Quoted: On design, Tesla and 'that iPhone moment'

“It’s like the leap of faith Apple took with the iPhone. There’s a cleanliness to the interior. The screen is the hero. We are in the midst of that transition toward a new way of thinking. For me, it’s that iPhone moment.”

Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s chief designer, on why the Model S has a 17-inch touchscreen console instead of physical buttons — and possibly, Tesla as a whole. (Speaking of iMoments, it’s easy to see why the Merc’s Dana Hull and others have likened the console to a giant iPad.) A Bloomberg Businessweek feature looks at “Why Everybody Loves Tesla” — their headline, not ours — and what’s next for the Palo Alto-based electric-car maker. Ten-year-old Tesla has had its ups and downs, but lately the high-profile company seems to be on a roll. CEO Elon Musk recently said the company’s Fremont factory was churning out more than 400 cars a week; he added last week that he expected production to reach 800 cars a week by the end of next year. Despite a stumble for Tesla shares this week after bearish talk from some analysts, they’re still up more than 250 percent so far this year. The Model S price ranges from $62,000 to nearly $90,000; meanwhile other electric-car makers are slashing their models’ prices. But back to the so-called iPhone moment: Tesla enthusiasts seem to feel the same way. “Fifty years from now, people will look back at Tesla and this event and say, ‘this is when the world changed,’ ” said Model S owner/Tesla investor Brian Steel at the first TESLIVE conference over the weekend.

 

Photo: A Tesla Model S with its touchscreen center console is shown at the TESLIVE conference in Milpitas last week. (LiPo Ching/Mercury News)

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4033 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).