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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.

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What do you mean by "radio key"?

Do you mean something like the Prius smartkey or what?

Smart key / radio key

This does not require physical contact with vehicle. (like placing in door to open, like placing near steering column to start engine)

This key uses RF to communicate with vehicle and disarm security system and allow operation, most luxury auto makers have these, my Nissan GT-R, toyota prius, actually all nissans as option, range rover, BMW, I don't know Mercedes, etc.

You still have buttons to arm/disarm, pop trunk, panic, but key can stay in your pocket and you can push button to start vehicle. If your foot is on the brake, it starts engine, otherwise it activates electronics only...

Sme of these allow other things, like window control from keyfob / smart key... Think roll down windows to vent hot air in summer, hop in, a/c blast and go!!

In that case I'd assumed that the Tesla would have that kind of key. It's available for a number of modern cars.

The only trouble I ever had with the Prius smartkey was the battery in the key. I had to replace it twice in a four year period. IIRC it was a typical battery (2032) used for computer CMOS.

Dear Supergreekster,

You don't have to post the same picture on all forums in all threads.

- what about the "key"? could it be just a fingerprint on the touch screen? As the car is full electric, no mechanic should be involve for the key. What option did you explore?

- What about the climate control? How the car interior is heated in extreme cold weather, and how is it cooled in warm weather?
What impact on energy consomption and autonomy?

- Could you provide more details (dimensions) on the cargo volume (L x W x H), and openings side (L x W)?

Gnarly, dude! Also snarly.

- Can we have hard buttons/switches somewhere (steering wheel is fine) for crucial driving features, such as turning on the defogger, which may need to be done *while driving* without taking our eyes off the road? Safety first.
- Fourth agreement on the front license plate bracket. They're mandatory here too and I wouldn't want to be drilling the aluminum frame or anything stupid like that; I also wouldn't want to interfere with ability to open the "second trunk" in the front. You need a standard front license plate bracket spot.

@ncn, from your other thread I second: manufacturer approved snow tires (studded tires here). We have snow about half a year here. And also second (third? fourth?) that front license plate bracket.

Will there be servo steering? The roadster does not have this and it is quite heavy on the steering.
Will there be a theft alarm included?
What about the surplus heat from the batteries - will this heat be used for heating the cabin when necessary?

I know I already have a question post, but a few more questions, more design specific, came to mind...

From a 3D design point of view, did you have anything that inspired you in the design of Model S? Was it all about cars or were there other shapes / objects which pushed the design forward (e.g. "shark like")?

Also, in the video interviews I've seen you say that as an EV there are so many more options for design. Did you feel constrained by the legacy of ICE based automobile design; specifically things like the hood area and overall shape of the car or the wheel base length?

Lastly, if you have to choose one color combo for interior and exterior that really articulates the look and feel of the Model S, what would that be? I've noticed there is now a red/crimson prototype out there, but assumed that had more to do with the evolution of the Tesla branding - BTW that car looks amazing in red/crimson!

Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope Tesla does more like this on topics like technology and innovation.

I just realized from roadster posts that the car runs the air conditioning during fast charging. My question is, can you set the charge rate low enough that it doesn't make noise if you don't need a fast charge? How loud is it at different charge rates.

Brilliant functional and esthetic design of the Rims for the Model S, I see them drawing air across the Disc Brakes to cool them as well as potentially cooling the battery and creating a "vaccum" underneath the vehicle that would, in essence, improve drag coefficiency and "Ground effects ".

Interesting point Denis.

I see that the rims on the left side of the car draw air from under the car, but are the rims on the right pitched the opposite way to draw air outward also? Can anyone point to a link showing the right side of the car when stationary?

As for cooling the brakes, I can't believe that would be an issue. The only time brakes would overheat for a long enough time to be a problem would be on long downhill stretches. On the Tesla that wouldn't happen unless the car was already so fully charged that regenerative braking can't happen.

I Just found some photos showing the right side. The air is pushed to the inside of the car on the right side, defeating the idea that a "vacuum" would be produced under the car.

Alpha pictures? Others don't count (unless there is already beta in roads).

Loved your design of the Solstice and Sky. Is there a Model S convertible in the near future?
Is Tesla actively pursuing the German DBM-Energy batteries?

A followup thought on the rim design. Even though I don't think it's likely necessary to be needed for brake cooling, it might be helpful in the cooling of the battery pack.

Maybe this is something that Franz might address, as it is related to design, although possibly functional as well.

That one reminds me of Leno's Ford Focus EV

I saw a video where the door handles on the prototype are shown in action.

It made me a bit worried. I can't help thinking that this looks like a case of form over function. The mechanism looks a bit slow. What if you need to open the door quickly? What if you get your fingers stuck in the handle when the door handle slides back in? Will the door handles still work if the car loses power, say in an accident?

I'm as forward thinking as the best of them (case in point, I wagered five grand on a reservation), but I think a traditional door handle would do the job just as well or better. Thoughts?

Considering the planned child seat in the back, how is the crash resistance in the back?

I would hate to get rear-ended while carrying the world's most precious cargo in the rear-facing kids' seats, but if it happens, how will the model s hold up? What design measures did you take? Will you have a crash test to show it?

Had a chance to see and place my order for the Tesla S at the Vancouver Sustainability Expo,weekend of May14th. Had the privilege to meet "Jerome", "The Guy"in charge of production, a bright and articulate engineer who went on and on about the dedication of the Team and how demanding and unrelenting Musk was regarding design details, tolerances and Quality control measures. I drive an Audi Allroad introduced in 2001,the first true LUV,no longer available in North America since 2005. The car came with a Height Adjustable suspension which allows the driver to increase the ground clearance by 10cm.,this gives the vehicle more clearance than a BMW X5.(It also came with two third row rear facing back seats) The undercarriage was extremely well designed incorporating front and rear skid plates, symmetrical exhaust\muffler placement, no protrusions whatsoever....however,it does not compare to the undercarriage of the Tesla S, which looks like the top side of a table turned upside down! Which brings me back to the designs of the rims...Jerome made it very clear that the design team avoided the use of "gizmos" such as fixed or retractable "bat wings" that only detract from the esthetics. I do believe however, that creating a vacuum underneath the vehicle with a Turbine Rim Design would significantly improve aerodynamics, drag coefficients and ground effects, performance of which would increase with speed. I'm hoping the Design Team at Tesla are able to rethink the nine blade impeller rim design to address this concern. To create bilateral symmetry, the rims on the right side would have to be mirror images of those on the left otherwise the vehicle may, at high speeds, have a tendency to track to the left..!?... Now that Tesla has taken it upon themselves to reinvent the automobile, I think its incumbent upon them to reinvent The Wheel! For those of you who haven't seen the car "in person", you are in for a is drop dead gorgeous!! P.S. I believe the Height Adjustment suspension should be incorporated into the 4 Wheel Drive Tesla. Incidentally, Audi 8's have aluminium bodies.

You may still be right about reducing air pressure below the car, especially since it seems from your observation that the undercarriage is so smooth.

Increasing the normal airflow under the car with a lateral component from the rims in addition to the usual backflow (which probably almost acts like a Venturi) could indeed add to the effect. I had been thinking that the rims on the right would have to be mirror images to work properly, but in terms of reduced air pressure might still without doing so. OTOH, as you've noted, it could cause tracking problems, if they weren't made mirror images.

Complete iPhone/iPad integration... requested. Will the Model S have it?
- want to run navigation apps, pandora, iPod, MapMyRide, etc...
- sure some of these might be in the "tesla" version, but the UI and ease of use will it be there? Will you be as flexible and upgradeable as the rest of the IT market?
- heck, just plug your iPad into the dash in place of the enfotainment center... then create your own special Tesla App and advertise with Apple. That will get Tesla mainstream!

Performance Version?
- 0-60mph specs for the various battery packs (less car weight faster speed)
- 300mile at 5.6sec
- 230mile at ???
- 160miles at ???

More Alpha Images
- love to see the crash test images
- love to see Beta designed car
- love to see the 3rd row (I've got 3 kids and DON'T want a Mini van!)

Demo a Battery Swapout
- I'm debating on a smaller battery pack, and renting the larger pack when I go on vacation
- How plausible will this be. Do you see the seattle store having enough 300-mile packs to swap out.

Can you provide us a Model X teaser?

May is almost over and we are all eagerly waiting for the promised blog post. Since this post still seems to be in the works, I assume it is in order to place two more questions:

I think keyless access and probably even keyless go can be taken for granted with the Model S. But which technology will you use for the key? Radio, RFID, NFC? A combination of these or something entirely different? And, most interestingly, what is the reasoning behind your decision?

Here is a thread with some thoughts regarding this topic:

And a related question: What other methods or technology will be in place to ensure that only authorized people can drive away with the Model S?

It would have been nice if it was possible to set the car to some kind of highly reduced effect when needed. This to make sure that if someone is borrowing the car you still have some kind of control. If for example one of the kids in the house (or your spouse...) is to borrow the car, this function would have been not only desireable, but maybe also necessary...


I know the Roadster has a "Valet Mode" that restricts the top speed to 50mph and does a few other things. I would assume the Model S would have something similar. Check out this video, the valet part starts at 1:35.

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