It’s Re-Think Time For Some Things At Tesla

1 year ago by Tesla Mondo 36

Tesla's Elon Musk (Shown Here From Hong Kong In January)

Tesla’s Elon Musk (Shown Here From Hong Kong In January)

TIME FOR SOME RE-THINKS

Quick — What version of Model S is that?*

Quick — What version of Model S is that?*

If TeslaMondo ran Tesla, it would call a high-level meeting, and it would go something like this:

“Okay, folks. It’s time for a revamp, of, um, basically everything. First, our web presence. Tesla.com redirects to Teslamotors.com. And Teslaenergy.com redirects to Teslamotors.com/powerwall. These online detours indicate a lack of cohesion. It’s time to back up and ask a few fundamental questions:

1. What are we called? Tesla? Tesla Motors?
2. What do we offer? Cars? Batteries?
3. How do we funnel people where they want to go? If we were an airport, we’d be out of business by now.”

“Next subject is Model S. We’re about three years into the current design. True, the car is still novel most parts of the world, and the OTA updates boost our shelf life for sure, but we should touch the styling a bit. Model X now represents the latest and greatest EV, and it’s unashamedly mouthless, grille-less, intake-less. That’s the new language of premium electric vehicles, as written by us. Model S is speaking another, older language. As we plan a refresh, we should think about losing the fake nose and coming out of the closet as an EV. Enough masquerading.”

“Also, BMW’s ‘M’ division and Mercedes’ ‘AMG’ division use subtle styling differentiation to create a hierarchy. By comparison, Teslas have no visual hierarchy. They all look pretty much the same. This boosts the status of the cheapest versions, but at the expense of the high end. We’re basically communists. Do we want that?”

“For Model III, what if we did a massive Easter egg hunt for a handful of III prototypes we’ve stashed here and there? This could be a literal or a virtual hunt. Maybe we ‘hide’ them online, somewhere obscure? Or we stash an actual prototype, perhaps only the shell, in the middle of nowhere? This could be a real-life, role-play adventure game and another nod to gamers.”

And at this point, men in white suits would burst into the room with a very long-sleeved jacket. Meeting adjourned.

* Turned out to be a lowly 85, without even a P.

*Editor’s Note: This and countless other Tesla-related posts appear at TeslaMondo. Check it out here.

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36 responses to "It’s Re-Think Time For Some Things At Tesla"

  1. Mark says:

    Don’t waste time on the S revamp… Its still world class. 100% focus on X ramp up, X quality control, and Model 3 development. Supercharger network supposed to expand substantially this year, and gigafactory should start producing some cells too. Lots to do!

    1. Dragon says:

      Indeed. Body redesigns are a waste of the limited manpower available at the company. With Apple and Faraday and whoever stealing employees and potential employees, Tesla has 1600+ job openings they’re struggling to fill. They had to pull staff from service centers back to the factory just to make their numbers at end of 2015. We need the model 3 revolution asap, not design tweaks and web site changes.

  2. Anon says:

    The Model III can’t look stylistically “cheap” or like a discounted S at the Dollar Store. Other automakers commonly do this with their less expensive offerings…

    I vote for Communism.

    1. SparkEV says:

      Communism! LOL!

      There’s something appealing about quiet performance. Speak softly, and carry a big stick. I like it that Tesla keeps it toned down, not including falcon doors. I hope Model3 will also be muted in appearance and deliver performance that’s nothing like its humble looks.

      1. ffbj says:

        Yeah that was a good one.
        Don’t turn around.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNHkWrUcLvU

    2. Rick Danger says:

      I think he was speaking about there being no quick, easy to see differentiation between the lower and upper versions of the Model S, not the looks of the Model ≡ as a model line. Of course, the same would apply to the lower and upper versions of Model ≡ when they arrive.
      There are several styling cues that set an M3 apart from a regular 3 series BMW,I think that’s what he was getting at.

      1. SparkEV says:

        I like it that P90DL looks pretty much like S60 (or S40).

        1. Rick Danger says:

          I think the point he was making is that it benefits the lower end owners at the expense of the P90DL drivers, who spent much more $$ for their Teslas 🙂
          I don’t peruse the Tesla forums, but I haven’t heard any rumblings from upper tier Model S owners regarding this. Is it even a big deal to them?

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            I certainly won’t claim nobody on either the official Tesla Motors forum or the Tesla Motors Club forum has never made such a complaint; those are very high-volume forums and I make no attempt to read all of their discussion threads.

            But I don’t recall ever seeing such a complaint in the posts I have read.

      2. martinwinlow says:

        Yes, and it’s called ‘subtlety’ – not something (if you’ll forgive me for saying) that the US auto industry has traditionally been very good at. But for me it goes a long way to sum up exactly what a revolutionary company like Tesla is really all about… just like SparkEV says (above). MW

    3. comrade sven says:

      Comrade Anon said: “I vote for Communism.”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CaMUfxVJVQ

      1. SparkEV says:

        OMG! Best laugh I had in weeks. 🙂 Thank you comrade. I guess it is like Tesla S.

      2. Rick Danger says:

        My Favorite Commercial of All Time Comrade! 😀

    4. mike w says:

      +1 in this case

  3. JRMW says:

    No. No. No.

    Focus on fixing Tesla X issues (quality control, distribution, etc)
    If X fails, Tesla fails.

    Put 100x the effort into model 3.
    It is the entire reason for the company.

    And for GOD’S SAKE, lose the Falcons on the 3. Keep it simple.

    You can bring them back when the kinks are worked out on the X and you have a little breathing room.

    We can’t risk another rollout fiasco.

  4. Dave S. says:

    I’d love to see a refreshed face on the model s. I would imagine Tesla is working on a new front clip without the nose cone as we speak. The rest of the car is fine and a new nose would allow more life from the current design.

    1. Anon says:

      Yeah, it’s time for a refresh, and bringing some things X and S, closer together… Update the interior, computer, sensor array, etc.

      That said, I would prefer a more Porsche-like snoot, than the nose of the X. Perhaps a 50/50 blend that won’t hurt S sales in being too radial from the current design. Even something similar (with more tasteful, smaller lower intakes than these):

  5. Chris O says:

    Babysteps…100 years of ICE has shaped the way people have come to expect a car to look: long hood where the engine is (the longer the hood, the sportier the car as it suggests a large engine amongst other things)and lots of intakes and exhausts to cater to all that raw power. EV makers that go for a high performance image can’t just ditch all those paraphernalia of internal combustion prowess and expect sales not to suffer. So grill simulating nose cone and “frunk” it is….

    1. Rick Danger says:

      Taking the nose cone off of the X gives them the perfect chance to get feedback on both.
      Of course, many people who hated the nosecone didn’t like it when they removed it either :/

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Speaking only for myself, I think the nosecone looks fine, and that nose of the Model X looks like it’s missing something.

        “Your mileage may vary”, and de gustibus non disputandum est.

  6. Nemo says:

    They only just got hold of tesla.com, so of course they’re going to redirect it to their established site, teslamotors.com. And the Powerwall is pretty much a side-line, at least for now.

  7. pjwood1 says:

    I think TeslaMondo has it wrong. It isn’t style issues. It’s conventional issues, like thinking everybody likes tossing out ergonomics, for the fancy screen. Electric drive captures lots of customers this company takes for granted.

    Grade the Model S, or the company, on a 4 year since birth curve, and it is time to raise expectations on wipers, seatbelts, screen access, charge programming, consoles and a lot of other simple things one could go on about. The company needs to mature in some simple areas, that the “nosecone”, or URL-preference people are crazy to overlook. Just my opinion.

    1. sven says:

      Yeah, like a second-row middle-seat fold-down cup holder, instead of that wedge that you semi-permanently affix to the middle seat or the leather straps that will hold a cup bellow the seat next to your ankles.

  8. jerryd says:

    They should focus now on the 3, a pickup, SUV and van versions.
    Once the chassis is done, the rest is fairly easy bring out one/yr.

    1. eco Logical says:

      I agree, I’m looking for an electric pickup that can be camperized or an electric van that can be converted to a motorhome/RV.

      1. jerryd says:

        Eco, buy an UltraVan and convert it to EV.

  9. Stuart22 says:

    Refreshing the S with an X-like front won’t help. I think the shape of the nose cone works together with the headlights and lower intakes/parking lights to give the S a bit of a badass, don’t-mess-around-with-me personality.

    The X front end is passionless. Blank. A mistaken nod to the mid-60’s Corvair.

    The Model S would best be served by small, barely visible styling changes – it’s too perfect as it is. Getting a nose job would disturb its image.

    1. sven says:

      The X front end is not passionless. It’s a homage to a famous 70’s TV star.

      http://www.70slivekidvid.com/sigmund/sigmund2.jpg

  10. Jacked Beanstalk says:

    I’ve always thought the Model S looked sleek and sporty but it lacked the je nais se qua of a $100K car. In my estimation the Fisker Karma is the benchmark for the passion and awe a $100K + sedan should invoke.

    That said, Tesla can sell all the Model S sedans they can build, so the styling is apparently good enough.

    If I were running Tesla, I would do the following:

    1. Implement Deming’s quality control practices that have worked so well for Japanese manufacturers with the goal of making Teslas the highest quality autos on the market within 10 years. All engineering and design would prioritize quality and reliability above all else

    2. Delay Model 3 release until quality at least matches that of Chevrolet. Maybe Tesla has already done so but some of the available quality survey’s suggest otherwise.

    3. Lose the Falcon Wing doors on the Model 3 crossover. They add unecessary cost and reduce reliability.

    4. Hire whoever designed the Fisker Karma to style the next generation of Teslas. First project: Roadster 2.0

    5. Hire a team of junkyard dog lawyers to break the dealership monopoly in all 50 states.

    1. Rick Danger says:

      Didn’t Fisker do the basic design of the Model S? His relationship with Tesla didn’t end well, as I recall.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Fisker was hired by Tesla to design the Model S. I don’t know how much or how little influence Fisker had on the finished product.

        Tesla didn’t sue Fisker until Fisker started promoting the Karma; Tesla claimed that Fisker stole a lot of their ideas and/or styling. See article linked below.

        Personally, I find the Karma to be rather garish, and the Model S to be a much better looking, much “sexier” car. But that’s just my subjective opinion.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/technology/15tesla.html?_r=0

        1. Jacked Beanstalk says:

          Thanks, I didn’t know that. I definitely agree that some of the design elements of the Fisker Karma are a bit garish, but I find the overall form and lines sexier than those of the Model S.

  11. wavelet says:

    Making sure Tesla.com points to Tesla Motors is sensible (and no, the Company shouldn’t be called just Tesla. That’s hubris — Nikola Tesla whom the company was named after was responsible for a lot more important things than just cars. A Tesla without a qualifier is the scientific SI unit for magnetic field strength, and has been since 1960. I’m pretty sure it can’t be
    copyrighted or trademarked for that reason.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_%28unit%29

    Other than that, every single republished article I’ve seen here from TeslaMondo was silly, shallow, fanboi stuff, and I wish InsideEVs would stop treating them as a worthwhile source for anything except actual facts or first-person experiences.

    No, after a less than a couple of 100K cars on the road, The S does not need a redesign.

  12. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “Next subject is Model S. We’re about three years into the current design. True, the car is still novel most parts of the world, and the OTA updates boost our shelf life for sure, but we should touch the styling a bit.”

    No, absolutely not!

    One reason why I respect Tesla is that they do not do meaningless style changes from year to year. We haven’t seen that since the VW Beetle! And that’s one reason why used Model S’s hold their value so well; because visually you can’t tell the model year just by looking at one. As I recall, the Beetle also held a remarkable resale value, likely for the same reason.

    Another reason most auto makers do style changes that have no functional purpose is to keep manufacturing runs low, so they can justify sky-high prices on “genuine” replacement parts. Note that also helps their dealers make money on selling such parts.

    Again, one of the reasons I respect Tesla is that they don’t pull that underhanded, shady feldercarb.

  13. Lunguuks says:

    Well, I do not agree to this. Does any 911 regardless of age look outdated? There is more demand for S than production capacity. Also I like that all models of S are almost identical from looks, I can drive the P85D and look kind of modest. Model S is and should stay as modern classics for EV-s. Minor updates in looks maybe after some years, but better tech and range. Dropping RWD looks inevitable, already from reliability of drivetrain.

  14. Bret says:

    I’m glad Elon Musk is running Tesla and not TeslaMondo. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, but creating and producing an entirely new category of products is a lot harder than criticizing someone from behind a keyboard. Tesla has executed brilliantly where many of their competitors have failed.

    They’ve only had the Tesla.com domain for a week or two, so it’s no big surprise that it forwards to the existing website. Besides they are a car manufacturer, not a dotcom.

    I agree with most of the comments that Tesla should focus on the Model X and 3, instead of a refresh of the S. It is still the best selling EV in the US and sells well all over the world. They have a year or two before a refresh is necessary.