Tesla has been sucking all the air out of all the rooms this week. It’s to be expected given the final reveal of their new Model 3. The biggest part of this reveal was what the Tesla Model 3 Interior was going to look like. After the presentation it was finally, fully released with some fantastic pictures.
We effectively saw the finished product way back in June. However no one could be sure that Ol’ Musky wasn’t going to pull a rabbit out of the hat and totally change it all up. So now it’s official and out in the wild (albeit only for a few lucky employees) we can have a deeper look at it.
Table of Contents
Model 3 Beginnings
To begin with you must understand where Tesla started with the Model 3. They see it as being a Fully Autonomous, Self-Driving L5 car. Sure, it may not be that right now but that’s just a temporary thing. Hopefully it should be rectified in 1-3 years depending on software development speeds. They’re looking towards the future which is very much what you should want them to do. People don’t buy cars for 1-2 years and then swap them out with a new plan like you do mobile phones. The average time most people keep their cars is upwards of 10 years, possibly 3-5 years if you lease.
So let’s assume within 3 years the Model 3 should be capable of L5 autonomy. The people buying the car now will still own their Model 3’s at that point. As such it’s a very smart move that they’re building it from that perspective now even if it might seem a little premature. Once you understand this critical point you can see how it’s triggered Tesla to start down a different design path. One that is radically different from the current car manufacturer’s interiors. It’s also the critical factor that will allow Tesla to do to the car industry almost exactly what Apple did to the phone industry.
Car, Meet Phone
Above we can see what was considered one of the top phones by Nokia in 2007 when Apple released their very first iPhone. Take note, the Nokia has many more buttons. It has many more features such as the critical 3G. Nokia had a huge audience to sell to as they were everywhere and well establish. Apple by comparison went exclusively through AT&T.
Everyone knew how to use the Nokia versus the extremely unique and different iPhone interface. Furthermore everyone loved those buttons! You could quickly speed dial someone. You could SMS without looking at the phone itself. Plus you had the oh so good tactile feedback on the key button press!
The iPhone doesn’t reign supreme in today’s world. Ten years later Android easily dominates but note that almost all phones have a very similar design to the iPhone. Big slabs of screens with no buttons. There are so many parallels to this turning point in both mobile phones and now cars that I’m just going to say it. Tesla is the new Apple.
Tesla Model 3 Interior – New vs Old
Apple took all the buttons, all the complex menus, all the styluses and changed things. They removed all the horribly disparate crap that plagued the then shitty mobile phone industry and made an entirely revolutionary step. It was a step in a completely different direction. A phone built from the ground up with new technology at its core. Other companies tried to instead jam that new technology into an old product from the past.
I’m not a huge fan of Apple products. However I do give them credit where it’s due. They reinvented phones and pushed everyone towards a much better world. This is precisely what Tesla is doing now.
Above is a direct comparison between a Tesla Model 3 and the latest BMW 3 Series. The BMW is quite nice as far as car interiors go, they can be far worse! However it’s incredibly complex, cluttered and has “technology” bolted on as an added extra. Its small screen is relegated to the upper back middle. It likely only shows base information such as woefully outdated maps or your radio station.
This is now officially the “Nokia” of car interior hardware. Tesla might not be dominating and own 80% of the market like Android does now with phones. But I can definitely see all other car manufacturers converging on something akin to the Model 3’s interior once we’re in 2027.
Complaints, Complaints, Complaints
Once again we hear complaints from people screaming that “cars need buttons because ____” . That the Model 3 lacks certain features that the BMW might have as standard like electric seats. It’s also pretty obvious that Tesla isn’t selling the Model 3 in the millions worldwide. Yet. Meanwhile BMW, Audi et al. all are.
Finally the Model 3 interface seems alien, spaceship like, too simplistic and nerve racking because it’s new. It’s so different and how does it all work? As I hope you can tell the parallels are amazingly identical to the comments, protests and circumstances that the first iPhone faced.
I predict that people will forget all about “needing buttons” once they see how clean and simple the Model 3’s screen and software are. Just like they did with the iPhone they’ll be amazingly happy that it just works. Once a person sits in it and pokes the screen for 5 seconds they’ll feel right at home.
It’ll be a breath of fresh air compared to the current car experience. Right now most people still don’t know what half those 400 cryptic physical buttons on your dash do (don’t pretend you know them all either). Robust and deep features that traditional car manufacturers already have are fantastic. But these features are irrelevant if no one can figure out which of the 400 buttons with bizarre iconography turns them on!
Tesla Model 3 Interior Software
I think I can speak for almost all people here, car software is atrocious. The navigation, the entering in addresses, pairing you phone, the graphics everything is just abysmal. This is in every car I’ve ever seen or been in. Seriously, just look at them all!!
It’s like a 4 year old edited some graphics in paint and then barfed neon all over them. They’re still producing and selling this crap today, in 2017! I’m not saying that it should be identical to Android/iOS as cars are different. Cars need different requirements but I think even the car makers themselves have lost hope now. That’s why we’re now seeing them sell Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Car Play as features instead of promoting their own abominations.
I hope you also see the similarity between the clunky, out of date software current cars have and the clunky, out of date software Nokia’s had. Again when we contrast this with the Model 3 you don’t see 10 year old graphics. You don’t get out of date navigation systems or tiny squished screens with interfaces that lag. No, you get modern software that stays modern with OTA updates. You get a far bigger screen with beautiful graphics and text. Iconography that is meaningful, clear and consistent with other software we use day to day.
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I have no doubt that the Model 3’s software will have bugs and quirks. Doing some minor things with it might not be as efficient as just pressing that 1 physical button on a traditional car. But I am absolutely thrilled that Tesla have taken such a bold and courageous step. These minor growing pains will pale in comparison to how much better using Tesla software will be than traditional cars.
I love the huge screen, I love the beautiful UI and UX, I love that there are no more infuriating buttons. I love that because it’s all software based it means you’ll likely be able to control and monitor all aspects of the car remotely. It’s what I’ve wanted cars to look like and be since mobiles showed us the proper way to interface with people back in 2007-2010. Simple interfaces that control very powerful features. I also can’t wait to see where Tesla takes us next because if this is their “first shot” at it, then we haven’t seen anything yet!
What do you love about it most? What aren’t you too sure of and how do these concerns compare to when the first iPhone came out? Let us know in the comments below!
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