2018 Tesla Model S and 2018 Tesla Model X
Apparently the problem with the Tesla Model S and Model X was that they’re too normal.
They have a separate instrument cluster—a digital one—behind the steering wheel and a few solid controls. Tesla must think that’s too much.
The company is designing a new interior for them that looks a lot like the one in the Model 3, first reported by Electrek.
2017 Tesla Model S
Electrek reported it had received internal company documents and photos that show drawings of the new interior with a large, horizontal touchscreen mounted in the center of the dash and a band of hidden climate-control vents running the width of the dash, just as in a Model 3.
A patent application dated in mid-June confirms that Tesla is planning to implement an electronic control system for the air vents in the Model S and Model X, similar to the way the Model 3 works.
The concept images show a touchscreen that looks bigger than the Model 3’s 15-inch screen, with no visible frame or bezel. It’s unclear whether these pictures are drawings or photographs of the actual screen sitting in a mocked-up interior, so it’s unclear whether the frameless design could make it to production.
2018 Tesla Model 3
Unlike the Model 3, the Model S and Model X will retain a small instrument cluster recessed into the top of the dashboard behind the steering wheel almost like a head-up display screen, although a small hood over the screen would indicate that drivers are meant to view it directly through the steering wheel, rather than on the windshield.
The images show the second screen displaying speed and other information, though that information is also shown on the center screen.
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The company is likely making the change for two reasons: First, to save money. With a single dashboard design, the company’s software interface engineers won’t have to design two versions of the cars’ controls, one vertical and one horizontal, as they do now.
Second, the move may be meant to prepare the cars’ interiors for autonomous driving.
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Along with the new floating-screen dashboard, the documents show Tesla’s more expensive models are supposed to get upgraded interior materials and seats.
Critics have long remarked that the cars’ interior materials are unfit for $80,000 to $130,000 luxury cars. The new interior will also incorporate a wireless phone charger and offer improved interior storage, addressing another long-time complaint.
The update is scheduled to arrive in about a year, so buyers who enjoy a few physical controls in their cars might do well to look at 2018 models.