Franz von Holzhausen Talks Tesla Model 3’s Award-Winning Design & Minimalism

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March 25, 2018 3:00 am Published by

Published on March 24th, 2018 | by Matt Pressman

March 24th, 2018 by  

Originally published on EVANNEX.

Automobile magazine recently awarded the Tesla Model 3 “2018 Design of the Year,” calling the car “simple and straightforward, perfectly proportioned with minimal extraneous detailing.” The magazine goes on, “It has all been done with unmistakably good taste. … We have the impression that the studied simplicity of both interior and exterior will let this car age extremely well, that in 10 years it will still look contemporary and beautifully understated.”

Automobile‘s most recent magazine cover showcasing the Tesla Model 3 as winner of their “2018 Design of the Year” award (Image via kravensfan4)

Automobile‘s Robert Cumberford sat down with Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen to learn more about his approach to the design of Tesla’s newest sedan. It’s reported that, “Von Holzhausen, a born American despite his Teutonic-sounding name, has deep industry experience, having created the Pontiac Solstice and heading Mazda design in California before being headhunted by Musk for Tesla.”

Tesla’s Chief Designer, Franz von Holzhausen (Image via Globalist)

Von Holzhausen explained the design brief for the Tesla Model 3: “It was essentially customer-driven. They saw the Model S as a great car, but there was a desire for something 10 to 20 percent smaller. … We thought the $35,000 price point would work. We wanted five seats, more interior space, and to keep the fastback silhouette.”

The team at Tesla’s LA Design Studio located in Hawthorne, California (Image via david_imai)

Von Holzhausen describes the attributes that Model 3 shares with its siblings, the Model S and X: “For instance, we knew that flush door handles were important, but we simplified the mechanism, so they are not as costly. We kept good aerodynamics for range as well as to make the car sporty. Not silliness, just clean and sporty.”

Initial design sketches for the Tesla Model 3 (Image via EVANNEX)

Von Holzhausen also explains the rationale behind some of Model 3’s design choices: “To keep the fastback profile, we eliminated the liftgate and used a normal trunklid. To keep a faster profile, we moved the structure ahead, to make sure the [head impact criteria] were all met. The big backlight is something we had experience with on the Model X windshield.”

Von Holzhausen elaborates on why the design team decided to eliminate the front grille altogether: “That was a long time coming. We made the early cars less distinct from rivals but slowly came to this solution of how to keep a premium sports feel friendlier and happier than the luxury S. We changed that car, too, modifying 200 to 300 parts when the S was restyled without the painted ‘shield.’”

Related: Tesla Model 3 Minimalism vs Buttons & Stuff

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About the Author

is all about Tesla. He’s a TSLA investor, pre-ordered the Model 3, and loves driving the family’s Model S and Model X company cars. As co-founder of EVANNEX, a family business specializing in aftermarket Tesla accessories, he’s served as a contributor/editor of Electric Vehicle University (EVU) and the Owning Model S and Getting Ready for Model 3 books. He writes daily about Tesla and you can follow his work on the EVANNEX blog.


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