Another Instagram Artist Strikes Again for Us to Contemplate What Changes Should Come on Model S
Images of front, side, and rear black and gray Model S render courtesy emrehusmen.com and Instagram. Model S steel cage and Model 3 interior courtesy Tesla.
Introduced in 2012, the current Tesla Model S 1st generation (by auto industry standard), or third generation (by Tesla’s standard in 6 years of production) is not scheduled for replacement until sometime in 2021. In the meantime, the car has gone through some changes to keep it interesting and appealing:
- -An exterior refresh was done to the car back in 2016.
- -An interior refresh is scheduled for 2019, most noteworthy will be harmonization of the Model 3 minimalist interior and touchscreen into both S and X, but with more premium features and surfaces than Model 3.
- -Tesla is doing this interior update to integrate Tesla design language into the entire range, prepare for autonomy, and to cut costs.
- -Tesla doesn’t cycle generations of product line models like the legacy car makers do. As soon as a new feature or update is available it’s put right into the car on the assembly line, as opposed to car makers who wait until the next refresh.
- -Like it was with the EV camper, another design artist rendered an Instagram concept of possibly what a version of a new generation Model S might look like.
- -The Instagram concept looks so close to the current generation, it could be considered another refresh.
- -What other changes would we like to see on the Model S?
Once again another vehicle designer has rendered a concept of a Tesla vehicle and posted it on Instagram recently that it went viral to start a conversation about the designs of Tesla’s cars, and what a timeline might be for upcoming changes for their flagship models S and X. These two cars that are the flagship of the Tesla fleet recently have been overlooked in media circles due to the rollout and ensuing controversies of Model 3.
However, this rendering of the Model S has reminded Tesla owners and fans that now that there is a growing range of different models and vehicles of all shapes, sizes, and even purposes, it is now important for the brand to pay close attention to its styling, architecture, identity, language, mission, and themes to make sure each model complements each other in some way within the range. With a luxury brand it’s not about the model. it’s about the brand itself. But your flagships and halos help with brand identity. It’s a fine line.
What it Means to be a Flagship and a Halo Car
Its first full production vehicle in its model range introduced in 2012, the Tesla Model S has become not only the brand’s iconic flagship sedan and vehicle, but as it is now so closely identified with the company, the Model S is also becoming Tesla’s halo car in many ways.
The Model S is to Tesla what the S Class is to Mercedes Benz, and with the many AMGs, Gullwings, SLs, etc. that Mercedes may have, the S Class is Mercedes’ signature halo car. The Mercedes S stands for Sonderklausse, or “Special Class.” At the Sindelfingen plant in Germany, an appointment has to be made to assemble one, and special plant workers come off the line from E Class assembly, to assemble an S Class. It is an honor. That’s how sacred Daimler treats its most holy grail. I hope that as it gains equal status that it’s already becoming, that Tesla treats its halo car the same way.
Please Tesla, don’t throw this car under a bus the way Ford shamefully threw its iconic Lincoln Continental away! I often say if the 747 is the Queen of the Skies, then the Mercedes S Class is the Queen of the Roads. I hope Tesla makes it its mission to prove me wrong. I want to see an American Queen hold court in both the skies and on the roads. The Model S is our best hope. Let’s treat her that way. She is becoming automotive royalty. You limit production. You don’t outright cancel. Halos weren’t made or built to be moneymakers. If they do, so much the better. Halos are made to enhance the brand image.
Brand Identity and Styling Cues: the 2016 Refresh
In the case of the Model S, its design and styling has defined not only what a Tesla vehicle is or should be like, but also what future Tesla vehicles will look like, starting with the next car in production after S, that’s the Model X, the full size/mid size gullwing CUV variant, and the Model 3 executive sedan thereafter. Even the new Tesla Roadster and Tesla Semi take cues in some way from the Model S and 3, that the first Roadster, which actually was the first car Tesla built though in limited numbers, does not leave any kind of obvious lasting Tesla design impression for Tesla posterity. The first Roadster didn’t have to, because no other Teslas existed to establish what their brand identity would be, other than logo placement and badging. That was left to the next model for full production, the iconic Model S.
You can tell this was obviously important during the 2016 Model S refresh. For its first refresh Tesla toned down the black plastic radiator grill look up front and harmonized the grille-less design language look from the upcoming Model 3 and Semi, to integrate into the front of the Model S. They were preparing the Model S to introduce design cues of what was to come for both new vehicles.
But the Tesla logo badging is still prominent. The front and rear deck areas are cleaned up and simplified. There are less chrome accents on both ends, but you wouldn’t have noticed as the car is even sleeker and shinier with the update anyway.
Features that Make a Model S a Tesla
From its rear hatch four door fastback utility sedan or sports saloon configuration, front and rear storage compartment space including the “frunk,” its ingenious optional removable third row seating in the rear hatch for children or very small adults, its signature vertical 12” tablet display screen on the dash used as a center stack, its top of the line P100D performance model equipped with “Ludicrous Mode,” and its signature adaptive cruise control software suite known as “AutoPilot,” the Tesla Model S in its current model platform in production for the past six years continues to be a strong seller worldwide as if the car is newly introduced.
Model S has left an indelible mark on history as the first American full production all electric BEV to go global and certainly one day soon to become an exhibit in many auto museums around the world in a matter of time. The Model S is a halo in many ways already that it is safe to say that whatever radical redesign of the next Model S platform may or may not bring, at least most of those features and styling design cues mentioned above are a must-have in the next generation model.
These are the attributes of what makes a Model S a Model S, and thus a Tesla a Tesla, whatever the model is that you are referring.
Because Tesla is a small company with a limited budget compared to the legacies with a model range of only four cars so far that have run through some kind of production cycle, one finished its life cycle in one generation thus far, with a proposed three additional new ones on the way, a fourth still in concept mode (that’s the pickup), Tesla has taken steps to ensure that its current model lineup including the Model S stays fresh and interesting looking without expending too much work or money.
The car seems to have been designed purposefully and knowingly that it would have a long life cycle before refreshed or replaced, to ensure its lines stay fresh and appealing as the car gracefully ages with time. And it has. With the exception maybe being Jaguar presently and debatable, no serious competition is being offered foreign or domestic against the Model S until next year with the Porsche electric rollout, and with the tax credit pullback eating into higher prices, it’s obvious that Tesla is in no rush to make changes to its flagship.
Tesla needs to be careful with marketing and costs now that their customers no longer have a substantive tax rebate like they once had, that their competition just started to. So whether it’s a new customer or a regular one is coming in for a trade-in, consumers have to factor into their decision how much and how important is that option or upgrade to have, because it’s going to cost extra without or with less tax credit.
It’s All an Experiment: Trying out all Different Configurations to see What Works
Over the years different variants and configurations have been offered, some on a limited basis to make them rare or unusual, some features offered on a limited basis to then no longer have them available. Sometimes Tesla does this to mix things up a bit, sometimes for themselves to actually see firsthand what works and what doesn’t. An example of this was back in 2015 in the US market when a large rear center console and arm rest was offered for backseat passengers, to put the rear seat into a two passenger executive saloon seating configuration. It lasted for only a year, why they got rid of it we may never know because it is popular in other cars and brands, particularly in the larger segments, and you know those Model S cars that have it out there are rare.
Tesla especially likes to make different engineering configurations, from different sized motors and battery packs, to different drivetrain configurations, sometimes have a finite production run of some examples, others to end the run and bring it back a model year or two down the road. It sometimes even retards the output of a particular power plant through a software limiter, for a customer to pay extra to have extra range or power unlocked for availability. Tesla likes to constantly redefine what its base or entry level Model S variant is over the years, whether starting with the 60, 70, or 75 kWh motor. It even does the same on the opposite end with the top range models. “Ludicrous Mode” was once offered in the 85D Model. You can only get it now with the top of the line P100D variant. It makes it appear that Tesla is constantly making changes to its lineup without retooling the factory or changing the stampings on outer body panels or the platform frame. Pretty clever sometimes.
The Elusive Model S LWB (Long Wheelbase)
What has always bothered the hell out of me is why Tesla never offered a LWB variant of this car. Over the years as we went along in the Tesla experience, it seems the car was always begging for an LWB. As popular as it is on a Mercedes S platform that the LWB variant of the S Class is the only variant sold in North America, most Americans probably don’t even know that a SWB S Class exists. I think a LWB version of Model S would be a smash.
Tesla purists may not agree, but the company needs to make money, and an LWB should be available for those who want it, and if you disagree, well you don’t have to buy it.
If you are the parent of at least a pair of teenagers and don’t always want to drive an SUV, or don’t want to drive at all, period, to sit in the back and let them do it while you observe, then you get it. And if fear of having a larger tray of even more batteries would compromise handling of a heavier car, I say the lower center of gravity mitigates that issue. It would be nice to extend the range even longer with an even larger tray sitting under a longer wheelbase, but it may not be necessary with the range we already got.
I think the extra rear legroom would be worth it and would add not much weight to the car. Any serious flagship global sedan should have a variant like this available at least as an option, that Mercedes makes it standard for North Americans. That backseat or when folded down, the rear hatch, would become even more comfortable and cozier with even more room with a pillow and a blanket, especially in “CamperMode.”
Model S Perfect for Armored Duty
LWB is another way the company could have a money making variant for wealthier customers without spending too much on product development. I also never realized until I covered that story on the Model S security vehicle, how literally bunkered down a Model S is with that battery tray in its present form. It’s protected and reinforced already to reduce the possibility of the tray being punctured or compromised by road debris.
The low center of gravity a Model S has, added with that heavy battery tray with reinforced steel around it, you actually have at least somewhat of a fighting chance if you should roll over a road pipe bomb or a mine. The car is really difficult to flip over. Hardening the tray further against ballistic attack becomes even easier. They just have to figure out how to harden computer functioning against a electro magnetic nuclear pulse to avoid rendering the ECU or computer brain useless.
But look who you’re dealing with, right in the heart of Palo Alto, you couldn’t ask for anyone better to figure this stuff out! I just wonder sometimes if they understand what they’re truly capable of doing, because supernerd computer techies don’t normally build cars beyond CAD. Tesla now does, and have experience now doing it. They can do a good job of doing this if they knew what they had to do to make this all possible.
The Model S really does make for an excellent security vehicle, and I bet if Tesla did the “hardening” process themselves to add their own ballistic protection, the process would be cheaper for global customers if done at the factory, and Tesla would make a ton of even more money customizing their cars and making bullet, bomb, and nuclear/bio-weapon gas attack proof cars in different grade levels up to VR6 or 7, like the Specialty Vehicles Unit at GM, and the Mercedes Benz Guard Department at Daimler, as it does with the Guard Line. A Tesla Security Vehicles Section would be another cash cow, and South American, Middle East, Eastern European, and South Asian customers would love it.
Another Instagram Artist with a Cool Concept
So with an exterior refresh out of the way and two years later to present, Tesla via Elon has stated there is no plan for a another upgrade to either Model S or X, an interior refresh is not coming until probably next year (more on that below), and a new generation platform model for either flagship car won’t come until 2021. Experience dictates that when Elon changes plans or scales down a proposal, some artist goes into social media to get people to start thinking of other possibilities and/or what could have been. We saw this happen when Elon changed his pickup truck plans to put Tesla Semi back to sole tractor trailer duty when he decided that if Tesla should make an electric pickup, it really should be a Ford F-150 fighter and not just a Topkick killer.
So an automotive designer in Spain rendered an image that went viral when uploaded on Instagram. That’s when we were introduced to the Tesla Semi 8 RV Camper. Who would have thought? Something similar is happening with images of a Tesla Model S floating over Instagram.
The images are called Tesla Model S “next generation,” and were apparently rendered by someone either in Los Angeles or Linz, Austria with an Instagram account entitled “emrehusme,” a Turkish Canadian. According to what appears to be the artist’s account, the image was made exclusively for Electroautomobil Magazine. Based on hashtags the artist used, it’s possible that an iPad was used with hardware like a Wacom Cintiq drawing pen with software used like KeyShot, and 3D rendering software with Photoshop and/or 3ds Max to polish the final product.
You can tell whoever did these renderings knows car design pretty well, and studied what’s coming out of the Tesla Design Studio since Franz von Holzhausen started holding court as Tesla design chief at startup to now leave a design legacy that has a good chance of becoming multi-generational like Harley Earl did when he held court at GM as design chief in the 1940s and 50s. You can thank Harley Earl for the integrated tail light treatment on an Escalade and even on an XT4. That’s his tail fins on Caddys that went into the 60’s.
From the title of the pictures to careful examination of the images, it is quite clear that this is an artist’s concept or interpretation of von Holzhausen’s design and what the next generation of an all new and next new platform might possibly look like as a future Model S. This concept has a lot of Model 3 DNA and that’s a good thing about Model S’ little sister, as curvaceous as she is, here she brings more curves and racey lines to her big sister’s proposed profile. Bringing in Model 3 cues reminds me of how Mercedes brings E Class into the picture when an all new S Class emerges.
Assessment of the Instagram Renderings
The 2016 refresh carries over to this rendering of the next generation model as the front fascia grille modifications are still prominent but still not overwhelming. I’m glad the artist did this because Tesla needs to be consistent about how they style the grille across the line. The grille isn’t the feature that’s overtaking, it’s the air intake at the bottom of the grille area that’s larger than usual. The headlights are obviously upgraded and remind me of the upcoming new Tesla Roadster. I’m drawn to that but I also really like the headlights on the Model 3 to hope the next style Model S would adopt them. I can flip a coin.
This version of the car pictured would make a perfect looking performance variant of the Model S, especially in black livery. And I hope that one day Tesla will be able to sell the car that way other just changing the wheels and boot badging. But styling cars that minimalist way is how Tesla brands itself. It’s all about understatement and minimalist effect. But on the other hand, I do know that Tesla likes to make limited and special edition of things to spin them out and promise not to make it that way ever again, or for company board members or coveted stockholders. Tesla is 15 years old, and if all goes well, their 20th anniversary is right around the corner, begging for an Elon Musk special edition with his signature embroidered on the seats like Bentley is doing with Wonderkid Founder W.O. Bentley for their 100th anniversary.
It would be nice to see the car get some kind of AMG treatment to set it apart from other variants, but I do like the sleeper effect of just putting “P100D” on the deck lid to let the reader figure out the significance of that designation as they’re driving or walking by. I’m starting to get to know Model S customers at least better as I started focusing on electric vehicles, and this rendering is probably not conservative enough for a good chunk of them.
One of the things they like about the S is that it has a nice combination of modern athletic sleekness and elegantly reserved styling that ages the car gracefully. You can have the car chauffeured and show up at the opera in a tux, or the next day go to the flea market in jeans and look fabulous at either venue with your car. Either the owner or their teenaged or adult son or daughter could drive this present car proudly and not be embarrassed inside it. So this possible version of a proposed car needs to be toned down for a standard version, especially the profile and front fascia with those extremely large air intakes. I get it with the interior, but the same applies: curved screens aren’t necessary but the point is well taken. The first priority of a big screen is that there’s minimal glare and doesn’t bog the driver down with too much info and too much tapping.
The rear deck lid reminds me too much perhaps of an Audi A7, and is probably a competitor model of some kind, but the deck lid is a distraction of the fact that the A8 flagship is the target vehicle, not necessarily the A7. It’s nicely done, I actually like the integration of the rear swoop, but perhaps more Tesla and less Audi style would help.
Last but not Least: Upcoming Interior Changes to S and X
The issue I leave last for us to chew on about Tesla style is the interior, because that’s the only thing that’s definitely going to change from now until the end of Generation #1’s (or #3’s) life: The end of next year will see some big if not drastic changes to the interior of the car, and Model X too, that I leave out more here in this story because the changes are essentially the same for both cars. What we saw the last two years happening on the outside of the model line will definitely see changes on the inside for harmonization of styling cues and to keep uniformity.
Hopefully with the lessons learned from the mistakes made with Model 3, a better execution will result. Keep in mind that the competition is here for all practical purposes, and while the cars aren’t out in the wilderness just yet, it is one thing for 15 year old Tesla to give production and delivery timetables, and another for 87 year old and probably older and wiser, Porsche to do the same. So Tesla has to be on the defensive to get ready, so brace yourselves you Tesla fans who don’t like the Model 3 interior: some of you may not like this.
To keep costs down, to prepare customers for autonomy as many if not most of the units from the line are equipped if not easily capable of being equipped with hardware, eventually when ready with also the software, Tesla wants to get present and future cars compatible and ready for Level 4 robot autonomy.
So keeping consistent with the minimalist style cues of just a steering wheel, tablet screen, and a bare rudimentary instrument panel built into a wide expansive wooden dash with no vents present like Model 3,Electrekis reporting that third quarter 2019 Tesla will be making several big changes to the interiors of both the S and X lines to make the insides completely different. Softer cushions, quality materials, improved rear seating with the re-introduction of the rear center console as an option, improved storage, even wireless phone charging will be introduced.
Customers will see similarities with the Model 3 interior, but they will immediately notice the quality in the differences and improvements. The big difference is the elimination of the driver focused traditional instrumentation on the Model S that with the tablet screen made it a combination of old school and new school. In fact the new screens in the cars will be bezeless like the present and upcoming iPhones, and will shift orientation from vertical portrait like a center stack, to horizontal landscape mode like a bigger picture across the dash. With that reduced and minimized it’ll make the instrumentation on the Porsche competition, which is very old school and traditional, even more pronounced.
So Tesla is going deeper into their style to make them standout from the others as they rollout their products. So everyone is positioning themselves so that their differences and attributes really stand out. There will be no ambiguity as to what the difference is between say, a Porsche and a Tesla. Both are electric sports saloon fastbacks no doubt, but the devils are all in the details, and looking closer the differences will be obvious. No comment from Tesla about the anticipated changes coming to the interiors next year.
What do you think of the coming changes? Let us know in the comments section.