Tesla has been very tight-lipped regarding the continued development of their upcoming mass-market electric car, the Model 3. We got a good look at a pre-production prototype a while back, but it didn’t seem to be quite finished, especially in the interior. Now we’ve heard something interesting about the interior that will make the new Tesla unique among pretty much every car you can buy today.
Now, let me clarify two things: first, this isn’t earth-shaking news, but it is novel and, I think, interesting. Second, the source we got this from seems to be close to Tesla, and while I feel like the source is reliable, we have not been able to absolutely 100% confirm the source. So, keep that in mind.
This “leak” has to do with how the Model 3's HVAC system will work, and how that will affect the design of the dash. You may recall that interior pictures of the Model 3 showed a shockingly spartan and spare dashboard, with pretty much nothing except a steering wheel and a flat screen in the middle.
One especially notable missing parts were vents. Pretty much every car has a set of dashboard-mounted vents to pump that sweet, sweet conditioned air into the car. Cool or hot air at your command – it’s one of the triumphs of modern motoring, right? So where are the vents?
Initially, I assumed that the dash design just didn’t have them yet because Tesla hadn’t finished designing them. According to our source, I was wrong:
“...the A/C system uses the entire width of the dash to blow air from a centrally mounted fan.”
Now that is interesting. Mildly interesting, sure, but interesting all the same. The dashboard may actually stay vent-free, and the operation of the HVAC air-blowing system seems to be similar to one of those Dyson bladeless fans that actually has blades, they’re just hidden deep inside.
So, I suspect that maybe that horizontal recess that goes all the way across the dash is where the air is forced out from the fan, hidden somewhere in the dash assembly there. The effect may be sort of like an intentional version of the heater system in a Lada Niva I once drove:
The hot air just sort of seeped out of the dash from every seam and crack. Sure, the volume was a bit more at the parts that I think were supposed to be vents, but you could find the hot air just sort of mashing out of everywhere. It’s as though the HVAC team watched a baby really overfilling a diaper with poop, till it was oozing out leg holes and waistband, and decided, “yeah, let’s get the heat to flow out just like that.”
That was due to terrible build quality: I think the Model 3 will achieve a similar effect more intentionally.
All cars use a solitary blower somewhere centrally mounted in the dash to propel the air to vents. I suspect that what Tesla is doing will be notable for two reasons: first, the novelty of a dash free of a bunch of clunky-looking directional vents, and, more importantly, I think they may be addressing the issue of fan noise.
Much like Steve Jobs, many people (myself included) find fan noise kind of annoying. I once drove a Bentley with the A/C on full and was shocked at how loud the blower was. Surely in a Bentley you’d think they’d pay attention to something like that, right? Apparently not.
But maybe the Model 3 will. From what little I can gather about the system, it seems like it could be an ideal way to try and mitigate as much fan noise as possible. That would be an actually worthwhile advancement, and Tesla might look into having it across their line of cars.
Or, this could all be bullshit told to me by an unreliable source. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I bet it’s true, though.