Tesla Model 3 Prototype Lacks An Instrument Panel – Production Version Likely Will Too

1 year ago by Mark Kane 66

Tesla Model 3 Interior Dash (from the live reveal)

Tesla Model 3 Interior Dash (from the live reveal)

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Tesla Model 3 Interior

The Verge recently inquire about the lack of an instrument panel in the upcoming Tesla Model 3.

There is 15-inch touchscreen in the middle dash, but just a plain board without display or buttons.

The first question is, whether it is ready yet, or if its concept is close to production locked in? Some Tesla staffers apparently said that “the dash is essentially production-ready“.

If you are unable to check the range or speed of your car on the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, maybe the reason is that you don’t need to – because Model 3 will be self-driving?  That seems a bit silly, but that’s what the Verge speculates anyway.  Full Autopilot will be an option, but we have large doubts about full self-driving capability in late 2017 (it won’t be); the non-Autopilot Model 3 would still need to share some basic information, in a prominent way anyway.

The other (and more logical) reason for the instrument cluster’s absence could be cost-savings.

“The obvious explanation is that Tesla had to cut corners to bring the Model 3’s base price down to the promised $35,000, and I do think there’s probably an element of that. But a $35,000 car is still not a cheap car, and if you look across the auto industry at $35,000 vehicles, you’ll see a lot of attractive interiors.

Another plausible explanation is that the interior simply isn’t done. That is true: there will be more to this car by the time it’s released a year and a half from now, but I was told by a Tesla staffer at last night’s event that the dash is essentially production-ready in its current state. In other words, the details may change, but the overall concept isn’t likely to change much; I would be shocked if a traditional instrument cluster magically sprouted between now and late 2017.

The remaining explanation, I believe, is the biggest one: the Model 3 is a self-driving car.”

Our bet would be that Tesla is holding an ace, and at some point will introduce a virtual instrument panel displayed on the glass. It would be Tesla style innovation.

Video (below):  Check out this first drive/interior review from SlashGear from the Model 3 launch event

source: The Verge

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66 responses to "Tesla Model 3 Prototype Lacks An Instrument Panel – Production Version Likely Will Too"

  1. e-Lon says:

    Straight from the source:

    “@HBL_Cosmin Wait until you see the real steering controls and system for the 3. It feels like a spaceship.”
    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/716729420078133248

    “@iKrivetko that’s not the real steering system
    View conversation 47 retweets 338 likes”
    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/716730641585340416

    “@BValvsRacing It will make sense after part 2 of the Model 3 unveil”
    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/716713294128500737

    So that is one safe bet 😉

    1. Cavaron says:

      True. Will be something like this I guess:

      1. RexxSee says:

        Is the HUD always efficient even on a bright sunny day?

        I imagined also a round monitor on the steering wheel, always kept leveled when you turn the wheel.

        1. RexxSee says:

          But in my Prius, the display is located near the windshield right in front of the driver. Very convenient and safe, better than looking down on the steering wheel. Besides, I would like a HUD with as many or as few informations one would like to see, but always very low near the dash, out of the way, unlike the Audi video example above.

        2. Speculawyer says:

          Clever idea! . . . But the airbag needs to be there.

      2. Nelson says:

        HUDs get in the way of seeing pot holes. If the three comes with HUD, I hope there’s a way to shut it off.

        NPNS! SBF!
        Volt#671

        1. Speculawyer says:

          What?

        2. Priusmaniac says:

          Not sure an HUD would get in the way since you can still see through.

          But potholes are a real problem every car should be able to do something about since the state obviously doesn’t.
          Actually, one solution was offered by the Bose type magnetic suspension system that was able to raise a wheel in front of a pothole. Recently a research center in the Netherlands improved the magnetic suspension further and, yes indeed, used a Model S to test it.
          I wonder if we may have that on the Tesla in the future since a magnetic suspension would be a great fit for a car that is already electric. Response times are simply amazing and software improvement allow unbelievable magic over obstacles which are impossible with other suspensions.

      3. sven says:

        Here’s a video of the HUD on a 2016 Prius @ 5:20 into the video:

    2. pjwood1 says:

      Tesla could easily go the direction of both serving drivers, and automation. It is anything but a safe bet they care about the former.

    3. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      Yeah this info is like, all over the internet except for insideevs, lol. They showed the car with an unfinished interior.

      I think it’s going to be as cool and innovative as everything else about the Model 3. My only concern is reliability. Tesla already has issues with low volume production and when they scale up? Reliability and quality control is harder then the initial design. This is the one area where the experience of traditional auto companies is a big advantage.

    4. Dragon says:

      I bet it will blow fog behind the steering wheel and project a 3D visualization into the fog!

      You heard it here first! 😉

  2. David Murray says:

    This issue is the biggest issue for me. It is the thing I dislike most about the car. Given the choice, I’d rather have NO screen in the center console if it means I get a screen in front of me while driving.

    1. Anderlan says:

      There are plenty of ways to get data in front of you. I do this in all my cars if there is any room anywhere for a screen to show me data the exact way I want it. Even in a Tesla, without OBDII, you will no doubt be quite able as a human being to mount a cheap tablet behind the wheel and get butt-tons more data than you can choose from visualized in butt-tons more ways than you ever wanted.

      So, this is an interesting wrinkle that they chose this way, but it’s the absolute last worry in my mind because I *will* find a way to see the data I want how I want. Maybe not the first month I have the car. Maybe not the first year, maybe not even under the warranty period. But that car will be my property and I’m a hacker and I have no worries. And Elon generally agrees with that outlook.

      1. Anderlan says:

        That came off a little stronger than I feel. I’m quite miffed along with you. One of the reasons I plunked my reservation down is because I was sure Tesla’s technical visualizations would remain not-dumbed-down like Nissan’s and others. So, I’m cautious, but it’s not a show-stopper for me.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      Even if it has a HUD?

      I’m fine with anything on this issue. Just the panel would be fine for me.

  3. Mapper says:

    Driving my analog car, it does amaze me how much real estate in the dash is dedicated to things that a driver doesn’t need to know in a glass/digital world. Volts, engine temp, tachometer, etc. If there is a problem, not much I can do, except identify it, which one could do with a digital message too… hopefully this is another innovation of tesla that makes it to the mainstream OEMs…

    1. Speculawyer says:

      As an engineer, having more info is always better for me. But I agree, most don’t need nor even understand much of the information provided. I am fine with the info being on the center console and only optionally displayed.

    1. Alaa says:

      After reading this

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_by_wire

      I would say that Tesla will be foolish if it doesn’t do it. Simply because all the disadvantages are related to ICE and the delay it takes. While in an electrically operated car these delays that could cause hazardous situation are completely eliminated.

    2. Someone out there says:

      Controlling a car with a joystick is a bad idea. Try playing a car driving simulator with a joystick, it’s really uncomfortable and inexact.

      Also, I believe steering by wire is illegal at the moment, there must be a physical connection between the steering wheel and the road wheels.

    3. Marco says:

      This is exactly what I “dreamed of” in a spanish forum a minute ago. Having already the centre screen, if you were to put this joystick on the middle console, it would allow a single car model even for left hand driving countries -> cost savings.

      And after all, if the car is already equipped with computers for steering the car with autopilot, they don’t need anything else. They already have the drive-by-wire equipment.

      It would also allow to switch the driver role with the “co-pilot”. Just another switch on the panel and the motorized mirrors adjust for the co-pilot…

      As for the commenter saying that it is very imprecise, I don’t think it should necessarily be like that. It depends on the feedback you get, both from real “G” forces as also from the joystick itself.

      1. Alaa says:

        You must have the breaks on one side only.

        1. Marcos says:

          The breaks would also be contolled with the joystick, as would the acceleration. 🙂

          As said, all the hardware and computers are suposedly already onboard for autonomous driving.

          1. Alaa says:

            Good idea

  4. Rick says:

    Like I said before and read through Elon Musk’s tweets, there is no evidence it’s a HUD. People are just assuming and speculating. Of course I’d like to have a HUD or some sort of display to show the basic info. I like the power meter in the e-Golf for instance, as if Apple had designed it. That’s still relevant when you go electric. All I’m saying is if people don’t care about how much range they’ve got, how much power is available, what speed they’re going and what’s the speed limit, at least leave some sort of a display as an option so those who care about speed etc. can see info instantly without wasting a second looking for it.

  5. jerryd says:

    I agree with David. I don’t mind the screen where it is, I just want speed, warnings I can see without taking my eyes from the
    road.
    But not mentioned is the steering wheel which might have these in it.
    I won’t be buying one as I build custom EV’s but with distracted driving becoming the safety issue now with more deaths than DUI’s, I don’t think it’ll be legal for long.
    could be an opportunity for an aftermarket product if they don’t have some way to see these while watching the road.

    1. marcel_g says:

      I currently drive a Nissan x-trail, which has all the instruments in the centre of the dashboard. I thought it was weird at first, but it quickly became normal and I don’t notice it anymore.

      It actually might be better to be in the centre, because my view of the instruments isn’t obscured by the steering wheel, and looking down to the right is really no different than looking down in terms of how long you take your eyes off the road.

      In some rental cars, the steering wheel is completely in the way, and I have to bend down to see the instruments, which is a much bigger PITA.

  6. Matthew Nelson says:

    Either 1. So advanced that it doesn’t need it or 2. something has to be cut to hit $35k.

    1. georges says:

      The dash completely quit in our Prius….and not only was it expensive it took a lot of time to get the part.

      I see this as a cost cutting move and a valid one at that.

      The issue of cost reduction is one that has not really been addressed so far in the press and Tesla has not really let out any secrets of how they are reducing costs on this car. Seems like a big deal. I’d love to know more!

    2. Speculawyer says:

      I suspect #2. It is really gard to build a 215 mile range EV for $35K. They have to cut wherever they can.

  7. jelloslug says:

    I would wait until I see the real product before flat out condemning the design. Just because you are used to one design does not mean that there is no better way to do it.

  8. Mike Colvin says:

    In the videos that I’ve seen, the speed readout is in the upper left-hand corner of the 15″ screen. Looks kinda busy with the navigation map displayed, though. I hope the UI changes on this to make it a little more readable at a quick glance.

    1. Kdawg says:

      Lol.. comments crossed.

    2. TomArt says:

      One of the drivers said that they have a long way to go with the GUI.

  9. Kdawg says:

    In one of the test ride videos, didn’t the Tesla driver say the speed would be displayed in the top-left corner of the 15″ screen?

    1. TomArt says:

      Yes, they said that much, but one of the drivers said beyond that, there is much left to do for the GUI.

  10. R.S. says:

    I guess it will come with some kind of HUD, turning right for a glance at the speedometer is just too impractical.

    And there are no real cost savings made, with leaving out a 6″ screen and replacing it with a 15″ screen in the center. Even if they had to buy an iPad mini 4 at full price and glue it behind the wheel, the additional cost would be $400, you would have a 16GB additional storage, a camera and a better dash than most cars.

    1. Mister G says:

      A plug for my smartphone behind steering wheel would be good enough for me as long as model 3 gets “real driving” 215 mile range and 0-60 in 3.2 seconds.

      1. georges says:

        The ultimate in low cost!!

      2. Speculawyer says:

        Works for me. There are some pretty good speedometer apps for smartphones.

  11. sveno says:

    My motorcycle has only a tach but I always know how fast im going: “safe”, “ticket possible”, “ticket for sure” and “very fast”

  12. Phr3d says:

    Item one) a car that (ignoring the ignored-at-the-time clay model) was Invisible until Release is a modern wonder.

    Item two) said engineers Must have been associated with item one, and their commentary will be affected by item one – and the part I of II (or more) anthology.

    item 3) If the dash looks remotely like the Alpha drivers shown, I will post a convenient address for every reader to come and kick my tired white buttocks – not gonna happen, nearly ANTI-Tesla in presentation, form and use-(less)-fulness

    and I’ll believe the hatch-less -when, and Only when- I take delivery. We’re in Chrysler-level of WTF with that
    can’t-get-it-done-for-reveal but-it-looks-plausible-so-let’s-run-with-it-cuz-no-one-will-complain-when-we-‘reveal’-the-final..

    trunk.

    1. Matthew Nelson says:

      BTW, you broke the record for using dashes in one post.

      As a Model 3 reservation holder, I have no problem with the trunk. I actually prefer a trunk to a hatchback due to the noise reduction. All the hatchback cars I have owned (including the Volt) suffer from road noise penetrating the passenger cabin.

      I actually feel that they are using this to differentiate the 3 from the Model Y which will have a CUV hatch.

      1. Phr3d says:

        dashes and content – pursuing humor, metheenks I failed, nothing new

        1. ffbj says:

          I am very familiar with that feeling, but keep trying. I have a broken speedometer, other than that I will look at the idiot lights on occasion and the temperature gauge.

          Gauges we don’y need no stinkin’ gauges.
          (My poor attempt at humor, feel better)?

          1. georges says:

            Gauges we don’y need no stinkin’ gauges.
            (My poor attempt at humor, feel better)?

            Worked for me 🙂

    2. Speculawyer says:

      I think the trunk decision is solid. That is a structural issue that seriously affects crash testing. They explained how they moved the support where the hatch would connect so they could provide the back seat better headroom.

      1. TomArt says:

        Exactly – even when they changed designs/suppliers for the Falcon Doors, the opening and hinge locations and angles didn’t change.

  13. Sammy says:

    I can lookup the speed on Waze on my phone. No thanks, but I don’t want an instrument panel in front of me. Moreover…there are tonnes of HUD products available these days. Let people choose what’s best for them. Just provide a hook-up for HUD.

  14. gizmo84 says:

    I’m a car enthusiast, i love the instrument panel in the model S. the single thing i dislike about the model 3 is the lack of instrument panel. i hate the mini cooper for this reason (where gauges are placed in the middle). I don’t want to have to turn my head to know the speed i’m going. just looking down is very ergonomic. a HUD would be even better. also the autonomous features are great. but the dashboard still needs to be there for when I am driving the car. This cant be a cost saving thing. a 7.9″ lcd for the ipad mini costs apple $80 and that has a touch screen. this might actually be a deal breaker for a lot of people. Tesla shouldn’t mess with the formula too much.

    1. Kdawg says:

      Yes, there’s a lot of detailed graphics the the driver display for the Model S, that I think wont translate to a HUD.

  15. scott franco (the evil EV owning republican) says:

    “The obvious explanation is that Tesla had to cut corners to bring the Model 3’s base price down to the promised $35,000″

    It is not a matter of just cutting costs. All of the engine gauges went full electronic years ago, and there is no real reason they have to be located directly in front of the driver, where you have to look around the steering wheel in any case. The center display is mounted high and in landscape mode, which means that the “virtual engine gauges” will be well within the FOV (Field of view) of the driver.

    Like other advanced features of the Tesla, this one is simply different, and people bitch about different. The trade off for this feature is a lower dash and more forward visibility, which I like.

    1. TomArt says:

      Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that what we see is (essentially) what we’ll get. Drivers in the videos stated about how forward visibility was improved, and that they were able to revolutionize the efficiency of the airflow through the vehicle by being able to put the vents in different locations thanks to the low/minimal dash.

      All of that tells me that it was thought through, and not a disposable option. When the one driver said that it was essentially production-ready, I believe it.

  16. Pete says:

    Interior looks like a kitchen board, only the screen saves a bit.

  17. AlphaEdge says:

    Wut, I can’t take selfies anymore while driving down the highway with my arm out the window directed back threw the windshield with that stupid hud in the way!

  18. PVH says:

    Tesla would just need to make a very basic head up display on the windscreen in front of the driver. A very few info would be sufficient, could even only be speed indication. Should not be very expensive. I am not worried about future model 3 sales figures, those should be excellent, but more about (lack of) cost control, Tesla being notoriously very average on that. So to me, no instrument panel is really a step in the right direction.

  19. Paul says:

    Different doesn’t means worse. Just getting used to.

    I’m a very visual person. I like to see the road, the view, the landscape. So I don’t like a HUD within my vision, I like a low dash and I dislike buttons and gauges everywhere. I think I would like the solution the 3 offers, but still I would need some getting used to.

  20. Jonathan B says:

    There is no way this is the final dash. They literally rushed to produce the car for the launch and stuck an iPad in the middle. I mean where are the air vents?! This is totally pre-production. I really hope it looks better than this.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      The entire area that is black on the dash is the vent. It goes across the whole dash.

    2. TomArt says:

      Listen to the drivers in the videos, and see my response to the evil EV republican above – it is carefully engineered and thought-through, it is not a disposable option or afterthought. This is it.

    3. TomArt says:

      Also, if you’ll notice the wallpaper images are all in the Fall timeframe – unless someone can spot some clever CG, I’d say that these cars have been built and tested for at least 6 months prior to the reveal.

  21. Trace says:

    Enough about the instrument cluster/iMac on the dash!

    Let’s talk about that GAWD awful 2 spoke steering wheel! Everybody knows 3 spokes are cooler!

  22. Mxs says:

    The lack of real dash in proper location will cost them sales, no question about it. But they surely know that and have done the risk assessment of that decision …. They have to play within the budget they put themselves against. Probably not the smartest idea in the hindsight ….

    People who prefer utility hatch and real dash will look elsewhere. Choices are good for consumers ….

  23. Jonathan says:

    Have they thought about any potential safety issues with the driver having to take their eyes off the road even to glance at the center screen for everything. I know it seems minor, but unless there’s a really great HUD that has the basics, this will get annoying.

  24. Spider-Dan says:

    I am disappointed in this trend to move controls to touchscreens that one must look at to operate.

    There is value in having controls comprised of buttons that you can use without having to look at them. This value is most pronounced in a car, where you want to avoid looking away from the road.