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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?

Whether you have a panoramic or not, the problem isn't when you keep your head straight up but when you lean back. I don't know about you all, but when I take long drives, I often rest my head by putting it back against the seat cushion. Well, on the Model S, you can't do that. I'm 5'8" and my head is pushed uncomfortably forward. Simple fact is, for a "luxury" sedan, the back seat is not very good. I agree with our European friends that the Model S is going to lose sales because of this. I hope they make it up with sales of the Model X, but if not, they might consider making an S2 or whatever with a modified backseat and more headroom. I personally like the silhouette of the Model S and wouldn't change it, but it might make sense to make a slightly modified version for the European market.

@HenryT2 - again it is a sports sedan, not a sedan. In a sports sedan the gentleman sits in the front at the wheel, in a sedan the gentleman sits in back and has a driver.
To make it a classic sedan like the Mercedes S class you would need a bigger battery to compensate for the increase in drag. I don't like hatchbacks, I hate SUVs, colors are too boring for me... but what the heck will I live long enough to get all my likes in any car?
The back seats are the very last thing on earth that will decide the success in Europe. Car exporting counties like Germany and France will not give any incentives to imports, instead protect their own car industry. With 31% of import duty and VAT the MS is extremly expensive. Top speed is king on the Autobahn and the MS doesn't shine in top speed. Acceleration is not important - traffic lights are syncronized and you don't have to stop driving the speed limit. It is a very big car for the narrow roads in Europe. Countries with incentives are your main target. Gen3 is much better suited for Europe.

The M5 is most definitely a sport sedan. And, would you consider the entire BMW 5 series ordinary sedans? Because they all have better back seats. I don't think the back seat headroom is what qualifies the MS or the 5 series as a sports sedan.

You may be very well correct about the tariffs, etc. But from the people I've seen posting on our forums, they weren't complaining about the cost. They were complaining about the back seats - headroom, safety, and the lower level of luxury.

I don't blame Tesla if they don't want to try to compete in Europe now until the Gen III comes along. It's costly and complicated to sell in a fractured market like the EU. I'm honestly a little surprised that they are doing as much as they are.

However, if Tesla does want to sell the MS in Europe now rather that just wait for the Gen III, I think they should put in a little extra effort to design a model that is more suited for their market rather than have a lot of "it's a great car BUT..." comments preceding their full fledged efforts.

One should not just say that US and Europe are different markets when it comes to safety features such as headrests.
Per NHTSA there were ~272K+ whiplash injuries in the US (2000), I don't have the states for whole of Europe or individual countries at hand, but think there will be similar numbers for rear-crash accidents.
In the early '90s the average eye-height was taken as reference for headrest height (in Germany), but at the end of the '90s the reference was improved by moving that to the upper-head level instead.
A fixed headrest is basically the minimum position it will ever allow. Assumingly an adjustable headrest will at least still have that minimum height. Thus having the option to adjust it at all can only improve safety for taller drivers/passengers as soon as it is adjusted. To not offer the option, removes potentially better safety to eventually lower the injury rates.
This is how I personally understand that issue and is not dependent on country/market. However, to conclude, that there will be a noticeable impact on sales is so far unclear, or at least not demonstrated by statistics here.

(please excuse faulty spelling e.g. "stats for" not "states for")

Pebell +1


I don't think it's that Europe demands more safety as much as Europe demands more safety for the back seats. As the OP says, when he was looking out the window, most cars had adults in the back seat. Here in the US, I would guess that less than 10%, maybe even 2%, of cars on the road at any time would have adult passengers in the back seats.

@HenryT2 - here we go again... get a BMW 5 if it fits you better - zero argument - stop whining.
In 2012 my wife and I went shopping for new cars... I am sitting tall and didn't fit in any of these fabulus cars - my head always hits the roof. More as a joke I went to the Tesla showroom nearby and guess what plenty of head clearance for me and even more without the sun roof. No way can I sit comfrotably in the back, but that is not were I am sitting. I have no intentions to haul giants around in the back seat. If I want to sit in the back seat and pay a driver then I will definetly not pick a MS for that job. The MS would be in the garage for my driving pleasure alone.
Audis have been always my favorite cars, but I am very dissapointed with their 2012 lineup - nothing is worth the price. Do I hang out on the Audi forum and lament over and over again that they only have 2 cup holders in the back when I think a minimum of three is required for my back seat passengers. No - current Audis are not my cup of tea so I move on and I do not waste my time lamenting.
I am sure that Tesla wants to compete in Europe, but it is just my personel opinion that the MS is not a good fit for Europe on a large scale - for reasons outlined previously.
Just to repeat ( over and over again ) if you don't like the arrangement of the back seats in the MS move on and find the car that meets your personal needs and matches your personal percentions.

Vehicle occupancy rates (US, 2010, by vehicle type):

Occupancy rates for 12 european countries between 2004 and 2008:
Rates in the '90s went down slightly due to e.g. easier ownership and multi-car households.

I'm not at all sure, that anyones' personal observations can be taken as country- or even multi-country wide assessments. The above US data for cars alone seems pretty close to the european data to me (lay person wrt statistics).

Agreed, my previous post was explicitly about headrests. Personally, when buying a car (4 door sedan) as owner/driver, I usually do not weigh lack of headroom in the back to become a dealbreaker. It might be less comfortable for (very) long trips, but that's again not the usual use for many.

Yes, here we go again, if you don't like some small thing, buy another car! I'm so glad you found a car that fit 100% of your needs. I'm sure that with every update and improvement that Tesla makes you die a little. For the rest of us, we just have to get by with a car that satisfies us 99%.

Many years from now, when I sell my car to buy the latest model, I'll be sure to look you up to sell you my old "perfect" car at a premium. You'll be much more satisfied with it because it will have exactly the right number of cupholders and the headroom will be perfectly suited to pompously explain to any person who you have so magnanimously offered a ride that the car is a sport sedan and "how dare they complain about the back seat".

You might look at this forum as a place to troll hunt and slay all heretics who might criticize Tesla, but for some of us, it's a place to solve very real problems and make suggestions that we hope Tesla will take to improve the awesome, yet imperfect, Tesla Model S.

Just start a Tesla based religion and get it over with. You might qualify for some tax exemptions.

@HenryT2 - are you reading the responses or you are just ranting ?

Maybe not a good fit for central/southern Europe but it's a very good fit for Norway.

We have LOTS more space here than the Netherlands (11 people per square kilometer compared to >300 for the Netherlands).
Non-intoxicated adults in the rear are pretty rare ;)
Our speed-limits are LOW, I usually average about 45mph on longer drives. The highest speed limit is 62mph.

Add to that no tax or VAT of any kind and our high wages and cheap hydro electriciy plus expensive gasoline ($10/gal). I can easily see them selling as many as 4-5000 Model S per year here. Around 2000 will be delivered this fall.

@ jkirkebo

I guesstimate that 90% of the 2000, myself included, would have switched to the ModelX given the opportunity.

@notre Maybe, but the flip side to all that extra backseat room in Model X is increased drag coefficient and reduced range. And in my view, range is the key variable for EV purchases at the moment. I would wait to see the full specs on Model X before you make too many predictions.

True schueppert, but as mentioned by jkirkebo electricity is cheap, speed averages about 45 mph on our roads and we have already 6 superchargers under construction.

Elon tweeted today that the first SC in Norway will be in/at Cinderella.

Isn't it true that most Europeans drive small cars with tiny back seats? How do they all manage to put 6'+ passengers in the back seat? Why is Porsche 911 one of the most sought after cars in Europe for years? Did people refuse to buy it because of the small back seat head room? I can tell you people will love the MS and it will sell well in Europe if your purpose is just to bash it.

As for change design have you heard there is one coming late next year for people who have that kind of lifestyle?

The back seat should be reserved only for smokers.
The front seats hold be removed and the car driven from he back seats
Would also improve matters.

Not sure where you got that impression from, must be a wrong stereotype. :) Not everyone drives a Porsche and most only occasionally have 6' tall passengers in the backseat.
I'd assume that it is especially people (incl. myself), that are actually tall that inquire about headroom or have family or friends, that sometimes might get seated in the back. :)

Notre: I don't think so. Maybe 30-40% would switch. Personally I have no interest in the Model X at all, especially with the weird doors as I often use a roof rack to carry stuff.

I know several people who have ordered the S and none of those want the X either. An AWD S however is another matter.

I much prefer the looks of the S and the lower center of gravity. I would like the towing capacity of the X though.

Tobi_ger: That was a weird tweet as Cinderella is a diner, not a location. The location of that SC is a Brokelandsheia, outside the Cinderella diner.

Hah, funny! GMaps showed me Cinderally in "Gjerstad 4993" as a result. Is that it? :)

@tobi_ger Sure not everyone drives a Porsche but Tesla doesn't need everyone in Europe to buy an MS either. That was my point. There will be enough people who feel MS is just right for them same as those who bought it in the US which is not full of short people or small families. Op is the one who's stereotyping.

Curious. I'm 6'2" (and Dutch, for that matter) and I fit fine in the back seat (standard metal roof).

You gave me a picture of carpools of drunk Norwegians (with 'designated drivers who are soberer?) with the back seat full of slouching tall guys singing dirty songs, badly.

Norway is obviously a swinging place!

errata: drivers'
back seats

@ tobi_ger

Seems to be it, yes. One of two SC's connecting Oslo and Stavanger.

All locations:

@Paul Koning
If you have an MS, go sit in the back seat and lean your head back. Yes, if you're sitting straight up, it's fine. But if you want to relax or take a nap, the roof will push your head forward. Not sure what kind of safety issue this is, but it's certainly not comfortable.

I'm fairly certain that taller people who have sat in the back seat and said they have no problem are the types who sit for hours upright the whole time, or just don't sit in back seats long enough to want to put their heads back.

I am 6'1" and fit in the rear seat of my P85 w/o the pano roof with no problems. Now, i don't consider myself super-tall, however, if most of your rear passengers are typically 6'3"+, I would suggest getting the MS with the pano roof (which will add at least another 4" of headroom).

If beehive and or tall pompadour hairdos are your thing, well... maybe it's time for a new hairstyle ;-)

How well does the Audi A7 do in the EU? The backseat for that seems very similar in headroom proportions to the Model S

I think the back seat could re-engineered to be lower by a few centimeters. The keep the knees from being excessively flexed, the seat back cushion could be reduced by a few centimeters to increase leg room and extend the knees. Sure, the seat surfaces will be a less cushy, but a different choice of materials can help.

Tesla can also re-engineer the roof beams. Use stronger materials like Titanium, etc, but that would increase costs.

Remember this is Version 1.0 and it will get better with time.

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