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)


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  • Dewey Finn

    Mr von Holzhausen, the Tesla designer, is proud of the fact that the Model S has a 17″ touchscreen console instead of physical buttons. But how is one supposed to use this console while driving? I can reach out and manipulate the physical buttons in my old-fashioned car without looking.

    • JOMA’MA

      Dear miss Finn

      Sure you can “reach out and manipulate the physical buttons in my old-fashioned car without looking”.

      Thats why it is your old mouse trap, pretty sure it was not like that when you first got that paper weight.