Tesla Patents Nifty Freestanding Seat Design

OCT 8 2017 BY C SMITH 17

The monopost design could make life easier for third-row passengers in SUVs and crossovers.

How often do you think about the seats in your car? Probably not that much, and when you do, we’d bet a fiver it’s either because you spilled something on them, or because your backside hurts after a 12-hour road-trip.

Comfort is certainly the primary mission of a good seat, but from an engineering standpoint, structural rigidity and performance during collisions make designing safe, functional seats something of a challenge. Perhaps that’s why Tesla’s recent patent application for a free-standing monopost seat is both impressive to behold, and complicated to understand.

Tesla Monopost Seat

The obvious question is why have a monopost seat over a standard design? The application background suggests such a design could save weight over traditional seats, while offering easier access to third-row seating in a crossover or sport-utility vehicle. Reading further into the summary and detailed description, the design allows the seat to move forward and backward on tracks at the base, and to also pitch up and down but not rotate. Adjustments can be made manually or electrically.

Since third-row seating typically offers little or no adjustment, this design would certainly give a bit more flexibility for people climbing in and out of the back seats. The monopost design could also create a bit more floor space, especially in the middle row for storage or a bit more legroom for rear passengers.

What makes the concept so complicated, however, is ensuring safety. Much of the patent application talks not about functionality, but how the design can handle the weight of passengers, and more importantly, how it can hold up in the event of a crash. That’s the little-known but extremely important world of seat design and engineering, and in that world, monopost designs generally aren’t so good. That’s why you don’t see them very often.

Whether or not this design will go into production is unknown. Many patents in the automotive realm don’t evolve beyond the drawing board, but we’ll give Tesla points for offering up a clever seat design.

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17 Comments on "Tesla Patents Nifty Freestanding Seat Design"

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What is wrong with the current two rail seat anchors that literally every other auto manufacturer uses? I’m all for innovation, but this just seems like being different for the sake of being different / fixing something that isn’t broken. This definitely isn’t the cheaper solution.

This seat, in the second row, gives your feet more room to get around, to get to the third row.

The entire article answers your question.

Assuming his comprehension skills are adequate

Unnecessary insult.

These Freestanding seats don’t appear to fold flat, therefore they would suck in a CUV/SUV application if you actually wanted use the Utility function of your Crossover-Utility Vehicle / Sports-Utility Vehicle.

Also, these Freestanding seats are already obsolete. They can only “move forward and backward on tracks at the base.” The seats in the lowly Honda Odyssey minivan can move sideways, in addition to forward and backwards. This allows for the addition of a third seat when needed, and more importantly allows the two seats to slide inwards until they are right next to eachother. Moving the seats inwards, further away from the doors, significantly increases safety by protecting the second-row occupants (usually children or babies) in T-bone collisions. The inwards motion also makes getting into and out of the 3rd-row seats much easier.

If you have only one child, you can move one of the outboard 2nd-row seats to the dead center position, the safest spot in the 2nd row since it is the furthest away from the doors and side impacts. The current Model X seats and the seats in the patent drawings above don’t move inward at all, leaving the 2nd row passengers perilously close to the doors in a T-bone collision.



If you had only one child, why would you buy a Model X? 3 row SUVs are basically a mini-van with a face job. One child families don’t drive such a big car.

look again.
It is pretty obvious to me that the back folds forwards.

The diagram looks like the seat back might fold forward, but the actual monopost seats in the Model X do not.

The article seems pretty vague about how recent this patent is. Is this a new design that Tesla actually intends to use to improve functionality? These days, most patents are filed for speculative/strategic purposes, without any intent of putting them into production.

“…these Freestanding seats are already obsolete. They can only ‘move forward and backward on tracks at the base’.”

Not true. The Model X “premium” monopost 2nd row seats also tilt forward and back.

But that would require paying attention and dropping his pre-concieved anti-Tesla bias on everything!

This “nifty” design is the design from the second row of the Model X. It’s the one they stopped using in their 7 seat config.

It’s not nifty at all. It’s annoying. Good riddance.

While I’m sure that 3rd row Model X passengers appreciate being able to slide their feet under the 2nd row seats easily, because the monopost frees up a lot of space down there, this is a very impractical design because the seat won’t fold forward, as is the usual case for free-standing car seats.

The fact that the seats (above the monopost) are a rigid, single piece, steals a lot of cargo space when you want to convert the rear end of the car to carry cargo instead of passengers. The design lacks flexibility and utility.

That leaves me rather less than impressed with Tesla’s engineering here.

My bass boat has had these for 20 years.

Is this not the existing monopost design from the Model X?

Waste of designers’ time…