By now I am convinced will deliver a great car with the S. I am a Sig reservation holder, but the key in deciding to actually buy the car for me , will be the looks of the 17inch panel in the dashboard. Alpha looked good, beta less so.
It will be a combination of all factors.
Interior ergonomics--particularly the seats, sightlines, ease of use of the touchscreen
Interior aesthetics--will I enjoy the interior both now and in the future
Handling/responsiveness--the "connection" to the car, right balance of road feedback, etc
Acceleration--not too concerned about this, honestly
Exterior aesthetics--High degree of confidence here
Electric drivetrain--balancing the benefits with the challenges
The approximate "scores" in all of those categories will be weighted based on some unknown mental algorithm that will spit out a YES or NO. I've analyzed it from a numbers perspective, once I get the test drive it will be about touch/feel/emotion.
I am with MandL on this one:
It will be great if we fall in love with every detail of whatever the final interior design turns out to be, but we're not making this enormous leap because we think it has the coolest center console (or lack of one). Yes, we feel that if we're spending this much on a car it should be exactly what we personally think is perfect. No, we don't believe our feeling that way is likely to have a significant influential effect on how Tesla goes about making those design decisions.
Ultimately, we are buying this car for a whole bunch of reasons. We'll happily or grudgingly make our choices from the available tire, wheel, leather, and trim options, we'll adapt to the reality of the design of the center console and cup holders or their lack, and we'll drive it around showing it off, talking it up, and most likely defending what ever we end up with as the best thing since sliced bread regardless of how we might have done it differently.
Let's be honest here. The single most important factor to someone who was willing to bank $40K with Tesla (myself included) is how jealous will my neighbors/friends/co-workers be, closely followed by how much admiration/cred will this get me in the eyes of my grandkids, kids, that cute vegan barrista at the coffee shop. ;-)
One look at the Model S and that cute vegan barista will start spontaneously demonstrating yoga poses. Be careful! ;-)
@MandL - /chuckle @ Hall Pass reference
Since the OP mentioned the 17in console as a primary "key" for the buy decision, let me comment on it and on the interior in general. I just spent about an hour of quality time with the Beta at the Dania Beach, FL store. It's the first time I've seen it in person. Unlike Mall stores (the Dania store is in an industrial park), it was not very busy this morning, so I could sit inside the car for as long as I needed to get a good feel for the interior. I was allowed to play with all operational functions inside the car.
The 17" display I experienced is part of the white Beta from the NAIAS, so the final integration of the display remains unclear. Functionally, the display is VERY impressive. Excellent ergonomics and an intuitive flow make buttons, knobs and small displays seem very 20th century by comparison. Graphics are clear, informative, and well positioned. Sound system is outstanding (I cranked it up a bit and it provided high quality, distortion free play). The pano roof is impressive from the driver's seat, although none of the reps knew how the roof shade would work.
To be honest, I think a slightly smaller display (say, 15in.) would have been easier to integrate into the dash and would have taken nothing away from the functionality provided. However, the 17incher works just fine.
I have been a vocal critic of the Beta interior. After spending close to 30 minutes total sitting in the car, playing with all operational controls, and studying the layout, I am somewhat less concerned. The existing beta interior, although far from perfect, presented much better in person than it does in photos.
My Tesla rep indicated that he has discussed the need for other leather colors (saddle came up in the conversation) and accents with people from Tesla HQ, but he was noncommittal about any movement on the matter on TM's part.
Big picture: The exterior is executed flawlessly, the engineering is outstanding, the interior room is astounding, making the car a 9.5/10, even with the 7.5/10 beta interior. If Tesla has redesigned the interior so that it becomes 9.0/10 (heck, even 8.5/10), the Model S will be hard to resist when compared head-to-head with the usual suspects.
" After spending close to 30 minutes total sitting in the car, playing with all operational controls, and studying the layout, I am somewhat less concerned."
Exactly! If you just look at a picture, especially the bad dash pictures Tesla's had, I'll admit that the display looks weird. But when you're sitting in the car, actually using it, it's not weird at all.
I'm not concerned at all. When my friends ride in and drive the car, they're going to be totally blown away!
I NEED this car regardless, as my situation is unique (as maybe opposed to others out there), thus I am on-board even if the interior turns out not to my liking.
However, on the flip side, my concern is; the Model S NEEDS to sell to the masses of upper-income consumers (some of which might not need a EV car to commute 100 + miles a day, and desperately need access to HOV lanes in cities where traffic is a nightmare).
Thus my major concern is that the Model S turns out to be a Delorean DMC-12, in that we all end up with a expensive vehicle with a defunct company, whom couldn't sell enough cars to stay in business in the end. (BTW, I am in NO WAY saying the ‘Tesla Model S’ is anywhere close to a ‘Delorean DMC-12’ in any regard)
On the flip side (for those of you that don't know the Delorean story)... Both the Model S and Delorean DMC-12 share a few similarities, in that they are (were) build by a small start-up company using a government grant. Both were originally marketed before release with a low price-tag, which turned out much higher in the end than original anticipate, and both didn’t deliver what was originally shown or described to the public… In Tesla’s case, an unappealing beta interior. In Delorean’s case, a piss-poor motor. Either way, I DO NOT want to see Tesla end up on the same path as DMC, however, in the Delorean’s case, they were selling a vehicle during a much better economical time (1981), as opposed to the much more difficult economical times we are currently living in 2012.
Also, back in the day, John Delorean was considered by most as an amazing visionary, who already had a track-record of outstanding success in the automobile industry (similar to Elon Musk in many ways).
Again, I am in NO WAY saying DMC and Tesla are the same, or that Elon Musk and John Delorean are similar people, regardless, there are a few disturbing similarities at this point in time when it comes to their situations.
To read more about DMC… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeLorean_Motor_Company
It's not a delorean, the fiskar is.
I just got back from the Portland car show and they had one. Stunning car on the outside, but I really doubt it will sell.
Both were originally marketed before release with a low price-tag, which turned out much higher in the end than original anticipate, and both didn’t deliver what was originally shown or described to the public… In Tesla’s case, an unappealing beta interior. In Delorean’s case, a piss-poor motor.
A little harsh in my opinion. The S held it's price tag, probably the only thing missing from the base that I would expect to be included is leather. All other upgrades were about what I expected. Again, just my opinion. and expectations.
Not delivering on the interior . . . there was an Alpha, there was a significant change to the Beta. Most people on this site would argue it's a step down. Very different, though, from a weak engine in a sporty body.
Agree with ThomasN that the Fisker is akin to the DeLorean. Looks like a performer but a dog off the line.
Thomas & JohnQ,
I agree! The very fact that our government agreed to give Fisker Karma the multi-million dollar grant, is WAY beyond my scope of comprehension of good common sense. I suspect powerful oil-lobbies had a hand in helping them to get that grant, just because it is still in part an ICE vehicle.
Regardless, I know my speculation of using the DeLorean as an example of what might happen to Tesla seems impossible, and farfetched. However, anyone who has been alive long enough to have seen what happened in real-time to DMC, is a businessman, and understands the auto market, knows Tesla is in a very tough situation with what they are trying to achieve with the Model S. Not only does EVERY auto manufacturer want to see them fail, so does the biggest and most powerful industry in the world (BIG OIL). Thus, Tesla MUST be that much better by leaps and bounds, verses a few innovations to tickle the fancy of upper-income consumers. They need to realize the majority of the industry are against them, and will be highly critical of this car to the umpteenth degree!
I know my post are getting fairly ad nauseam at this point, and many of you would likely prefer I just go away, or be the typical ‘fan-boy’ along with the majority of the board. However, I REALLY CARE what happens to my investment and Tesla, and need to do anything I can to make it very clear the current interior design is a HUGE mistake at this point!
All I can hope and pray is, they are taking these postings very seriously, and making serious changes to the final release.
A. I think you're really overstating the interior "problem".
B. There's a huge difference between DeLorean and Tesla, (and a similarity between D & Fisker). Both DeLorean and Fisker can design a gorgeous car, but neither one can run a car company very well. Musk, on the other hand, can very effectively run a car company and has proven it.
With regard to (A), I REALLY hope you are right for all parties involved.
With regard to (B), we will see. The Tesla Roadster was not a 'game-changer', where the Model S will be, if successful.
The Roadster wasn't a game-changer? Really?!
"We've sold about 1,850 Roadsters worldwide and we're going to make 2,500 in total. We've sold out of custom Roadsters in the U.S., but still have a number of spec cars left. We plan to sell the last of the North American Roadsters by early next year and to continue to sell in Europe and Asia until inventory is fully depleted in 2012. Last Quarter we delivered 190 Roadsters."
2,500 cars is in no way a ‘game-changer’ to the major auto industry.
It's a nice start to prove you can do it though.
I'm headed to dania beach sat morning to look at the beta. Like sofla, I have not seen the car in person. But I will have plenty of questions and try to take a bunch of decent pictures.
I hope to see you in Dania Beach Saturday morning.
The first time I saw the Model S it was an Alpha prototype. So while I spent some time inside I was so preoccupied with the exterior that of course at the time all I noticed were superficial things like the interior being glued on.
I've also spent about 2 minutes in the Beta prototype taking the test ride with four other squeeling reservation holders. Needless to say while going through the slalom course and accelerating hard through the straight away, I didn't focus on the interior on that occasion either.
So, like Soflauthor I'm planning on spending some quality time with the Beta this Saturday, and maybe tomorrow afternoon.
By the way, Soflauthor thanks for your observation. I hope to see you as well on Saturday.
@Charged_Up and @LarryC
Those of us on the list in SoFla have waited quit a while to get the Beta to come down here. It was worth the wait. I'd didn't take too many pics because I now better appreciate that pics really don't do the car justice. You gotta see it live :)
I'll try to make it on Saturday.
Whereas I also would prefer the Alpha interior, minus the glued on interior of course, ;-) I agree with Mycroft. That is, I think you are placing undue emphasis on one issue rather than maintaining proper perspective on the whole car and the production schedule.
Based on Elon's comments that the Beta is 99% of the production intent, I think all this angonizing over the dash board design in the hopes that Tesla will make a major change at this late date is out of touch with the overarching reality, which is that this car has to ABSOLUTELY get released on time as promised.
The Roadster was a game changer in much more than simple sales numbers. The Roadster made believers. Believers of those who drooled over the car. Believers for those of us who feel electric cars are the future. After the major automakers destroyed their electric cars, as in "Who Killed the Electric Car" Tesla kept the dream a live, and did so with the Roadster. The day I got to test drive a Roadster was like a trip to Disneyland for me! Like dreams fulfilled. Now I anxiously await my Model S.
The Roadster was the game changer at GM... from the Wikipedia entry on Tesla...
In an August 2009 edition of The New Yorker, Lutz was quoted as saying, "All the geniuses here at General Motors kept saying lithium-ion technology is 10 years away, and Toyota agreed with us -- and boom, along comes Tesla. So I said, 'How come some tiny little California startup, run by guys who know nothing about the car business, can do this, and we can't?' That was the crowbar that helped break up the log jam."
The Roadster pushed GM to get back in the game with the Volt.
It's true, Tesla didn't sell me a Roadster, I'm not one of the 2500, but the Roadster sold me the dream, and sold me on the Model S. So yes, I think the Roadster was a game changer.
Frankly, at this late stage, and from the type and tone of replies i have been getting from my customer advocate, my guess is that the early release vehicles, that is, this year, are not going to be significantly changed, other than in the case of actual seats, and possibly the steering column which at present is a rebadged Merc one.
Once they gear up for the European and Right hand drive releases next year, there may well be significant redesign. it has been implied to me that specifications and what is standard/optional will be different to USA spec. It has further been implied that there will be further colour options as well as leather options with the efflux of time and especially when they are ready to release to the right hand drive market.
If you are right, I suspect a lot of early owners here in the states will feel very betrayed, which will be even more sad for all the folks who fronted $40k to Tesla for a subpar rushed interior.
Yes, I agree that without the roadster, Tesla would have had a far more difficult time getting the government grant, and the thousands of deposits for the Model S. I don't know if I would call that a "game changer", however, it did prove to Detroit that their 'thinking' that they had bought out and destroyed the EV tec and burned it for good, was not exactly true.
Aren't the government 'grants' people keep referencing actually loans with real interest above discount window rates?
I suspect a lot of early owners here in the states will feel very betrayed, which will be even more sad for all the folks who fronted $40k to Tesla for a subpar rushed interior. (TikiMan)
Maybe I overlooked, but did you state that you have had first-hand exposure to the interior as it is now? Several commenters in this thread and others have made a point that the interior is actually quite nice "in person". That's no doubt a matter of taste to some extent, and a matter of Tesla trying to be different whatever it takes, but "subpar" and "rushed" does not seem adequate. (I haven't seen it in person yet, looking forward to Geneva's Auto Salon in March to get a first-hand impression).
Regarding the early owners feeling "betrayed": TikiMan, you cannot have the cake and eat it, too. It is inherent to the first cars off the line that they cannot anticipate all developments and refinements to come in later iterations. Would you rather be driving around in an early Model S while the production will surely see one refinement or another over the course of the upcoming months, or do you prefer being in line for a perfected car which you will not be able to touch and drive for a couple of months or another year? The choice is yours, but you cannot have both, and it is naive to blame Tesla (or anybody) for this simple fact.
I'm with Larry Chanin: In creating good press and avoiding bad press, the interior is one aspect, but timely delivery is very likely even more important. Remember how Fisker was sneezed at for not making announced delivery dates over and over again. That is something Tesla has to avoid by all means (and as it stands, they will "deliver" in every meaning of the word).
Aren't the government 'grants' people keep referencing actually loans with real interest above discount window rates? (Jason S)
Nice round-up (don't miss the second page!):
I would say the beta interior definitely looks unfinished and subpar with the display shoved into the dash. It does not look as if it were designed. As a sig holder I am hoping that the RC will somehow improve the integration of the screen into the dash. I don't have any hopes for a compelling interior (as the exterior is compelling) but I am trusting that it will be good enough for me to ignore the weakness of interior design and buy the whole package.
@adstein: are you basing your comments on your extended sit-time as Soflauthor was, or simply on photos available?
@Volker: a perfected car which you will not be able to touch and drive for a couple of months or another year
Anyone who has purchased a computer - dare I say iPhone? - knows there is no final, perfected car. It boils down to when you're willing to ante up and settle for today's car, even while knowing better is coming.
I say this after reading a new analyst's report suggesting an LTE (4G) version of the iPhone 4s is coming. I may have to get one to talk to my S. I'm nowhere near deciding to get one, but by daughter is already jealous.
Exactly Ed! The number of pundits and naysayers who slammed the first iPhone was huge! Same with the iPad. Now, it's difficult comparing a $1,000 device with a $60,000+ car, but it's simply impossible for Tesla to please everyone with this first iteration.
After thinking about my rather lengthy driver's seat assessment of the Beta interior in Dania Beach, I'd like to suggest what I think TM should do (has done) to ready the Beta interior for production. Like many of you, I recognize that the interior will not be a 9.5/10, but with the right design tweaks it can easily be an 8.5/10 and that will be good enough (for me).
The 17" display: I'm hoping that TM recessed it with leather buffering so that it's better integrated into the dash. I'm hoping that TM rounded its corners to make it less stark when viewed from the drivers seat. On the plus side, the display is very easy to reach; it visual field is excellent, and within minutes, you begin to believe that the virtual "controls" are real, (e.g., the audio volume "switch" becomes just that in your mind).
The dash: The dash itself can be tweaked without much production cost. It needs to be softened overall; air conditioning vents need to to modernized and recessed; curves need to highlighted, the glove box needs to be vastly improved (too small, too recessed), the instrumentation display is fine. The decor accent "woods" need to be improved dramatically. The Model S I previewed had Lacewood accents. Lacewood is (no offense, TM) downright ugly! A few more conventional wood accents need to be added. This small accent change would improve the overall look of the interior dramatically.
The steering wheel: The stick F-N-R controller has to go; it's unnecessary and would be better handled in some more elegant way. The wheel itself is the right size, but needs much better leather treatment. Wiper controls are typical and appropriate.
The seats:I'm hoping that the beta seats have been jettisoned and a major redesign is going to be offered. The beta seats have a 'flat' feel, no character, no side bolsters, no premium stitching ... nada. The black leather was flat. I'm hoping that all of this has been corrected. And yes, we need additional leather colors (e.g., saddle)
The now infamous console: In my view, the Model S needs one for all of the reasons I and many others (the vast majority :) have stated elsewhere. But let's assume TM decided not to go with it. After studying the floor area, it would be very easy to design a removable center "insert" (for lack of a better term), about 6 - 7 inches high that sits in the recess area along the center-line of the front floor. The "insert" would have accessible storage spaces for storing small items out of sight, would be nicely shaped to match the flow of the interior, would appear permanent, would be fashioned in matching leather and accents, and would be provided only for those who want it (for a optional cost, but free for sig holders). Once you study the floor area of the Model S, you'll see that an "insert" is very doable. And yes, I'm hoping the beta arm rest/cup holders area has been completely redesigned.
There's more, but that would be a low cost start that would take to interior from 7.5/10 to 8.5/10. I can only hope that TM made similar design changes.