cable a really long one unless you back up to the parking place, which is way less convenient than to back out of the parking place.

Very few questions were answered, I'm disappointed. Front license plate position in front for example, which is required by law is not answered. No answer to AC power output plug existence. Just some very generic marketing talk.

I don't think this will be very successful car based on those answers. Some early birds that want performance EV and have extra money will buy this, but that's it. It still is not the car for general public even with lower price tag. Maybe that SUV sells a bit more, at least in US, but that isn't the car for me either. If that is enough for Tesla then fine, maybe they are still deliberately focusing on relatively small market.

@ Timo
You are just a whining geek here. Of course it will be successful, only not for those 1% who thought this is a tinkerer's car who would like to get it for free (or close to). It is a ready to drive elegant beast. No trailers, range extenders, boat trailers etc. They only want to capture 1-3% of the high end market. If you are not in the high end market, forget about it and stop whining.

Believe me, since March 2010 I have seen 1000x you complains about the iPad's "silliness", not having USB or that gizmo or that trick, too expensive, useless ... it will die a painful death etc. etc. - it is simply killing the PC market.

OK, thanks. But can you include a link please?

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-designing-perfect-endurance-athlete

Just some very generic marketing talk.

Agreed. But at least, it is an update and it does contain some welcome news wrt design details (fenders, frameless doors, panoramic roof).

... doors apparently are not able to clear curbs in the parking lots based on the way that question was avoided.

That's exactly how I read it as well.

... everyone I know parks their cars in the garage driving in it front first ...

So then, for a change, let me just mention that I have to back up into my parking lot. It's an underground garage and there is no other way to get into that space... So at least for me, I am happy with the announced charge port location. :-)

As planned, [the door handles] will only present themselves when passengers approach the car. [...] The windows will have "short drop" [...] functionality, which is common on premium vehicles with frameless doors. (from the Blog post)

Would be great if they could count one and one together and make the windows short-drop at the same time when the door handles extend -- instead of when the door handles are pulled, which is common on premium vehicles with frameless doors.

It is always a distraction and an uneasy feeling when the window moves when you pull the handle, for two reasons: First, many people do not expect the window to move when they pull the handle. Second, the window does not move immediately, like it would when it were mechanically connected with the door handles. The window moves electrically, and there is a small delay, which adds to the distraction. The uneasy feeling comes from the fact that you pull the door open just before the window has actually moved. So even though in fact the movement of the window is only required to properly close the door, it feels like you pull the door open a moment too early (window is still up) and some people are afraid that this might damage the door or the window.

Simply by extending the door handles and short-dropping the window simultaneously, all these issues could be avoided and entering the Model S would feel even more convenient and welcoming than on any other premium vehicle with frameless doors.

For the record, here is the original thread with all the questions posted. You can find some questions that have been answered in the blog post, and many others that haven't. There are also some interesting discussions in that (very long) thread:
http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/upcoming-qa-chief-designer-franz...

@Nicu, your comment is probably aimed to someone else, since I have not talked about iPad at all. Maybe I have said that it isn't useful for cars, or that Tesla doesn't want to be tied up to any single manufacturer for its touchscreen, but that's all.

You are imagining things, so go whine about my "whining" to someplace else.

(For the record, I can afford Model S, it just isn't useful for me).

Timo, honestly, I think it's you who should take a break and watch Amélie before going on posting... ;-) You seem to be in a bad mood today. I wouldn't care to comment, but I am afraid, Nicu will respond in a similar way and it will go on and on... He was comparing you, a geek complaining about details regarding the Model S, to all those geeks that were complaining about details regarding the iPad, before it turned out to become a huge success. His sentence is a little broken, probably a typo or something, but I don't think he intended to suggest that you personally were whining about the iPad.

Let's be good sports. There are some details (extremely low ground clearance, no charge port in front) that make you believe that the Model S is going to be a niche player. Nicu on the other hand thinks that these details are irrelevant in the greater scheme of things, or that they may even contribute to the Model S' success (because they allow for other advantages like cleaner styling and improved efficiency at high speeds).

Time will tell, no doubt. There is no use fighting over it now. In any case the Model S does already spark development in the entire industry, and if the Model S as such is not for you, another EV will come out relatively soon that will fit your requirements. Maybe another Tesla model, maybe a Renault or BMW or Toyota, who knows.

My main reason to "complaint" about these issues is because I think they have deviated from their original plan: this was supposed to be sporty high-end family car, instead it is high end sport car which happens to have enough space to be used as family car. See the difference? They switched the priorities at some point.

About an inch or two higher ground clearance couldn't hurt that much. Model S frame center of gravity is already low enough that it is unprecedented, so even higher than usual ground clearance would still give it great cornering performance if the suspension matches rest of the car. There are high-end sporty cars with high(is) ground clearance that are very good to drive twisty roads.

A tow bar (as option) wouldn't hurt either. Just for that "boat trailer" Nicu mentions, in case you like to go mariner for a while. High-end specimens of those things cost a lot more than Model S, so odds are that there are people with those that could be target people for the Model S but who wont buy it just because of lack of towing capability.

@Volker EU#P1 ,Timo

Yes, this is pretty much what I would respond. You have formulated more clearly than I would have done it. And yes, instead of "1000x you" I meant "1000x your", which is still not 100% English but I do not aspire to be a perfect English writer either.

Timo, take your coffee and a deep breath and we can be "friends".

I am investing actively (mostly options now) in AAPL and TSLA and it's funny to find more similarities as time passes. As one fellow trader said, Tesla is becoming the Apple of the car industry. There will be tons of mouth foaming noisy comments on the net, all that while the company / product will revolutionize the market. Few products / options, very smart design, marketing and services. I would dare to say Tesla is even more innovative than Apple and they have a technological advance as large as Apple has compared to competitors (battery pack / PEM / motor which are years ahead in terms of cost, performance, safety and durability - Apple has the operating systems which are a bit forgotten but are finally the main reasons for them selling products by the boatload).

About an inch or two higher ground clearance couldn't hurt that much. Model S frame center of gravity is already low enough [...] (Timo)

If I understand correctly, this is not so much about low center of gravity which is definitely not the primary problem in the Model S due to the battery layout. I think low ground clearance has more to do with Cd value, and everything Cd-related has a major effect on range at highway speeds.

I don't think that would affect very much, because Model S bottom is very smooth, unlike ICE cars. If you look at the Aptera, is does have considerable ground clearance while still having incredible low Cd. It is just matter of how airflow is directed to the bottom of the car. Of course this is just speculation, I'm sure they have run more than one wind tunnel test for it (I think major change to Cd from higher ground clearance would come from more wheels getting exposed with more "upright" part of the wheel as well.)

Anyway, I'm still Tesla follower, I'll just wait for them to make car that fits my needs. Nobody else is making EV:s that come even close to anything Tesla is making. With all those "drawbacks" I complain about they are still the best there is.

Wishlist: 4WD WRC-car -like agile hatchback with enough ground clearance that it doesn't get scared with small deviation from tarmac. That would be car for me. (There is enough power available in Model S to make absolutely crazy rally car with double-engine approach).

@Timo

You are waiting for the 4WD Model X without knowing.

I agree with the comment that this is just some generic marketing talk, pretty much a big tease to everyone that is looking forward to more information. I'm not in the market for this car as I'm still in college, but I think this brought up more concerns than good info for me. I agree with Timo on the trailer hitch. I don't think anybody is planning on towing their 21ft boat with this car, but maybe attaching a small trailer or bicycle rack. I’ve seen people towing things with their BMW 5-series, so saying that it’s a luxury sedan and therefore shouldn’t have a trailer hitch isn’t really accurate.

The charge port might be a little inconvenient in the back of the car for some people, but I think that will offset by the amount of people that it’s more convenient for, and people that just don’t care. If you’re really considering buying this car, I think you’ll probably suck it up with the long cord.

Also, I think that the door handles are really cool, but it seems like it might just be an extra complexity that could just cause more things to go wrong. I'm not sure what they're doing to make the handles extend out, but what happens if you live in a cold environment and the handle gets iced up? Is there going to be enough torque in the motor or whatever they're using to break through the ice? Also, what happens when that system just breaks down with age? The window in my current car just stopped working recently, which is pretty inconvenient, but not nearly as bad as not being able to open the door. Any complexity that you add also adds another opportunity for failure. While I think this handle is neat, and I understand that it reduces the drag a little bit, I think it could also be something that comes back to bite them if it has problems.

That being said, I think this an awesome car, and I can't wait to see some on the road. I think that despite this minor nit picking I’ve done this will be a really successful car in the market that Tesla is targeting. Hopefully the prices will come down on their future cars when the technology becomes more widely available, and I'll be able to get a Tesla a few years after I graduate.

We've been over ground clearance before. Nothing has changed. The proposed ground clearance is exactly in line with all the cars (BMW/Lexus/etc) they've said the Model S is supposed to compete with. If the ground clearance of the competition is ok, the Model S is ok. If the ground clearance of the competition is a problem for you, then it'll be a problem in the Model S.

The evasive answer on ground clearance leaves a slightly bad taste, but the reality is nothing has changed.

@DC, why not tow a 21+ft boat with that car? It has more than enough torque and weight to do that. H*ll it has enough torque and weight to tow a small truck (but not necessary the rigidity of the structure, which might be the reason why it is not offered).

It doesn't need to be big boat to be more expensive than Model S. Those things cost a lot. Something relatively small like 26 ft Four Winns V265 costs nearly twice the Model S (or depending of the options you have more).

ckessel - thanks for reiterating the ground clearance bit. I was unfortunately drenched in all the marketing speak, too. I think I speak for the majority, we'd prefer more substance. Of course, the real substance (beta) will be the proof in the pudding...now I've got to wraggle with the wife about switching parking spaces so she doesn't crimp my cord.

People need to appreciate this car, the first luxury class EV car, for what it is, and not what they demand it to be. If you want more clearance, a tow rack (?), and more 'family-friendly' options, please wait until 2013, when the Model X is released. It will be right up your alley. In fact, it will be right up mine as well, right next to my Model S. But until then, I am excited as hell to get my incredibly sporty, high performance Model S. Don't forget, Tesla has often claimed to be planning a 4WD Model S as well. Maybe that will satisfy the more rugged Tesla fans out there. Personally, I cringe when I see a BMW or Mercedes with a bike/surfboard rack on top, or bikes and other cargo on the 'tow rack'. And I've never seen one of the those cars towing a boat (ridiculous). So why in the world would we expect the Model S to have these features? It was never billed to challenge the SUV market.

I said this on the actual blog post thread, but in case anyone didn't read those comments, I'll repeat here.

IMHO, if you are willing to make the paradigm shift to an EV, then obviously you aren't afraid to make changes to the way you drive (e.g. plugging in every night, renting an ICE for the occasional long drive, etc.). So then, is it such a huge leap to add "back into parking spaces" to that list?

There is a good bit of evidence out there that suggests that, actually, we should all be backing into our parking spaces --- EV or not. Statistically speaking, you are much less likely to get into a parking lot accident if you back into the space. In fact, I read once that UPS trains all of their drivers to always back in when parking (and plan their routes to only make right turns) to minimize accidents.

People on these forums are incredibly defensive of the Model S's nose/grill. If the port were put on the front of the car, it would really make things ugly (looking at you Nissan Leaf). I'm sure that every possible location was considered and the best solution won out. I'm not going to tell them they are wrong without knowing the details of why the other solutions were thrown out.

Certainly, backing into parking spaces shouldn't be much of an issue. Now I only do so when packing the trunk, but it wouldn't a bad thing to do in general. For one thing, it's easier to see oncoming traffic when pulling out of the driveway.

Also, I think that the door handles are really cool, but it seems like it might just be an extra complexity that could just cause more things to go wrong. (DC)

Agreed.

I'm not sure what they're doing to make the handles extend out, but what happens if you live in a cold environment and the handle gets iced up? (DC)

Quoting from this thread:
http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/those-door-handles

I spoke with a Tesla rep at the Chicago location and this is especially a concern for our area. The door handles will have a small heating element to them so that they will not become frozen over. (msiano17)

I like the "pre-heated from a phone interface" method the best. Seems completely feasible, reasonable with a 3G connectivity. Remote engine start is not a foreign or new concept.

As for the "alternative warming method" referenced in the thread, if its truly that cold, I'd be worried about exposing that dispenser to the harsh elements in the first place. And it may not be physically possible for those of the fairer sex.

You'd be surprised what a woman can do ;-)

I agree that phone interface for remote controlling the car is perfect. You call to car to tell that you are off the work in half a hour, it should start warming things up so that I can drive in my t-shirt in -30C degree winter and show those antique car owners what a modern car is all about :-)

I hope they have good insulation, because it is what makes A/C systems effective. You heat/cool things once, then it keeps the temperature without much energy usage. I recently found out that you can build zero-energy homes even here in Finland, with temperature difference between summer and winter more than 60 degree celcius. What they do is build a house like a bottle. Nothing gets in or out unless you want it to do so. Insulation is everything in that. You can do the same in car (with a bit less effective, but still).

The major reason for not putting a trailer hitch on the Model S is ther fact that it will kill the range.

Think about it, for each extra piece of weight the car has to carry/pull, it's range decreases. I'm sure you COULD hook a trailer to it if you were REALLY keen to do so, and then you'd find your range drops to 20 miles from all the extra weight you're carrying.

Until the battery technology improves to a point where hauling a trailer is feasable for an electric, there's just no point in adding it to the cars.

Bollocks. I often tow a heavy trailer with my VW Touran 2.0TDI. For a 1.5 ton trailer (the legal max for the Touran, approx. 3300lbs) fuel consumption will increase about 30-40%. So a 300-mile pack with a real world 240-mile range would then yield maybe 175 miles. Still way more than other EVs.

And when I do tow a heavy trailer, I usually don't have to go further than 5 miles anyway.

Weight is not the big range killer, air resistance is. The trailer increases air restistance of course, and the fuel consumtoion penalty is still 20-30% when the trailer is empty. FOr an EV with regen the weight would impact range even less.

@Timo

why not tow a 21+ft boat with that car?

I wasn't saying that the car isn't capable of towing something of that weight. I'm just saying that it wouldn't be praticle if you actually wanted to make it to wherever you're towing the boat. That would drastically reduce the range.

I am curious if the ground clearance is so low because the motor is in axle. If the road to axle/motor clearance is 4.5 inches then it's not that big of a deal. If the bottom center of the car is that low then I'll just skip this whole EV hype and buy an ICE.

There will most likely never be any way to just purchase an electric car for many years. All manufactuers are going to have a waiting list and I can not be putting money down on several cars and hoping one will suit my needs... Well I can but I not going to loss that much investable money.

The BMW 5 series has a normal ground clearance of 5.6 inches.
http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2011-bmw-5-series-13.htm

Top Gear is going to have a field day with this one... :-)

I don't care where the charging port is. I will just have a retrackable cord installed coming down from the ceiling.

Re: towing boats.

Towing boats whenever they are used is also a US thing. I tow our 17.5" boat twice a year. Once in spring to put in in the marina, and once in autumn to pick it up. It's only 5 miles each way. Renting a car just to do this would be a big hassle.

Most everyone else over here does the same thing, nearly no-one keeps their boat on a trailer in summer. It's kept in the water, with bottom paint on if it's in salt water.

Many cars do not have a tow option. None of my Audi's ever have.


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