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"Interior: Touch sensitive door handles"

In another thread it was mentioned that the Model S Specs page now contains warranty information. Tesla seems to be silently updating the Specs page as they go.

I quickly glanced over and found another bit of info that I did not notice before. I am not sure it is actually new, but I am sure it has not yet been discussed here. "Touch sensitive door handles", in the "Interior" section.

I cannot map that information to the interior door handles I've seen on the beta models so far. They are stylish and maybe a bit unusually shaped, but definitely regular physical levers. So either I am mistaking this, or the interior door handles are to be replaced with something completely different. Someone mentioned that the finish of the door handles is not as smooth and polished as it should be in a car of this class. Maybe that's an entirely moot point then.

I checked out the Fisker Karma at the Geneva Motor Show, and its got door open buttons instead of levers. I absolutely loved them, I had to try them over and over again. When you push the button (not much more than actually touching it), the door pops open and the window of the frameless door rolls down a bit as these windows do. The response is instantaneous, one single action that feels very light, easy, natural. So much so that I was wondering why we haven't been opening car doors like that for years.

Of course, I expect that the button does not respond when the car is in motion, and it is in a place where I think you'd rarely push it accidentally. If that's the route Tesla wants to go for the Model S, don't hesitate! I am looking forward to it.

In the "Safety" section it says: "Interior, manual release mechanism for all doors, frunk, and rear cargo area".

I take that as additional confirmation that the primary release mechanism for the doors is not a mechanical lever, but an electrically powered system.

I'm hoping that it's similar to the Karma's interior door release button. And hope they design such that it will only open when you want it to. I could imagine a button on the side of the door where you can't easily bump it, but could press it and then could move your hand down slightly to grab onto the door as it opens.

Volker, that would match up with reports we've been seeing about how the exterior handles work. i.e. pulling on the handle doesn't open the door, touching the handle does. So there's a very slight delay when you grab the handle and the door pops open.

I don't know how that works with gloves on though. Is there a pressure sensitive switch as well, so that when you pull the handle, it sets it off and likewise on the interior switch?

I'll be so glad when I get my car and all will, FINALLY, be revealed.

I am not sure where I have read it, but wasn't the opening of the handle triggered when aproaching with the key in your pocket ?

I believe there is a pressure sensitive switch on the inside of the exterior door handle. So when it pops out and you put your hand in the door handle, you don't really pull the door open, it will just pop open when you put enough pressure on the switch.

I didn't experience this in person, but this information was relayed to me by someone who was at the Santana Row store this weekend.

I have also seen this on one of the video's on youtube, I think with Franz explaining things. If I recall correctly, you push the handle, it will come out of the door, and the door will open automatically.

Specs page is the base car. Tech package could include things like this.

Wait and see, I think.

I am pretty confident I know this for sure:

I am not sure where I have read it, but wasn't the opening of the handle triggered when aproaching with the key in your pocket ? (steven.maes)

When approaching the car with the key fob in your pocket (w/ Tech Package) or when pressing the unlock button on the key fob (w/o Tech Package), the car unlocks and the door handles extend, but the doors stay closed.

If I recall correctly, you push the handle, it will come out of the door, and the door will open automatically. (steven.maes)

No. That was/is the way the prototypes and betas work b/c the key fob function is not yet in place.

Thx for clearing that out.

Taking all these comments together makes a lot of sense.

1. Since the Model S has frameless side windows, these must roll down slightly, so some electrons need to be moved anyway when the door is opened.

2. Since the exterior door handles extend and retract, it is probably mechanically challenging to attach a physical lever to them. This may also explain why at the ride event and at all shows so far, the Tesla employees consistently use the interior door handle (physical lever) to open the doors. I have yet to see someone actually opening the door from the outside, using the exterior door handle. To resolve this issue, it is probably easier (and more reliable) to add a sensor/button/switch, cable, microchip and actuator, than piecing together a mechanical solution.

3. Now that we have an actuator-driven door-opening mechanism, it's probably again easier to implement an open-by-wire solution for the interior handle as well, than have a lever there that needs to interact with the actuator setup. Therefore Tesla must practically resort to touch sensitive interior door buttons in place of traditional levers.

This argument applies regardless of the Tech Package, because even the base car has "flush mounted exterior door handles".

I just hope the overall package works as smoothly as the Fisker Karma I tried. For the Wow-effect to happen (and to prevent frequent little frustrating moments) the door must pop open instantaneously with just the right amount of "pop". :-) Those Fisker doors are way better implemented than your average button-operated hatch which usually only opens at the moment when you think that you forgot to unlock it because it does not respond (immediately).

@Volker, I opened the doors on I think all 4 Model S' at the SR event and aside from one that stuck in the rear driver side passenger side from overuse (one of the Beta Models) the handle worked great. I kept pushing it, waited for the door handle to slide out, wrapped my hand around it and the door popped itself open for me, all I had to do was pull. When I closed the door, a few seconds later the handle pulled back into it's channel and I could once again press it to have it slide out. My wife, a tiny Chinese gal, 4'9.5" (I have to add the .5 or she get's angry) had some trouble getting the door to trigger an open. She kept trying to open the door on one side or the other, not necessarily in the middle so maybe the sensor was there? Anyway, wanted to share my experience with the door handles specifically.

I noticed this back during the update too, and I think it sounds pretty cool.

Reading these posts made me wonder. Suppose the door handle doesn't pop out when you press it. Suppose the mechanism is broken/malfunctioning. What will be the backup plan when the handle is overused ? Will the door itself still go open because you pressed the door handle ? Hope the other handles still work and crawl your way into the car through the door in the back ? Perhaps an open-by-wire solution is not so bad after all...

I opened the doors on I think all 4 Model S' at the SR event and aside from one that stuck in the rear driver side passenger side from overuse (one of the Beta Models) the handle worked great. [...] (BYT)

Very interesting and good to hear! I still assume that the push that triggers extension of the handle is just a stand-in while the key fob function is not yet in place. It is reassuring to learn that Tesla does have some mechanism in place at this time that is actually working (even though we know that it will be changed/improved for production). :-) Thanks for sharing!

Being touch activated (as apposed to pressure) would be a problem in cold climates when people are wearing gloves. Kinda like the iPhone.

There are more than two types of touch-sensitivity, but the most common two are: resistive and capacitive. Capacitive works with gloves. I think we already heard that the infotainment screen uses this, so I would assume the handle is the same.

Actually, the way I read the reports from SR, it seemed like you didn't necessarily have to touch, and just needed to put your hand in there. I was figuring it to be infrared.

The chrome handle still looks like it is there on the in-store version of the design studio in this pic from last weekend:

Does this have any bearing on the above discussions?

I have no idea. The official pics made available to those lucky Sig reservation holders that have to make their choices now, do not reveal whether or not the handle is there. Coincidence?

When I touched it, I also gave it a little push so it didn't appear to be the touch that mattered so mush as the little push in the Beta Models.

@BYT, that is how I would expect it to work so I'm happy to know that's how it worked for you. It's intuitive to press with a little force and then grab the door to control it's motion.

Hey in cold weather if you have gloves on just use your tongue!?!

@Sudre, I can see the headlines on that one! The Daily News Headlines, "Man Love His Model S a Little TOOO Much!"

The young lady that was demonstrating the touchscreen at the Santana Row event was wearing gloves and she had no problem working the touchscreen.

The Specs page now just says "Aluminum interior door handles."

The Specs page now just says "Aluminum interior door handles." (Longhorn92)

Wow. That tells us two things. First, once again, Tesla does indeed read the forums. And second, this thread is entirely pointless. ;-)

SR beta news sounds very encouraging, and looks like TM has made very good progress on the door handles.

I only saw a beta in Jan that had inoperative handles, but here's how I'd reconcile the seemingly conflicting facts-

Mechanical backup is required for life safety, so I'm guessing TM has configured it as follows:

1. Aluminum interior mechanical handles

2. Capacitive touch sensor (set to thru-glove sensitivity) wired to the aluminum handle to form a sensor plate.


Touch the interior handle and the door latch motor activates, unlatching the door.

If you pull the handle, that works too, but once you get used to the easy-out, you just stop doing the extra work to pull.

This is a very smart architecture to help folks easily transition to a better way, and also makes emergency exit obvious..

By contrast, Fisker separated the mechanical backup to a second physical handle in a much lower, less visible position.

Like you Volker, I really liked Fisker's design detailing and materials finishes for the door and window switches. They are brushed stainless steel, and impeccable. However Fisker's architecture of two separate areas for primary and backup controls is needlessly obscure, and scary if you're panicking to get out.

Style matters a lot, but it must never trump substance. If my inference of TM's design is correct, score another win for TM over the competition.

A car can aspire to be beautiful sculpture, but it must also deliver high functionality. TM's thoughtful blend of refined design and intelligent engineering is the winning ethic to build a better car.

On reliability:

Today's brushless dc motors are very reliable, delivering multimillion cycle life. They have a single moving part. A one inch diameter motor can operate the door latch, and is very low cost now.

In many cases, a brushless motor actuator ends up being more reliable than the many mechanical linkage parts it replaces, which I think is true here. (In this case it's even more reliable because you have two fully redundant systems, which can each open the door).

If you build a car around mastery of electric propulsion, you have the competency to use electric drives to replace legacy mechanisms in these small areas too, so why not go for it?

Taking even the prosaic door handle and bringing to it a new level of refinemnent in feel and function will be a very cool advance for customers, and another differentiator for the Model S.

Next question is whether the touch feature is only on the tech package.

Touch is standard and it opens automatically with the Tech Package, handle just pops out for you when you approach.

The preemptive pop-out when you approach the handles with the fob in pocket is certainly part of the tech package, but BYT were you able to confirm that that the interior touch release is standard?

Oh, interior? Missed that, I was referring to the external, sorry for the confusion on my part.

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