Reactions from Model S Beta?

I'm interested in reactions from ONLY those who have had first hand experience with the Beta vehicle (in person). Here's my story, and a related one, that sort of explains my reason for asking:

As I'd mentioned in another post I had been excited about this car for some time. However, what I may not have mentioned was that I was somewhat on the fence. That was until a good friend, and reservation holder, invited me to go with him to the Model S beta event at the factory in October. This journey is what made up my mind that I absolutely had to have this car. Shortly after they showed the car at a local Tesla dealer, and I took my wife and daughter, and they were equally excited about it as I was. So this is where it gets interesting...

The reservation holder I went with was not as impressed as I was. He rode in the rear seat, and I was in the front passenger. He commented that the fit and finish was not up to par, and that this car would never be competitive against BMW (he's a rather big fan). I explained that this was a Beta vehicle, not a production car, and was going to be a bit rough. This didn't sway him. In fact in a later conversation his wife mentioned seeing the car at the dealer and had the same unimpressed feeling her husband did, and proceeded to try to talk me into a BMW (not interested, thank you).

My concern is this. For people outside of any industry where they might have first hand experience with "beta" products, what they are, and what they can look like compared to the final production release, this may be confusing for some.

Your thoughts?

Yep, the interior of the beta isn't impressive, outside of the 17" screen of course. The production car will be available in a couple of months though.

Mycroft - But most people get that it's a "beta" vehicle, right?

Early adopters yes, the general public not so much.

The last time I was in Bellevue, I was excited to get in the car again, but once I was in it, I felt like I was wasting my time because nothing was what the final car was going to be.

Did you learn anything new about exterior or roof, etc., while you were there?

brian, Not sure if your question is for me.

When I went to the factory the issue of "can they build it" and/or "can they do it when they say they can" was relieved. From what I saw the factory was pretty much good to go, save for dies and a few bits here and there.

As far as the car goes, getting a chance to ride in it (although I had been hopeful to drive one) was thrilling. It really is a very nice car, very smooth, very quick and seems to handle transitions well in spite of it's weight and size.

The whole event was extremely positive, as were the news reports on it that followed.

Was for Mycroft, but the more the merrier.

In mid November I got to visit with the car that the San Mateo office referred to as the 'sound testing vehicle'. It had bits of the dash loose, some chunks missing in trunk, a piece missing from near driver side door, etc. Obviously a test unit placed in the sales floor for the weekend.

Was fun to sit in driver's seat and experience the TERRIBLE cupholder / lack of center console they had in it. Even got to pinch my fingers accidentally with it. =P The glovebox was in terrible shape though. Had to assure the wife that this vehicle was obviously not the production interior.

On the plus side, however, the lights and exterior were quite impressive. The leather interior also showed well. Got to tease one of the sales guys regarding the low ground clearance; evidently it was lowered because it looked better -- I told them people would be able to get in/out of the car much easier if it was raised when stopped as well as when lower speeds. (Seems to me that would be default anyhow)

The sound system was very nice, and it was fun to play with the console. Was also notable that the console has a bunch of functionality effectively crippled on that test vehicle -- no setup screens for bluetooth / wireless, no way to try playing my own music on the stereo. Both are important to my prospective use of the stereo (wireless sync to home music catalog, bluetooth to phone(s) in the car). No way to get to Pandora either.

But it was fun to see and play with the lights.

In truth, I'm happy that I haven't attended the factory event or seen a Beta in person. I'm P1491 and excited about the car but the reality is that, until I get a chance to really test drive a production model, I will remain on the fence. I suppose it's because I committed this time last year and knew that everything about the car was subject to change. The back and forth about the design, fit and finish, etc is valuable feedback for Tesla but I'm not getting too worked up about it at this point (other than having expressed my opinions to Tesla).

When I do test drive the production model I'll also be test driving a few other cars including the A7 and 530i. I tend to keep cars for 10 years or so (9 years now on my current car) abnd don't want to make a mistake I'll regret. Once I see how it stacks up against the competitors I can make a final decision.

"Did you learn anything new about exterior or roof, etc., while you were there?"

Nope. They couldn't even open the pano roof.

In my opinion the exterior is an absolute stunner. I had the opportunity to sit in the black beta (Santana Row store) just a few days ago (would be happy to post a picture but apparently im clueless on how to within the forum).

Pictures do not do this car justice (IMO). For instance the hip over the rear quarter is a very nice character detail that is lost in a 2-D rendering. I might be a bit infatuated with the design though. She (the model S) is seductive (just like my beautiful wife :-)). Isn't this the feeling you should have when buying a performance/luxury/revolutionary EV? I think Tesla has done an incredible job with the exterior. The model S is modern enough without being too crazy and impractical (BMW i3 comes to mind).

I'm in the group that understands these are beta/test vehicles so the complaints about the interior fit and finish are unjustified to a large degree. The forum comments (both negative and positive) provide Tesla with potentially valuable market research so they should continue and be encouraged.

I share concern about the 17" screen integration and lack of center console however I have faith in Tesla, they will get it sorted before delivery. If the engineering prowess of the exterior and driveline/chasis design is carried over to the interior Tesla will succeed. Excellent reliability will also be needed. Wow, no wonder building cars is a tough industry to be in.

If you are a reservation holder and you have not yet seen the vehicle in person you owe yourself a look.

I'm bullish in TSLA

You can join Photobucket free and use them to hose the pictures.

I agree with you on the exterior styling. The Audi A7 is *very* similar overall, but I'm thinking the newer Nissan Altimas are closer in the rear.

I totally didn't get the point of the "beta" car currently in Bellevue. Interior fit and finish was crap, seats apparently not final, pseudo-prototype console. I've made cabinets and furniture. Trust me, I could do better. No visors, no glove box. All they could definitively show was the display and the exterior.

Thanks Mycroft, I'll look into Photobucket for picture hosting.

I like the A7 but don't care for the "pinched" rear end. I know the folks at CNET liked it (the A7) choosing it as their Car of the Year.

I am posting my pics of three different beta visit trips in the last two months (first to Menlo Park, second and third to Santana Row). I saw three different cars over the course of the visits, and noticed many differences along the way.

You will notice from the pics that I pretty much only took pics of the things that were finished -- I did not want my wife to see the unfinished parts, of which there were many on the three different cars (often with parts falling off the interior). Does this change my mind -- not one bit. In fact, if all works out on Tuesday, I will upgrade to a Sig.

The pics are available here:
Model S Beta Gallery

If you have pics of unique things you noticed, please post them here so we can all share!

BTW, after sitting in the car with my kids tonight and looking through the pano roof with them, there is no way that I am NOT getting that roof. It is killer!

Wow, thanks for posting the photos! Were you able to have your kids sit in the jump seats? If so, what was the reaction?

My 9 year old sat in the jump seat and we shut the back. It is definitely for younger (ok, shorter) kids. His head was just about touching the rear window. He said it was weird having his face up against the glass. I will have to measure to see how tall he is, but I definitely would not let him sit back there.

My kids are currently 4 and 2 so I'm hoping to be able to put them in the jump seats if needed for a few years although most of the time they'll probably be in car seats in the rear seats.

@David den Boer , thanks for the pics of the Model S.

You should know that your entire photo album is available for public view (not limited to the Tesla pictures). This is a major flaw with MobileMe gallery sharing.

Sort of off the subject, but on the exterior design perspective. At least two of my friends keep trying to push me into a BMW. I've owned one before, good cars. My issue is the basic look of them. What I'm looking for is something along the lines of the CLS, A7, Panamera look. In my view the Model S does a good job of creating a good deal of interior space and comfort, while still having an attractive, stylish, modern and aerodynamic design.

I guess I'm just tired of the standard, "here's your hood, four doors and trunk" look. It's time for something more forward looking.

Well said

Since there is no normal hood under which these things usually reside would someone who has seen the beta be able to answer these admittedly naive questions for me?

1. Where is the windshield wiper fluid access/reservoir?
2. Where / how do you check brake fluid?
3. How does a service person access the engine and ac/dc converter?
4. Is there any coolant fluid that needs checking? If so where is it accessed?
5. What are the expected service checks for the car?

Thanks kindly.

Most of that stuff is probably under the plastic cowling around the frunk.

The expected service is going to be annual at a Tesla service center or by a roving "Ranger". Not a DIY type of thing.

The drive system is tucked between the rear wheels and accessible from underneath the car.

@Mycroft and phb: Thank you for the information. Very helpful.

One more question: Can anyone who has seen the beta comment on the headroom with and without the panoramic roof in both the front and rear seats? Do you get more headroom with or without the pano roof?


Since they haven't shown a car without a pano roof, that's impossible to say at this time. They should have better dimensions by the time test drives have begun, so you can decide at that point if the car without a pano roof has too little headroom.

David, I'm wondering, would the link to your pics work if I took it out of this forum and shared it? Those pics are great, and really deserve a wider audience.

mscottring, yes it'll work, whether or not that is intended by David.

@ddruz...I'm 6'1" and when sitting in the back seat and I sit up as straight as possible and as far back as possible I can just touch my head to the roof.

If I'm in a comfortable position I have about 4" of space and I'm not slouching for what it's worth, but YMMV.

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