No. 6: Tesla’s model designer
Franz von Holzhausen Chief designer, Tesla
Franz von Holzhausen matches stylish minimalism with eye-popping details.
When Franz von Holzhausen joined Tesla in 2008, the electric-car startup was so inexperienced at vehicle design that it had to outsource most of the work on its original Roadster to the sports-car manufacturer Lotus. Today, its growing product lineup reflects the stylish minimalism of von Holzhausen, a veteran of GM, Mazda, and Volkswagen. For the Model 3 sedan, which arrived in 2017 with a starting price of $35,000, the designer helped figure out how to bring the price down (there’s only one dashboard screen and no self-extending door handles) while still delivering the carmaker’s signature understated, aerodynamic look. For Tesla’s latest Roadster, due in 2020 and priced at $200,000, von Holzhausen ditched the opaque roof of the 2008 model for a lightweight, removable glass one that can be stored in the trunk. The Roadster gave the designer a chance to build the uncompromising electrified hot rod Tesla wasn’t capable of producing a decade ago, and fans are already drooling for it. “We want to show that an electric vehicle can be better than anything,” he says. “Not just better than a normal road car, but better than any supercar.”
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