Tesla 3 fea­tures in­clude an ab­sence: No gauges

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - By Russ Mitchell

The Model 3, Tesla’s mid-mar­ket all-elec­tric sedan, of­fi­cially launched in late July, in­cludes sev­eral un­usual fea­tures.

Such as no gauges on the dash­board: no speedome­ter, no tach, no mileage read­outs, no sound sys­tem con­trols. Not a sin­gle but­ton, lever or dial. Ev­ery bit of in­for­ma­tion that would re­side on the dash — in any nor­mal car — and al­most all the user in­puts are gath­ered on a sin­gle 15-inch touch­screen mounted up front be­tween the driver’s and pas­sen­ger’s seats. The rest of the dash­board is bare.

Some might find that min­i­mal­ist setup to be cut­ting-edge cool. Some might find it too bar­ren for a car that, fully loaded, costs $60,000. Some might find the touch­screen crowded and con­fus­ing. Oth­ers will see the new in­stru­ment panel as re­flec­tive of the way they lead the rest of their dig­i­tal lives.

The mar­ket­place, ul­ti­mately, will judge just how ef­fec­tive the new lay­out is.

Each Model 3 comes equipped with eight cam­eras, a radar unit and 12 ul­tra­sonic sen­sors.

Trig­ger­ing the soft­ware to make En­hanced Au­topi­lot driver-as­sist tech­nol­ogy work costs $5,000 on top of the base price of $35,000. That in­cludes adap­tive cruise con­trol, au­to­matic lane changes, au­to­matic free­way exit and self-park­ing.

Full self-driv­ing soft­ware can be flipped on for an­other $3,000. The fea­ture is not cur­rently avail­able. The com­pany calls it a “fu­ture” op­tion. The tim­ing de­pends in large part on laws that would al­low such cars on the high­way. Congress is con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion that would al­low au­ton­o­mous cars on the road, su­per­sed­ing state laws that ban them, or, as in Cal­i­for­nia, al­low them but with nu­mer­ous re­stric­tions.

The fea­ture is also “de­pen­dent upon ex­ten­sive soft­ware val­i­da­tion,” Tesla said.

For an­other $5,000, a “pre­mium up­grade pack­age” in­cludes a glass roof, which adds more light to the cabin along with a feel­ing of spa­cious­ness. Tesla says the roof in­cludes “ul­travi­o­let and in­frared pro­tec­tion” in a nod to po­ten­tial buy­ers con­cerned about too much heat or height­ened risk of skin can­cer.

The base model in­cludes Wi-Fi and LTE con­nec­tiv­ity with in­ter­net stream­ing ra­dio. The same $5,000 pack­age that in­cludes the glass roof also buys a higher-qual­ity sound sys­tem. A new mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice that Elon Musk said Tesla will cre­ate to com­pete with Ap­ple and Spo­tify doesn’t ex­ist yet, but would surely be avail­able in all Tesla ve­hi­cles.

Musk has said the com­pany saved costs on the Model 3 in part by pro­vid­ing only one touch­screen rather than two. But buy­ers can use their smart­phone as a sec­ond screen for a Tesla app that will let them set cli­mate con­trols be­fore ex­it­ing the house, and re­place the car key. A wal­let-sized chip card serves as a valet key, or a backup, in case the owner for­gets her smart­phone.


The Tesla 3 mid­mar­ket elec­tric car, which launched last month, is out­fit­ted only with a touch­screen on its dash­board. Other add-ons in­clude self-driv­ing soft­ware and a higher-qual­ity sound sys­tem.

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