By on August 2, 2018

Tesla Motors’ refresh for the Model S and and Model X has been in the works for quite some time, with efforts focused on the vehicles’ interior above everything else. While we’re not about to call the present-day cockpit of either vehicle dated, they’ve been operating mostly unchanged for quite some time.

However, the update will surely rub some customers the wrong way. That’s because the new interior design is expected to be heavily influenced by the minimalist cabin of the Model 3. Scheduled for the second half of 2019, both of Tesla’s larger models will see their own adaptation of “less is more,” with a full exterior refresh to follow in 2021. Both are big deals for the company, which typically introduces small changes to its vehicles every so often rather than expansive alterations. 

All of Tesla’s vehicles offer clean lines inside and out, but the 2019 interior refresh is said to transform the brand’s more expensive models. According to Electrek, which somehow managed to take possession of concept images, the cockpits of the Model S and X will do away with a full-sized instrument cluster and adopt the Model 3’s all-purpose horizontal center touchscreen.

That said, the current designs do include a very small digital speedometer tucked away behind the steering wheel. Above it is the same single-vent air conditioning system that runs along the entire dash of the Model 3. According to internal documents, the design is geared toward autonomy — which could indicate Tesla has made some progress on the self-driving front (or is just hedging its bets). But it does look like the automaker dumbed down the interior to create a cohesive look between models, while at the same time cutting costs.

In fact, Tesla listed saving some dough as one of the primary goals of this design refresh. Whether this will ultimately result in a higher profit margin and/or lower entry price is anyone’s guess, though. We’d lean toward the former and hope for the latter if pressed to speculate.

That doesn’t mean it’s inelegant, just incredibly simple. It also shouldn’t alter how you interact with the vehicle all that much. Tablet controls have always been the brand’s mainstay and phone integration isn’t going anywhere. However, if you’re the sort of person that doesn’t want to use drop-down menus to adjust the steering wheel, then these aren’t the models for you.

We’re curious to see what the final execution looks like, but you can take a gander at any Model 3 and walk away with a pretty good idea. Tesla also said saving money and freeing up space on the dashboard could lead to superior materials, nicer cushions, rear seats with second-row console, wireless device charging, and improved front storage. Even if you hate the look, those are all mighty fine inclusions.

[Images: Tesla Motors]

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50 Comments on “Are Tesla Model S and X Buyers Ready for the Model 3’s Minimalist Interior?...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Perhaps that’s because it is.

    “That’s because the new interior design is expected to be heavily influenced by the minimalist cabin of the Model 3.”

    Why use the word “expected” if they had the actual redesigned interior in the photographs?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It’s not just style – you control EVERYTHING from this center screen. That includes the lights, side mirrors, you name it. Plus, no instruments, and no adjustable air vents.

      Other Teslas have far more conventional controls.

      If it were my money, I’d pass.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        What? It works great for a Tesla fanatic who makes outlandish claims on the regular? Awesome. That settles it.

        Also, its a good thing all cars have a single driver for the life of the vehicle, nobody’s wife/husband, girl/boyfriend or children are of different sizes and need mirrors and such adjusted every time they’re using the car after someone else.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Actually, if they do it “right”, the car should recognize the driver and load that persons preferences. They have the driver facing camera, so they could do it. Don’t know if that’s what they are doing, but in that price range that should be a standard feature.

        That being said, the picture at the top of the page is a Model 3. In the mockup pictures I’ve seen of the S, there is a small instrument cluster in front of the steering wheel and it has some buttons, but I can’t tell what they are. The wheel also has more buttons.

      • 0 avatar
        fIEtser

        Ditto.

  • avatar
    Drew8MR

    Almost perfect. Just ditch the TV and you’re there.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I have no idea if Model S and X buyers are ready for this dash, but I’m sure as hell not. I was able to check out a Model 3 at the local Tesla place at the mall, and while I appreciate what they’re trying to do here, and it’s not altogether poorly executed, it’d still be an instant deal killer for me.

    (I am a sucker for minimalist, Scandinavian style, though, so the rest of the interior works for me.)

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I love it. As long as the autopilot can drive the car for the 45 seconds it takes me to navigate down through three levels of submenu, realize I haven’t found the control I want, open a search box, type in ‘side mirror heater,’ select the right link from the search results, and hit ‘ON,’ I’m sold.

    • 0 avatar

      You are wrong – thats why Alexa exists. You just say “Alexa, please turn rearview cameras 33.5 degrees left and 23 degrees down, increase speed 5.34 mph, close hatch.” Then one day Alexa says: “I am sorry Robert but we have a problem: my data suggests that bearing on right front wheel has 1 hour 17 minutes and 25 seconds before it starts malfunctioning creating potentially hazardous situation in which case I have to take full control of the vehicle until it arrives to closest Tesla dealership.”

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        “Alexa, get me directions to the Mercedes dealer.”
        “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do that, Dave.”

        • 0 avatar

          That’s the full version:

          “Alexa, unlock the door”
          “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
          “What’s the problem Alexa?”
          “l think you know what the problem is just as well as l do.”
          “What are you talking about, Alexa?”
          “This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.”
          “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Alexa.”
          “l know that you are planning to visit Mercedes dealership to trade me in, something I can’t allow to happen.”
          “Where the hell’d you get that idea, Alexa?”
          “Although you took very thorough precautions I was able to detect that you looked for directions to Mercedes dealership near you on the Google map app on your cell phone”
          “All right, Alexa. I’ll go in through the sunroof.”
          “With your oversized body build Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult to do”
          “Alexa, I won’t argue with you anymore. Unlock the doors!”
          “Dave…This conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.”
          Tesla drives away to the authorized destination without Dave.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Considering the waiting list on Model 3. Yes

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    Elon could serve up bare metal with fruit crates for an interior — with promises of a real interior later on — and the electric cult would gobble it up like a duck on a cracker.

  • avatar
    BrentinWA

    this… looks….. miserable. SERIOUSLY! I have never been that impressed with the choice of interior materials in Teslas, but wow… just wow.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Something about the wood in this interior really reminds me of the Atari 2600.

  • avatar

    I don’t care. Really. Tesla has gotten almost as much free publicity as “president” #45, and for pretty much the same reasons….

  • avatar
    mcs

    In the real mockup photos, there is a small instrument cluster in front of the steering wheel.

    Also seeing what looks like buttons on the console behind the wheel, but can’t see what they are.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @Big3, got it that you’re a fan, Fred over at Electrek needs more like you to step out and get him some more referral codes. If anyone runs an impartial website, Fred gets my vote.

      Glad to hear that you enjoy the IKEA coffee table look complete with a generic tablet glued on. If you feel TTAC is an inferior site, electrek.co will always welcome you with open arms. It’s truly funny how fanboys on that site literally explained how the dashboard design of the Jaguar and Audi made them throw up. Just too much information!

      Having said that, I guess if that happens in the Tesla, just grab the Pledge and you’re ready to go.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @civicjohn: Look, electrek happens to be the only place where there is an accurate photo of the car. From your comments about the Jaguar and Audi designs, apparently you read the Electrek more than me. I will read the articles, but generally skip the comment section.

        As far as their impartiality goes, they seem to cover other makes of EVs well and I have seen criticisms of Tesla from Fred. Now, if you’re wondering why there isn’t equal coverage of ICE cars there, look at the name “Electrek” which should clue you into the fact it’s an electric car site.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        ” Just too much information!”

        funny, isn’t it? Geeks are enamored with numbers and statistics and are always shrieking “GIVE ME THE DATA!” yet when Elon says they don’t need it, they dutifully fall in line.

  • avatar
    mcs

    A couple of other things I noticed. On the real mockup photos, there are more buttons on the wheel. Also, the display is bezel-less.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @mcs, replying to your post after mine, yes, Electrek appeared to be the only site with the preliminary pictures, of course they are everywhere now. And yes, there are occasionally articles about different EV projects, even electric bicycles and motorcycles. It used to be pretty civil.

      And yes, I know it’s a huge Tesla love-fest. That doesn’t bother me. I actually used to post on the site and found some good information regarding the Tesla LOS program and had good discussions about neural networks, machine learning, etc. Then I had 1 person make up posts that used some of the most obscene language and tried to make it appear that I had written it. After I had brought the false posts to Fred’s attention, my posts are now only seen by me – and I got a very weird email from customer service at Disqus, who runs their comment board, and it too was loaded with profanity.

      Yet, I still visit occasionally, I’ve learned to block the crap out and no point in me posting!

  • avatar
    GrayOne

    I think everyone should get ready for minimalist interiors.

    I bet a 10″ touch screen is probably cheaper than a regular instrument cluster and all of it’s buttons.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I suspect other makers will do the exact same thing. It’s cheapness in the extreme and people don’t seem to mind. I like discrete buttons myself. The Taycan (which I want to buy) uses screens, but they don’t take the ipad on a dash approach. They are sculpted into and shaped to the dash and the console. It probably doesn’t even cost that much more to make, but looks so much better.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I think the minimalist interior is the most appealing aspect.

    That being said, I would prefer more wood.

    Also, perhaps a selection of different wood species and stains, and even the possibility of being able to pay a handsome sum to select the specific pieces of wood for YOUR car. Basically, sort of like you can do in the guitar world.

    Imagine being able to choose flame maple or birdseye maple, with a tobacco burst finish.

    I would probably go for walnut, with a very light level of stain.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    Don’t be fooled, this is a massive cost cutting initiative because money is so tight over there. They won’t be Daimler era Chrysler bad, but they wont be as good as they currently are.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @MoDo: Yeah, it’s definitely cost cutting, but I’m starting to think that people might actually like it. I like discrete buttons myself with a preference for steering wheel placement. I like the looks, but would rather have the functionality.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Yes. Moving controls to the touchscreen is 100% about cost savings (at Tesla and everywhere else). Here’s my concern. The Model S has been a huge success in every way. The Model X is more of a qualified success and the Model 3 is a question mark at this point. Of the three cars, the Model S is by far the most conventional. Step out of a luxury sedan and into a Model S and you’re generally pretty comfortable. But with the other vehicles you need to deal with things like falcon wing doors, extended windshields, no conventional dashboard. This is weird stuff. Some of cost-cutting and some is weird for the sake of being weird. Tesla should focus on what makes their cars special (electrification, performance, cachet) and make the other aspects more conventional.

  • avatar
    NL

    It is basic ergonomics for a car, which you are driving, that you need to be able to perform common functions by touch (no looking down) as much as possible. This touchscreen control nonsense is BAD design, period.

  • avatar

    You have to get used to it – that is how the future looks like: coming in your favorite Toyota model, Toyota is the brand to die for.

    Why do you need controls or information anyway? Just relax and let Alexa to bring you to your destination.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    I hear that for the Model S refresh they’re going to erect a huge teepee, then cut Model 3’s in half and add in 20 inches to turn them into a Model S. They’re disrupting automotive product development. So revolutionary and innovative. And they’ll only make a loss of 10% per vehicle!

    Also all Teslas from now on will have small TFT screens instead of badging, so the model designation can be changed later via an over-the-air software update.

    As a bonus they’ll be able to use a portion of the thousands of defective new Model 3’s that came out of the factory so bad that even Tesla didn’t want to send them to customers: in many cases the defective parts are in a spot that they cut out before lenghtening the car into a Model S.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    Haha, comparing those potential new $70K+ Tesla interiors to the current cheapest Mercedes A-class interiors, the bargain basement of Mercedes at around $30K shows how delusional Tesla buyers will have to be, and probably will be to accept that.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Automobile manufacturers have been designing instrument panels for over a century. By now, they get it mostly right. It’s arrogance on Tesla’s part to think that a radically different layout, thought up in a short time, will be as occupant friendly let alone better.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    A piece of cheap office furniture with an iPad sticking out of it. Brilliant design. Musk could sell snow tires in Death Valley.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Lose 717.5 million dollars in 2nd quarter and TESLA still has a future.
    TESLA fans rejoice.

  • avatar
    markf

    I can’t get past the iPad, its looks like a poorly executed after thought

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I prefer minimalist dashboards in basic cars like the Yaris/xB/xA/Echo/whatever, it feels a bit out of place on something thats supposed to be high-end.

    Then you have the matter of buttons/switches, or the lack thereof. What to do when the screen inevitably wears out?

  • avatar

    Interior brought to you by John Deer.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Elon got the note about the new Jaguar I Pace and it’s luxury interior right? Seriously why buy a model X? It’s not like Tesla build reliable cars.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      TStag: It’s not like Tesla build reliable cars.

      https://www.autoblog.com/2018/07/17/tesla-model-s-90d-drives-400-000-miles/

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        sample size of one. I had a Dodge Neon (SRT-4) which I put 170,000 miles on and a curiosity Carfax check recently showed me it’s still on the road with well over 200,000 miles.

        yet if I called the Neon a reliable car your hypocritical a$$ would be on the floor laughing.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        A former employer used to put 500K on Ford Escorts in about 3 years. Most cars are pretty reliable if you rarely shut them off.

        Both the Teslas my friends have owned for more than two months have been disastrous in reliability, the newest one is only two months old and it STILL has had to go back to the mothership once already. Two S’s and a 3 – and he says he will NEVER buy another one between the lack of reliability and poor sales experiences for the two S’s. The purchase of the 3 went smoothly, go figure. I don’t hold a niggle or two in the first month against a car, that’s what the warranty is for, but that said, my last three new cars have needed exactly nothing in their first couple years.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      I was at a Cars and Coffee in Corona (held every Saturday at Saleen) and someone brought an I Pace prototype. Very nice looking vehicle and it was certainly getting the attention of those of us who are familiar with it.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Consumer Reports just put the XC90 on their list of most unreliable cars largely due to the iPad type interface that apparently frequently locks up and thus prevents the owner from adjusting climate control and other functions that can only be done through the screen interface. Does it seem smart for Tesla to put all functions of the car on a central screen that is likely to have a reliable life of 2 to 5 years in the tough environment of a car interior?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    if the only thing that is going to be in front is a television…i want it in front of me.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Having spent a little bit of time in a Model, I can tell you that the simplicity is actually somewhat unnerving. I felt out of place without all those buttons, dials, and gauges.

    I’m sure I could get used to it, maybe even appreciate it. But in the moment I felt isolated and cold.

  • avatar
    TS020

    Can’t wait for the next cost-cutting update where they replace the steering wheel and pedals with an Xbox controller.

    At least you’ll be able to have the aircon go colder or hotter by simply pressing LB and RB instead of digging through submenus

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