Franz von Holzhausen Speaks To The Design Of Tesla Model 3
Automobile Magazine interviews Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s chief designer, about the Tesla Model 3.
We haven’t shared a whole lot from Automobile Magazine when it comes to the electric vehicle segment, probably because they haven’t really taken much notice … until now that is.
It came as no surprise when some of our readers admitted a lack of familiarity with the esteemed publication. Automobile proved huge success in the world of print auto journalism. In terms of web-based following, it may be a bit of a different story. Nonetheless, regardless of how the message gets out, it’s outstanding journalism that has garnered a high level of esteem.
For these reasons, we can look at this as incredible news that a highly-respected, top-notch auto journal has chosen a battery-electric vehicle (and one from a “new”, small, “niche”, and some would surely say “struggling” automaker) as its Design of the Year award recipient.
To be honest, we weren’t super surprised to see this honor from Automobile. While you may not remember, a year ago, the publication was already touting the upcoming car before having even driven it.
Automobile points out a few details about Franz before diving into the interview. It’s important to know that despite his name, he’s American-born (Connecticut) and raised. The chief designer spent time at GM, VW, and Mazda, with the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, and New Beetle Concept One on his short list. Franz (49) has two young children (3 and 5).
As of late, Franz has taken a bit more of a forefront role aside Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Some people suggest that when and if Musk decides to stand down from the top role at Tesla, von Holzhausen could become a key player or even lead the electric automaker.
Anyhow, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this story, shall we …
Though the interview was short and sweet, the chief designer shared some interesting information:
Automobile Magazine: What was the design brief for the Model 3?
Franz von Holzhausen: It was essentially customer-driven. They saw the Model S as a great car, but there was a desire for something 10 to 20 percent smaller, BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 size. We thought the $35,000 price point would work. We wanted five seats, more interior space, and to keep the fastback silhouette.
AM: What’s particularly special about the Model 3?
FVH: To keep the fastback profile, we eliminated the liftgate and used a normal trunklid. To keep a faster profile, we moved the structure ahead, to make sure the [head impact criteria] were all met. The big backlight is something we had experience with on the Model X windshield.
AM: When did you decide to totally eliminate the grille and front trim?
FVH: That was a long time coming. We made the early cars less distinct from rivals but slowly came to this solution of how to keep a premium sports feel friendlier and happier than the luxury S. We changed that car, too, modifying 200 to 300 parts when the S was restyled without the painted “shield.”
Follow the link below for more from Franz’ recent interview.