The problem with the Tesla Model S

Except it has one major flaw.

The entire dashboard is one giant touchscreen. “But hey, that’s so modern. So Tesla,” you might say. And you would be right – but this is where Tesla’s desire to distinguish itself from any old performance sedan ended up shooting itself in the foot.

Some interesting thoughts.

  • That giant touchscreen also includes a web browser that DOESN’T disable itself when the car is in motion. That’s a literal accident waiting to happen.

    • Not Sure

      Or people could be smart and not do stupid shit while driving.

      • Sadly, there’s no chance of that. 🙁

    • My smartphone doesn’t disable itself when I drive either. Your point?

      • freediverx

        Your smartphone is not an integrated component of an automobile.

  • charlesv

    This is the same reason i don’t buy the “all touchscreen” TV remote. I want to turn the volume down, flip channels, etc. while still watching, in the dark, without a 7″ light bulb in my face.

    • Agreed. I think my Denon’s remote strikes a good balance. Two touchscreens separated by physical buttons primarily for volume and channel changes. The most important, most often used features should be tactile. The thousands of other functions that are used occasionally can be demoted to the touchscreens.

  • Couldn’t agree more, I hate touchscreens in cars (and love my HUD).

    • I’m always surprised that HUDs on cars haven’t progressed faster and further. Seems like a brilliant way to give and process information.

      • There is a ridiculous amount of technology that car makers seem incapable of integrating, updating or making useful, despite decades of rapid advancement by other industry sectors. Vehicle UI first and foremost.

    • alex

      Touchscreens on current cars are same as touchscreens on phones pre-iPhone. Tesla is the iPhone. Not a valid comparison. Go drive one. Plus, steering wheel has buttons that can control nearly everything in the car, see here:

  • Oh God. Musk’s gonna to shit when he sees this. Prepare for engineer’s logs that show he never even used the touch screen and he drove around a car park eating a sausage roll for a whole hour.

  • tylernol

    I agree. I was thinking about a Model S last fall but there were two deal breakers for me: – not enought legroom for me (I am 6’5″) – the interior ergonomics and fit and finish were not to my liking, in particular the massive touchscreen. What would it be like driving with that touchscreen on a sunny day in Texas?

    I ended up with an Audi S4, my third Audi. Tesla should look closely at how Audi does their interiors, they are amazing.

  • Player_16

    One word comes to mind: “Skeuomorphism”. Apple has nothing on this.

  • the tesla scope is just the biggest example of a really stupid trend in automotive design. try the slightly smaller scale myford touch. a complete nightmare, not to mention repulsive and buggy as hell.

  • DanielSw

    If the touchscreen is such a horrible thing, why haven’t I seen scathing headlines about at least ONE of the 10,000-odd new Tesla Sedan S owner’s tale of woe?

    But go ahead, you perennial skeptics and exercise your freedom of speech! We certainly all need to be duly warned of yet more impending doom.

    • Not doom. Preference for an operating system that doesn’t have the potential to kill people if it’s not efficient or too distracting.

      • DanielSw

        Kitchen knives have the potential to kill people, and a number doubtless have. But they’ve benefitted far more and harmed relatively few for countless centuries.

        Tesla cars and their touch screens will do the same. These are the first iteration, as well, and will inevitably be refined and perfected with experience and customer feedback–despite you who insist on hanging crepe.

        • Oh, I have no doubt that Tesla will eventually benefit everybody with what it does; I’m a big fan.

          But I’m also of the opinion that a touchscreen isn’t the solution for every display problem, your straw-man example notwithstanding.

          • DanielSw

            So what IS your solution for this particular problem?

            Tesla has only started to prove its viability in its self-created market. Look at all the fools who doubted that the Apple iPhone or the iPad or for that matter the iPod would ever succeed.

            I admire Mr. Musk for his courage, intelligence, power, and vision, which have made this bold transition in the automotive industry actually happen.

            To question the wisdom of the new control interface without first trying it for one’s self, I consider to be quite detestable.

          • What problem are you referring to? One that’s already been solved? Or one that gives you something shiny to look at?

            Musk’s choice for dashboard control is admittedly interesting. But you’re saying we all must applaud every one of his decisions, regardless of whether any one of them might be overthought.

            “Detestable,” indeed.

          • DanielSw

            Ah shut up, Moesky.

          • Your repartee continues to impress. And you’re still awesome.

  • Actually the idea of a touchscreen dash appeals to me, depending on just what it is capable of. If I can configure it the way I wish, maybe adding a widget here or there to inform me of things as I drive — and not distract me more than changing the radio station or sipping my soda does — then I’m all for it. In fact, the Corning “Glass” video envisions something similar, with the dash being able to have profiles loaded according to who is driving or even passengers if the car isn’t in motion.

    I would much rather have people dealing with things on the dash in front of them than farting around with a HUD in some eyeglass thing or head down looking at their phone screens.

    • “not distract me more than changing the radio station or sipping my soda does”

      Problem is, you can do both of those things without taking your eyes off the road. Much harder to do with a touchscreen dash.

      “I would much rather have people dealing with things on the dash in front of them…”

      But that’s pat of the issue – the touchscreen dash isn’t in front of them. It’s down and to the right of the driver, necessitating taking your eyes off the road in order to use it.

  • The guy clearly never drove or was explained how to use a Tesla. Check first 5 min of this and see that you can control all major functions, even sunroof, via buttons on steering wheel: