AC performance in front and rear

Nobody has talked about the AC performance in the front and rear passenger cabin areas. Tesla is also pretty silent about this on their website. Most of us drive with the windows shut because of the aerodynamic design of the modern car. It also provides creature comforts that are very much appreciated. In particular, does the rear passenger area have it's own AC controls. This is standard in most luxury cars.

AC performance for the front and back seems fine to me. There are no separate temperature controls for the rear passengers, but they do get a couple of vents and a knob to adjust the airflow.

I haven't seen separate AC controls for the rear passengers except in the most expensive luxury cars - typically in the $120K+ category, or in some monster SUVs that are so big, one AC system isn't enough to cool it down.

I have owned the model S since early December. High summer temperature is not often a problem where I live, but we had a heat wave the past week. With the AC on 71 degrees and manual, I could not get much airflow even with the fan setting at maximum. I figure my AC was not working properly.

Tesla Tech looked at my car today and he was able to get the AC to put out high volume of cold air. How? He put the temperature setting low, even at LO. I complained that I've never had to do that with any other car, but he said that is the way the car is designed.

So, with the outside temperature at 100 and Tesla temp target set at 71, the car put out very little cold air. Today, with the outside temperature at 68 and Tesla temp set at 65, I got lots of cold air. To repeat, Model S puts out lots of cold air to cool car 3 degrees to 65, but refuses to put out much cold air to cool car 30 degrees to 71.

Therefore, it appears Model S is designed to pay attention to the absolute setting of the temperature, rather than the difference between outside and inside. To me, this is a terrible design choice, and even the service tech agreed that it is a design Tesla can change if it wanted to.

The AC works real good and fast. Just the 2 fixed vents and the 3 adjustable vents, with no controls for the back in my car. Also my AC takes about 3.6Kw while parked in the garage 15A at 245V.

2 adjustable vents

@Hills, I think there is something wrong with your car or a setting.

I've had 90-100 degree heat here in CA this last week, and the AC worked fine. Never changed the setting below 70 degrees.

There is a mode where the AC is limited. It's in the settings (I can't quite remember the name - something like Range mode). In that mode, you are not going to get full AC. If this is not the case, I'd contact Tesla again. It doesn't seem right.

I live in Memphis,TN and temperatures in the summer are routinely in the 90s. The air conditioning is fantastic and cools much faster than my previous BMW.

Also, having the ability to turn on the AC from the phone app is one of my most favorite features of the car.

FWIW, my 2013 Audi A6 has individual temperature and fan controls for every passenger in the car. It's part of the "cold weather package". MSRP of the car is about $68K.

I'll be driving a Tesla next Wednesday and am interested to see how the climate control will work.

A/C works well. just get used to the loud noise form the compressor. We've had 103+ here in Northern California all last week and the car was very cool. In fact the app is great as you can cool the car before you get in.

@rwang - the loud noise of the compressor you can tame with driving in range mode. We were driving with 108 outside and car was very comfortable in range mode and moderate compressor noise.
@Dramsey - stick with your A6 if that is important to you.

@Kleist-- I was just pointing out that contrary to another message on this thread, individual temp control is available on cars costing much less than the Model S. In fact it seems to be devoid of a number of "luxury features" like adaptive cruise control, etc. How this factors into my opinion of the car remains to be seen...driving it seems to convince a lot of people!

@Dramsey - you are missing the point. The "luxury" you are getting is the finest performing vehicle on the planet - nothing in the ICE universe can compete. Sure if you are reducing the comparison to a single item like my XYZ has 5 cup holders, or ABC has 500 miles range, or MNH (Leaf) shows me all the charging option on the nav system etc you will find less intial cost vehicles that have this or that feature. If that is important to you stick with it... no quarrel.
Audis were my lifelong favorite cars... last year I was looking for a new car, let's check out the A6. I am sitting tall so head room is critical... my head hits the A6 roof = a functional defective car. Next cars E350, S500... head hits the roof = functional defective. And so on... By chance I sat in a Model S in a show room... sport car, sure my head will hit the roof... suprise I fit in the MS with room to spare.
My point is that if this or that feature is important to you ( in my case head room overrides everything ) please go for it... you have to be happy.
After I got the MS I learned... Why is the MS the best performing vehicle on the planet? Incredible control - I park the MS in my garage so close to wall that barely a sheet of paper fits in between and never hit the wall ( vibration of an ICE would allow that ), on an incline in SF hold the car simply with the accelerator no break/clutch/auto hill hold needed all this stuff you needed for and ICE, 2nd day of ownership the Prius on the cellphone next to me changed the lane abruptely into my lane... a flick of the big toe and I escaped him - any other car it would have been an accident.
And I could go on for hours... my future car choices have been reduced to MS and similar in the future. Cup holders - unimportant. Coat hangers - unimportant. Trip planning - yes I have to do now for longer trips until infrastructure is there. Any other creature comfort - unimportant.

...or a brake hold, I'll bet.

I just got an email from Tesla about tips for improving the comfort of passengers in the rear facing child seats. They include disabling auto climate mode to enable fresh air mode (recirculation is more efficient for cooling, but reduces air flow to the back) and to use both dashboard and floor vents (increases airflow to the back as well as reducing can noise). After getting this email, I checked, and lo! there are air vents below the first row seats (in addition to the rear vents on the console).

For those people complaining about fan noise (or lack of), check which way your air is flowing. Sending it out the floor vents in addition to the dash vents does make it quieter for me.

I don't know how this affects the 2nd row passengers, but my limited testing suggests that the hints may be helping a little for the third row. (It's hard to tell, since our heat wave has come down, and today my son was complaining about being cold when outside.)

@Dramsey I, too, own an Audi A6. It's actually my wife's every day car. Yesterday I had to go to Albany from NYC for the day and the model S wasn't going to make it in the time frame I had. So, I took my wife's car and gave her mine.
Yes, the Audi has a lot more bells and whistles, but driving it just isn't nearly as much fun. The hesitation when you try to pass at highway speeds seems so foreign to me.
All I'm saying is that if you're going to compare the creature comforts of the Audi to the MS you're going to be disappointed in the MS. But, drive it like you mean it and I think you'll understand why most of us simply don't care about the things most luxury car owners expect.

Living in Florida I've had the A/C on every time I've used the car since I got it six months ago. The A/C is much better with the 4.5 software update, and the S does a great job circulating air around the cabin without blowing a howling gale. I'd like a "one-touch max-A/C" button for cooling the car down quickly when I forget to pre-cool the car, but other than that it is pretty good. The lack of rear controls hasn't been an issue.

@Kleist: I think that what you're saying is exactly the point which @Dramsey is making: After you've driven the MS, the priorities of what you want in a car seem to change for many us. I just wanted to point out that you're actually confirming the MS advantage which @Dramsey was wondering about.

It looks like I have inadvertently opened a can of worms about AC climate control.

The fact that there are two separate vents for the rear cabin is great. Most cars do not have separate AV controls for the rear cabin. We can all do without most of the unnecessary dodads that come with luxury cars if we really like the driving capabilities of the SM. However, there are certain basic features that have to work well and AC comfort is one of basics!

The MS is supposed to be a luxury car according to Elon Musk and is priced in the same range as a MB S500 if you buy it fully loaded. So let's get past the infatuation and have Tesla get the basics right so this does not just become a cult car.

It is already a cult car, but in the best possible meaning.

I certainly cannot speak for anyone but myself, however, but comparisons to other luxury vehicles is both warranted and somewhat unrealistic. Part of the problem, I believe, is how Elon talks about the car. He keeps saying that he wants this to be the best car, period, EV or not. Unfortunately, that has set the bar extremely high and does not reflect the reality of Model S. I understand Musk wants this to be the best car out there, but he is obviously putting a higher value on performance and driving experience than he is on creature comforts.

I believe Musk is making these kinds of statements to appease those who criticize the price, however by doing that he also invites a tremendous scrutiny. When items that are basic on other "luxury" vehicles are not found in Model S - convenient and well designed cup holders, grab handles, rear seat pockets, center console storage, rear seat arm rest, separate rear climate control, parking sensors, lane assist, blind spot detection, etc. - the absence of such features invites criticism because it contradicts what Musk has been saying about the car.

Again, just speaking for myself… while I would love to have all of those luxury features, I don't look at Model S as just another "luxury" vehicle. I understand why Musk is saying what he's saying, however at the same time I can recognize the reality - it's a revolutionary, paradigm shifting car where the bulk of the price reflects costs of development and relatively small scale production when compared to the big guys. I don't see the Model S as a luxury car. I see Model S as a revolutionary car in that it's the first "no compromise" EV. I am interested in this vehicle because of its performance, because it is an EV, and because it's made domestically. While I am also curious about the interior, none of these missing luxury features has deterred me from wanting to buy the car. Why? Because the experience of owning and driving the first no compromise EV far outweighs anything else.

I understand different strokes for different folks, and for those who demand the highest luxury inside the car may not be satisfied with what Model S has to offer. There's nothing wrong with that. Just be clear with yourself about what you feel is important in a car and rank those items by importance. At some point you are going to have to deal with the lack of certain interior amenities and ask yourself if that is more important than driving this car. I think it just comes down to that.

When picking up my MS we were doing the walk through and my Tesla rep said the left temp control was for the front seats and the right temp control was for the rear seats. I always thought it was left for the driver and right for the front passenger. I suppose I could go out and test it but I'm curious to hear what people think is true.

@ ORWA, your Tesla rep is an idiot and you would be well served by referring to page 7 of your Owner's Guide.

ORWA - your Tesla rep really could not be anymore wrong. There is no extra control for the rear passengers other than closing the vents in the back.

@AmpedRealtor: I totally agree with your sentiment (except for fact that it being made domestically is an advantage, since I'm European ;-).

If I may add to this discussion: One other reason to buy the car, speaking for myself, is that it's not often in a lifetime that you get the chance of being part of a break-through product. Pioneering something which will likely change the future. Maybe I'm wrong, time will tell, but I believe that the Model S is such a product. In 20 years, I'll be glad to announce to my grandchildren: "I was there. I had one of those vehicles."

Call me sentimental ;-)

Let's just hope that we are not all going to end up owning the next Delorean… lol

I thought she was wrong. Apparently ya'll agree.

@AmpedRealtor: You are absolutely right! You have put the whole issue in perspective. The MS cannot be compared to a luxury ICE. It is a new generation EV and Elon Musk has to be honest about it and stop the comparison hype that he continues to make. Driving performance is the key benefit of this car compared to past EVs and ICEVs. MS owners are the vanguard of this new EV standard BUT they have had to sacrifice a lot in the way of creature comforts.

However there is one feature that does need to be addressed because it is no longer a creature comfort but a necessity for those of us who live in the metropolitan cities: parking sensors and blind spot sensors. Testla needs to offer this as an optional feature if not a standard option. The cost of the hardware is minimal and the fact that there is a wonderful touch screen should make it easy for them to offer this option. For the MS to become a cult car will lead us down the DeLorean path...


I noticed the same thing you did. I'll have to investigate in my car to see if I have the same "issue". But what I have noticed is that the A/C CAN put out a lot of cold air, but the way the system decides to put out that air is suspect. I think it's because the car is trying to economize on energy usage and it prefers to cool slowly unless absolutely necessary. But I haven't had much cause to use my A/C on high, so my experience is limited.

@ ralsagoff, to be fair, DeLorean was brought down when John DeLorean put up $1.8M to buy cocaine and resell it for $24M in order to finance his struggling car company. Thank goodness for that federal loan to Tesla (which Tesla has repaid) otherwise poor Elon would be working one of the street corners of Johannesburg to finance his dream. :P

In order to get the kind of headlines it needed, Tesla had to get this car under a certain price point. They did that, but not without making compromises. Once they hit that price point and got the world's attention, what happened? The 40 kWh model was discontinued due to "lack of interest" (I call BS on that one), and as a result the price went up because you could only buy the more expensive 60 kWh or 80 kWh models. Now Tesla is inching up the prices on options and accessories… Higher margins, anyone? Parking sensors and all the other nifty stuff will come, but at additional cost as options for new customers, adding even more to the base price, or as retrofits for current owners.

Today I ask myself whether I would have bought the parking sensors if they were available. I'm already beyond my limit on price and I would have to give up something else, so the answer is probably no. I don't see any chance that Tesla is going to include the parking sensors in the base model or even in a tech package without raising the price of the car or the package, so whatever Tesla is planning to add is going to raise the price even higher. So this is my consolation, that if I waited for another year by the time all of these new parking sensors and who knows what else is available, it will just cost more in the end.

"The Model S is the best car ... in all the dimensions that matter." You may disagree abstractly with Elon about those dimensions, but probably not after driving a few hundred miles (i.e., the first few days). Consumer Reports came to the same conclusion. Best car ... ever.

Las Vegas. 117. No problem. Enough said.