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Upcoming Q&A with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen - submit your questions!

Later this month we'll publish a blog post featuring a Q&A with Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen about Model S design as we wrap up the Alpha phase. Have a question about Model S design, the process, or approach? Post your questions here for a chance to get them answered!

We know you have many Model S questions, and we will do our best to answer all of them in the coming months. For this Q&A, please tailor your questions to styling and design.

I Saw the question about different Charging options. I reallysuggetsts that Tesla Model S will be equipped with the possibility to use the CHAdeMO DC-charging standard. Especially since Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Nissan, PSA and Volvo have alreade accepted the standard. Many publicly funded Charging stations are currently being put up throughout Europe.
Check locations for Europe out at:

Doing it smart (as Mitsubishi have) you can put the AC chargeport on one side of the car and the CHAdeMO DC chargeport on the other side. Or as in the Nissan Leaf in the same place side by side

Will the CHAdeMO DC charging possibility be available on Model S?

Based off that map those chargers are in Belgium, Portugal, UK and Ireland. Looks like there is one in Sweden. I wouldn't call that "throughout Europe". I hope they get more common, but currently situation is not that good (which obviously doesn't mean that Model S shouldn't have ability to use CHAdeMO DC charging).

Are there restrictions on the maximum size of occupants in the rear 2 seats or can they fit full sized adults comfortably and safely? Will third party applications be able to run on the 17" touchscreen? If so, have you thought about giving access to the Android store like Blackberry has done with their Playbook? What is the resolution of the touchscreen? Resistive or capacitive? Glossy or matte?

One of the areas of the car we still haven't seen is the trunk, including the two rear-facing seats. When will we see those?

I have a question about the materials future of these cars. I know the Roadster uses carbon fiber composites heavily for aesthetics and the body panels, but what about the future cars? Is the cost currently too high to produce composite panels to reduce the weight?

I know there are many other factors, such as their ability to be repaired and manufactured.
I am a composites Manufacturing Engineer so I am just curious. I would love to see the automotive industry do more with composites, but I know that making composites quickly and consistently for a production line is still a rather large hurdle.

Thanks, Seth

It is clear the prototype you designed was a "labor of love". Can you speak to the changes you made to the prototype in what many regarded as visually perfect. Were the changes necessitated by manufacturing constants, cost considerations, safety regulations, brand identity, etc. What design elements of the prototype were you not willing to compromise on.

How many ISOfix seat are there?

"Based off that map those chargers are in Belgium, Portugal, UK and Ireland. Looks like there is one in Sweden."

There are at least one in Norway too, and a LOT are planned to be installed soon.

I read something about the center console being 3g capable. Does this mean the car will have an Internet connection like the Leaf? Will this allow for remote (mobile) apps to communicate with the car? I would love to see a remote control for the AC as I am located in the Phoenix area and just getting most of the heat out of the car before you get in would be wonderful. To this same topic, will there be cooled seats?

Hi Franz--

Two things I'd like to know more about:

  1. The prototype cars had fantastic-looking light-pipe rear running lights (that is, the lights that are illuminated while not braking). The Alpha had dramatically simplified rear lighting which was presumably an artifact of being a work-in-progress. Will the final design retain distinctive rear lighting effects as originally demonstrated on the prototype?
  2. 2. We have heard of 3G or 4G connectivity while on the road. When parked in my garage, however, will the car be able to connect to my local network via a Wi-fi 802.11-style wireless network? I'd like for the car to automatically synch with my home media library by exposing its file-system to my home media server.

Thanks for doing this Q&A session, we're all starving for news and updates!

Will the touch screen have a dimmer for night driving? Seems like something that large would need a dimming switch.

Hi Franz,

Any comments on Model X design? Initial photo on Elon's slides to investors show a futuristic design. Where do you take your inspiration for a Crossover/SUV?


1) What's been the most difficult problem you've had to tackle?
2) Similarly, what did you find surprisingly easy that's attributable to what an EV design allows you to do?
3) What's the biggest thing you've learned from the Roadster that you're applying to the Model S?
4) Can you talk to the processes and discoveries involved in silencing the interior given that there's no ICE engine to drown those random noises (e.g. the brake pump) out?
5) The Roadster's heat is weak in very cold (< 15F) temperatures; given how much more cabin room there is, can you talk to how you're solving for a comfy ride in 0-degree weather while preserving range?
6) What biggest strength do you feel you personally bring to the Model S design (how has your past experience influenced this)?

What will the front/rear weight ratio be? Is it close to 50/50?

As a reservation holder, I have several questions/concerns.
1. Will the production car actually have only 4.5 in ground clearance? That is quite low and probably a problem in normal driving over speed bumps. Plus it puts the door bottom into some curbs on the passenger side when parallel parked.
2. There does not appear to be a place for a spare but many people are not happy with run-flat tires for a variety of reasons.
3. My wife and I really want a back-up camera.
4 Front bumper distance sensing to curbs and parked cars will help us all avoid scratching our beautiful S. Pleas include
5. Blind spot sensing seems more important than usual on the S. Although we have side mirrors, the C pillar looks huge. Looking forward to your discussion.

Will there be some kind of notification to the driver when battery power is low such as a warning light or sound similar to ice cars now.
If so this warning or notification, hopefully, will be at "20 miles or more to go"........not "5 miles or less to go".

I have a few questions about the Model S design, the process, and approach and I've tailored my questions to styling and design.

Full disclosure - I love the look, your environmental considerations and allowing my family to be free of oil. Thank you and everyone at Tesla!

Footprint - Was a longer/wider wheelbase considered?; It looks standard, why not move the wheels further apart? When designing a whole new chassis from the ground up it must have been bandied about around the design table. Curious to know if anyone felt that by pushing the envelope, so to speak, it would create massive interior room and thus compete with the likes of the A8L and 7-series Long.

Long nose - Why such a long nose? Would really like to know if the primary reason was aesthetic or frontal crash resistance or was front wheel drive a part of the design at one time? Again, I'd imagine that some may have thought that shortening the nose would create so much more interior room.

Door handles - There has to be a story here. I'd prefer the handles to be vertical, higher and purely mechanical functionally. I'm concerned about longevity and becoming inoperable in freezing weather.

General design - Which part of the car is the rest of the car designed around? From a design point of view, is it the battery or something else? It seems that every EV maker would put the battery between the axles if they could. That seems the perfect location from a design and physics POV. But also, the dashboard is very striking and iconic (my favorite part of the car) and the rear axle integrated motor is my next favorite from a mechanical POV.

Thanks for your time in advance!


Thanks for all your hard work making EV's a reality. Here are some questions regarding the Model S:

What are the impacts on storage capacity of the three range options? Will all three range options use the same type of battery?

The front end differs significantly between the prototype and the alpha build. Can you tell us what we can expect in the production version and what influenced the design?

Will drivers be able to customize the appearance of the instrument cluster and center console? Are there any concerns about light from the center console during night driving? If so how will these be addressed?

Are there any more details available on a sport version of the Model S?

is it possible to connect a sub-woofer and amp? if so how fast will it drain the battery?


Can I get my sig in matte black? :)

- matt
Canada S24

Hi Franz,

we are all impatiently looking forward to some information "straight from the horse's mouth"... ;-) In contrast to what some folks said in this thread, I feel that Tesla is extremely open and straight forward with general information and even some details, at least much more so, than any conventional company in the automotive business. Still, the gaps that are left by the published information are filled with rumor, and that leaves me uneasy or at least unsatisfied at times.

The battery pack is easily the single most striking achievement by Tesla so far. Here are some battery pack questions:

  • Given that the 300 mile battery uses different chemistry than the 160/230 mile batteries -- can you quantify the difference in charging behavior? Particularly, how long does it take to charge 100 miles in each of the different battery packs?
  • It is said that the 300 mile battery and the 230 mile battery have similar weight, while the 160 mile battery is expected to be significantly lighter. Can you quantify the impact of the increased weight on the Wh/km?
  • Are there any differences in the expected life time of the batteries, in terms of km driven or years or charge cycles? Since the 300 mile battery has different chemistry than the smaller ones, is its expected life time greater or less, and by how much?
  • Available information from Tesla suggests that the structural part in the car's floor contains the entire battery technology, allowing to easily swap batteries of different capacities. Then again, rumor has it that the 230/300 mile batteries will on top use some space from the front and rear trunks. Can you please explain?

I have to admit that my battery pack related questions are not at all "tailored to styling and design". So never mind if you do not see fit answering them in the announced blog post. Among the styling and design questions that have already been asked in this thread, I would like to +1 the following:

  • Front grille, obviously, but also turbine wheels, vent behind the front wheels, light-pipe rear lights and heated(!) door handles: Design and functionality rationale, availability in the final version.
  • Closely related: Can you speak to the changes you made to the prototype in what many regarded as visually perfect. Were the changes necessitated by manufacturing constants, cost considerations, safety regulations, brand identity, etc. What design elements of the prototype were you not willing to compromise on. (Thomas19)
  • Charge access points and compatibility with different standards.
  • Where there any true "ah ha!" moments you can share from the Alpha phase? (Mike_ModelS_P457)

Finally, I am seriously concerned about the 17" touch screen. I love it as much as the retractable door handles and would not want to bargain it, I am not religious about "hard knobs" although they have proven a certain value particularly in the automotive environment, and I believe in Tesla that you can do it right. However, it is obviously a serious challenge to design such an interface in a way that is unobtrusive and requires similarly little visual attention as good ol' hard knobs. I wonder

  1. how are you going to achieve a usability suitable to a driving environment, and
  2. why did you bother with this "revolution" in the first place, seemingly unnecessarily running the risk of failure (at least, from a UI perspective), when the Model S would arguably be innovative and challenging enough without this additional challenge?

- How is the design going to protect against saltwater corrosion and gravel/rock strikes from the underside? Yes, I live in a rural, snowbelt area with bad roads (including gravel roads) and massive salt use.

- Another voice regarding the underclearance. Even our paved roads here are full of bumps, dips and loose bits of rock, or in the winter hunks of ice and snow. And half of them are on steep hills with sharp vertical curves. Very low clearance on the underside means a *guarantee* that the car will bottom out in bad road conditions. My current car has 5.5 inches clearance at the wost point, 6 inches in most places, and *it* bottoms out intermittently.

What is being done in the design to address this and protect the car from being damaged by the typical rural road?

"5) The Roadster's heat is weak in very cold (< 15F) temperatures; given how much more cabin room there is, can you talk to how you're solving for a comfy ride in 0-degree weather while preserving range?"

Good question, I second this one too, living someplace where it gets that cold fairly often in winter.

The blue light bars on the front of the prototype were beautiful. I've heard that the color will be changed to white for legal reasons. That will still be beautiful and unique. Please don't use anything that is similar to Audi's daylight running pinpoint LEDs. They are unattractive at best.

concerned about the front grill like the others here; the grill and the badging from the prototype were great! The Mazda-silly-grin on the alphas put a scare in many of us reservation holders ...

Type of security systems built into the car?

Type of sound systems already equipped?

Type of Standard tires? They for comfort or economy? (Prefer comfort)

Best of luck organizing all these requests. Willing to help if needed, and looking forward to the Q&A.


Some things I am wondering about:

I am a big Subaru fan, also own Nissan GT-R... Really an AWD fan, any chance of adding second (perhaps smaller) motor to add power to front wheels? As an option? I like performance and utility (bad weather) advantage of this...

Also wondering if there has been any brainstorming, design into the "sport version"? What might be differences? What might be cost differential? When might it be available?

Signature edition differences?

I actually think the touch screen is a nice touch, BUT I recently drove a Toyota Prius and tried to use a software touchscreen interface while driving -- this is HARD, so will there be steering wheel mounted controls? This is on the Toyota Prius and makes using things MUCH EASIER while driving. I am all for touch screens, (iPhone, iPad user/lover) but while driving it is DISTRACTING. I like to be able to reach out, change temp, radio WITHOUT LOOKING, and once you drive a car for a bit u can memorize where things are... Ergonomics VERY IMPORTANT

Any chance of WiFi ability, so car can interface when in my garage? Updating radio info, cd names, etc. Maybe even firmware upgrades?

We are all anxious to hear about options and pricing...

Please have the mirrors fold(electrically if possible).

Good luck


Surround cameras?
Backup camera? (prefer with anticipated trajectory)

Auto park would be AWESOME!! Bragging rights...

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