The most controversial feature of the year’s most hotly anticipated car is a touchscreen, a 15-inch display perched on the dash of the Tesla Model 3 like an affront to decades of automotive design. Everything runs through this screen: gear shifter, music, HVAC, navigation… even the windshield wipers and sideview mirrors. There is no instrument cluster and no heads-up display.
So far, the basic mechanics of the touchscreen have remained a mystery. We’ve all seen photos and pored over the promotional videos released by Tesla, but until now, we’ve lacked a close-up look at the touchscreen’s user interface.
Jalopnik just posted a video that made the rounds over the weekend of the comprehensive walk-through we’ve been itching for. Shot at a Tesla gallery in Austin, Texas, in what is purported to be the first Model 3 shipped outside California, a Tesla employee (presumedly) gives a pretty good overview of the screen’s controls.
We see a top-down image of the car on the left-hand side, just below a large “P” that indicates the car is in park. Right below the P is a battery icon that indicates the amount of charge that’s left, followed by the speed limit as recognized by the camera at the top of the windshield.
To the right, there’s a larger window that switches from navigation to music to settings, based on the icon selected at the bottom of the screen. The Tesla employee demonstrates how to turn on the windshield wipers (two settings: fast and slow), and adjust the air flow from the hidden vents. The later functionality, which involves moving two dots around a grid of four squares to direct the flow of air, is very, very weird. Time will tell whether this turns out to be an easy way to adjust the AC or a totally counterintuitive design choice that confuses drivers.
Another confusing aspect is the apparent lack of FM radio in the Model 3. There is satellite radio and podcasts galore, but when the Tesla employee tries to call up Austin’s Mix 94.7, he’s instead offered a bunch of non-Austin stations. This may be by design: Tesla is reportedly negotiating with all the major labels about licensing a proprietary music service that would come bundled with its cars. The Model 3 also couldn’t sync with a smartphone or Wi-Fi; the Tesla employee is promising those functions will be available through a software update at a later date.
“There’s a lot to learn,” the customer admits after the tutorial is over. “It’s a learning curve for us too,” the Tesla employee replies.