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Panoramic roof did not work during Elon's presentation

Panoramic roof did not work during Elon's presentation

I attended the Oct 2nd Tesla event and got a ride in the Tesla. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the cars performance and styling.

I have one major concern though. During Elons presentation, he attempted to demonstrate how awesome the controls for the panoramic roof were by sliding his finger across the display to close the roof. The giant TV used for his speech cut to a close up of the roof. It was a big reveal moment...and then...nothing happened. The roof failed to close. You could tell Elon was uncomfortable as he saw what was (or wasn't as it were) happening.

I asked some of the Tesla geeks about it afterwards. They said the software is still glitchy, this is not production ready. blah blah blah. If they cannot get it together to have the car working for the big PR moment, what does that say about them for being production ready?

I also asked the following: "if this panoramic roof fails to close, and I need to secure my vehicle, will there be some sort of manual override to get it closed?" The answer was a simple "I don't know"

It's one thing to have software or hardware problems at home on your computer, but what if this happens out on the road, like say I5 to LA? Also, the scrolling on the touchscreen looked very jerky. i.e., the opposite of a smooth ipad.

ggr | October 3, 2011

Hmmm, it opened perfectly well on command. I didn't notice him try to close it again.

taichicali | October 3, 2011

No, it definitely was a big FAIL. I have a friend who works there who noticed it as well.

Nicu | October 3, 2011

You know what beta means, right ?

Brad Holt | October 3, 2011

I have noticed that a lot of the screen motion is pretty jerky, like when they make the maps full screen or try to tap-drag around on the maps. Some have said they'll be updating the hardware come release time. Let's hope that clears things up!

taichicali | October 3, 2011

Yes, Nicu, I know what Beta means, thanks for asking. Even though this is the Beta model, don't you think that Tesla did everything they could to ensure every part of their CEO's presentation would go off without a hitch? Especially at a PR event like this? The fact that they either couldn't prevent this, or that their employees do not pay attention to these important details, does not inspire confidence. I was left unimpressed.

Brian H | October 3, 2011

tai;
Do you work for Fisker? Or for GM? Sounds like one of the two.
;p
The cars were not manufactured by Tesla, but for Tesla. They arrived less than a day before the demo. More evidence for Elon's contention that only total vertical integration permits full quality control, at least when it comes to cars, I guess.

taichicali | October 3, 2011

These Beta models were hand built BY Tesla employees in Detroit. No, I do not work in the automotive industry.

jomo25 | October 3, 2011

At this point, I'm not concerned. Its still 9 months away. There's still time for software bugs to get worked out.

Mike_ModelS_P457 | October 3, 2011

I've worked in application development long enough to know that things ALWAYS fail during a live demo of a beta product (thus the term minimally viable product...).

It is a simple matter of Murphy being a total son of a bitch. It has happened to Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Google and now Tesla; good company indeed!

I'm not overly concerned as long as firmware updates are simply managed and there are basic manual overrides for things like the sunroof.

Brian H | October 3, 2011

You can't hand-build aluminum stamped body panels, or glass curved roof segments, AFAIK.
As for firmware ... since Elon's b/g is software, I suspect someone is going to get a rocket up the socket, if it hasn't happened already.
!8-\

Timo | October 3, 2011

AFAIK beta-models are not hand-build, they are actual products of the Tesla factory. Tesla made, not yet completely finished production early versions. Alpha-models were hand-build elsewhere.

taichicali | October 3, 2011

I certainly hope for manual overrides as well, but they deflected when I asked. Anyway, I'm still excited, and still have my reservation. Though I was excited to see the panoramic roof operation, and still feel letdown. I'm sure Elon reamed someone out for this.

Brian H | October 3, 2011

Timo;
I think that's true of the "bulk" beta run, but that it hasn't yet begun. Some of the equipment just arrived, according to someone who was talking to a supplier who just got his machine up and running in the prev. 24hrs. So I'm not sure. Come to think of it, the engineering press showing in the spring(?) was showing Alphas being built for testing and smashing.

Robert.Boston | October 3, 2011

More reason not to get the panoramic roof ... my first Audi had a gremlin that like to open the sunroof during rainstorms; my wife's BMW's sunroof is a fraction of a millimeter mis-set and whistles at highway speeds ... these things are prone to mishap. I'll take mine in solid aluminum, please, painted Sequoia Green.

Bgu | October 3, 2011

During the factory tour they explained the full welding line was previously in detroit and has indeed build the betas. It is now moved to the new factory but not yet used.
As for the jerky touch panel, the hardware engineer confirmed me it will absolutely handle as an iPad. He was very proud of this :-)

cablechewer | October 3, 2011

The bulk beta run is waiting on the last parts to arrive from Japan and be fitted into the presses. My tour guide believed that everything else in the factory was complete.

taichicali | October 3, 2011

Bgu, many of the welds which will be done by the robots, were actually performed by hand in Detroit.

So glad to hear that the interface will be as smooth as an Ipad. If that really turns out to be true, that would be awesome.

As far as the panoramic roof...my wife REALLY wants it....I suppose some of you know how this goes.

Volker.Berlin | October 3, 2011

During the factory tour they explained the full welding line was previously in detroit and has indeed build the betas. It is now moved to the new factory but not yet used. (Bgu)

Thank you for sharing this detail. I was already wondering what the "Beta" thing was all about if it does not mean they built them using their own production line.

Vawlkus | October 4, 2011

A totally brand new car built from scratch, and the only bug they have (that we know of) is the sunroof controls? Geeze! I'd say they're doing damn well to have all the major systems up and running smoothly enough for this kind of demonstration. 1 minor glitch in, what is essentially a bonus option is not a huge red flag IMHO. It means they are getting stuff DONE, and done well.

stephen.kamichik | October 4, 2011

In one of the test drive videos, the sunroof is opened and closed successfully by swiping the 17 inch screen.

BYT | October 4, 2011

Was this on Saturday or Sunday? I was there on Sunday and didn't notice that? I can't wait to get my car and I have faith that Elon will not let the cars leave the assembly line with those bugs intact. In the scheme of things, it's not a big deal and I know they aren't considering it a big deal yet either. They expect us to be forgiving of these little glitches and for these reasons most other car manufacturers don't let you see a pre-build beta of a car until it's released to a dealer. They will pull it out, I am sure and I loved the panoramic ceiling and can't imagine my Model S without it! I already built mine with the Pearl White paint job, tan leather interior but am not sure which trim style yet to choose?

gjunky | October 4, 2011

I agree with the Murphy's Law comments. I have been in software development most of my life and these things tend to happen during demos, even if you check everything 20 times, even 5 minutes before. Anyone remember the plug-n-play demonstration of Bill Gates at CES years ago.... :)

How many electrically operated roofs do you know that have an override? Just because there is a hard button, doesn't mean it will operate every time. This would be true for any car.

Anyway, it is a Beta. The cars looked amazing and I for one am convinced the quality will go up for the production models. I also hope that software upgrades will be easy to do (OTA and by choice please).

toto_48313 | October 6, 2011

Bugs can alwayshappen. However I don't really mind about software problem as they could easily be fixed by downloading a new release or new version. I'll have being much more concern by a structural problem, or battery, engine, etc... this is much harder to fix after the car is out of the production line.
I do think Tesla engineers knosw where to focus their efforts to make a reliable efficient car that may evolve even after you own it, don't you?

johnnybananas | October 6, 2011

Doesn't concern me. They still have many months to work out bugs and glitches in software. And the ability to update that software even after production models make it into our hot little hands.

It's a beta. Would you rather have had Elon simply not unveil anything until next year? It's not as if the car didn't start, or crapped out mid-drive.

I feel the same way about all the criticism regarding the interior. Make your opinions heard, of course, but to assume they're going to go with an interior that isn't optimized with the basics like lcd panel integration is a little much. Of course they will, they're not dumb.

jandkw | October 18, 2011

I didn't attend the Tesla event, with the Panoramic roof, is there any fabric (real roof) that I can close inside to block the sun at times?

gjunky | October 18, 2011

It didn't look like there was one. I know they are talking about the coating on the roof glass that is to block our most of the heat but it doesn't stop the light from hitting you. I have that same concern and it will probably make me not order this option (that and what I guess will be the large additional fee...)
For those who think the light coming through isn't so bad, come to Phoenix :)

Mycroft | October 18, 2011

The software not reacting to a finger swipe isn't bad at all. Microsoft and Apple, as mentioned, have had much worse happen at their events. What would have been disastrous would have been a failure of the electric drive while Elon was bringing the car to the stage. I can't see a bunch of guys pushing 4,000+ pounds up onto that platform.

stephen.kamichik | October 18, 2011

I believe that it was mentioned that there will be no cover for the panoramic roof. My recent battle with skin cancer has cured me of the desire to have a panoramic roof.

ThomasN | October 18, 2011

Don't give up yet, uv transmission depends on the type of glass.

Soflauthor | October 18, 2011

I can't locate the source, but I seem to recall reading someplace that TM was considering designing in some kind of opaque sun shade for the panoramic roof. I really hope they do. I live where the sun is intense and almost always shining. Even if the roof design cuts a substantial percentage of UV and heat, I have to believe that the constant glare would be tiring.

If there's no sun shade, I'm going to have to pass on the roof, and that would be a shame.

EdG | October 18, 2011

If you have a history of skin cancer, you should probably have an aftermarket UV blocking coating put on as much car glass as you can. It doesn't have to have any tint. (In New York any window tinting is illegal.) Bright light without UV doesn't cause skin damage.

Check that your tint blocks all UVA and UVB. If it says it "blocks 100% UV", it may only be blocking UVB, which doesn't get through glass anyway. [UVC doesn't even make it through the atmosphere.]

Tesla hasn't yet released specs about the type of glass or any coatings they use. Maybe they'll have taken care of it already! Hint.

Robert.Boston | October 18, 2011

A solid sheet of aluminum is going to be a far better UV sunblock than any coating. My sister had a nasty melanoma removed from her face; I think I'll be happier without the panorama sunroof. One less thing to break, too (call me a cheap Yankee).

stephen.kamichik | October 18, 2011

OK cheap Yankee. Call me either MELANOMA HEAD or cheap Canadian.

Robert.Boston | October 18, 2011

OK, Melanoma Head! I'll buy you a coffee at Tim Horton's should we ever have occasion to meet!

EdG | October 18, 2011

FWIW, I've never liked a sunroof, and the fancy one on the S isn't convincing me otherwise.

Etographer | October 18, 2011

I am new to the board and this is my first post. I reserved my Model S today. That being said, I would like to add my opinion.

The fact that it didn't open during the demonstration doesn't bother me. All of us that have signed up to purchase this car are innovators. We embrace the new technologies for what they are, new. I for one, if I recieved this car brand new, and it didn't work upon delivery, I would simply ask that they fix it. I am sure that they would, just as if you bought a Toyota with a bad sunroof. I am not trying to discount the feelings of others, I just saying that it doesn't bother me at all.

steve | October 18, 2011

The real issue that I think Tesla needs to address from all these blog post is that there needs to be manual buttons in addition to the virtual buttons for certain key functions, i.e. :

1 A button next to the sunroof to open the sunroof,

2 Unlock/lock buttons next to the inside door handle to open the 4 doors and hatch,

3 A sport mode button (to allow a 0 to 60 in 4.5 sec vs. 5 seconds (only on the sport model) instantly without having to go to the screen),

4 Stereo controls for volume, function select, station select, etc. on the steering wheel,

5 At least 4 garage/gate opener buttons on the rear view mirror,

6 Rear view mirror light sensitivity button on the rear view mirror (like on the Nissan Leaf,

7 Charger lid release button/pull

8 Trunk/hood release button/pull

9 Car start button

As you can see from the list above, there are a lot of items that SHOULD NOT be controled by the screen solely, but rather through readily available and conveniently located buttons. However, I get the impression that Tesla is looking to eliminate most all buttons including the ones listed. Any comments?

Nicu | October 19, 2011

to get 4.5s on the sport model you just press hard on the right pedal
to start the car, you just buckle your belt

the car itself will prove what simplicity is about with many other functions, stay tuned !

Volker.Berlin | October 19, 2011

Nicu, exactly my thinking. Similarly, rear view mirror light sensitivity is adjusted automatically in the 5 series and E class, and I expect in the Model S as well. It's proven technology, nobody ever gave a thought about adding a manual override. Similarly, the "unlock" function is usually built into the door handle -- pulling the door handle first unlocks, then opens the door. Another button that is not needed.

I agree that some essential buttons will be necessary, but the longer you think about it, the shorter gets that list. There is certainly a requirement to be able to drive safely without the touch screen. But if it fails, there's a zillion of reasons why you would have it repaired asap, anyway, so IMO there is no point in cluttering the cockpit with buttons just for this hopefully rare case.

Note: Most "physical buttons" in your current car are only physical on the surface. They simply provide input to some integrated circuit aka computer, which then triggers some actuator to do what you ask for. Have you ever worried that could fail? I have yet to see a car that features power windows but has a crank handle in the glove box for manual override. Just in case...

Volker.Berlin | October 19, 2011

Steve, I think we have some common ground when I say that the touch screen must work. Period. Touch screen fail = Model S fail = Tesla fail. That's the game they are playing and I agree with everybody who says that the touch screen is a critical part of this car.

However I disagree with you if you say you need manual overrides b/c the touch screen may fail. No, it may not. (It may fail in the beta, but not in the production version. And to be honest, it may even fail in a production car, but it had better be a really rare event. So rare that you don't have to care about it. Otherwise: Tesla fail.)

Robert.Boston | October 19, 2011

@Volker.Berlin: I agree that "some essential buttons will be necessary, but the longer you think about it, the shorter gets that list." I'm hoping, though, that Tesla designers aren't being dogmatic about getting from "some" to "none". Although it's true that most buttons/switches are only providing input to some electrical circuit, the dedicated control has fewer ways to fail than a programmable touchscreen.

Consider the mis-cue of BMW's original iDrive -- moving too many functions into a nested set of menus. Did you know that BMW even eliminated the oil dipstick? Gotta go check the oil level on-screen. My wife still can't figure out how to do anything moderately complex with her 535! (At least there's still one thing I'm useful for around a car--heaven knows, BMW doesn't want amateurs fixing their own cars.)

Volker.Berlin | October 19, 2011

BMW iDrive is a great example. They did the right thing (every upper class car manufacturer has their version of "iDrive" now) but they did not get it right the first time around. They were convinced of the concept and gradually improved on the execution until they arrived where they are now. I'd wager that Tesla knows this story inside out, and I hope they draw the right conclusions.

To be clear, the touch screen will be a little quirky in the beginning and will gradually improve. There is no way around that. But quirkiness is not the same as failure.

EdG | October 19, 2011

Example: My wife drives a 2012 Acura TL Advance - it's loaded. The center console has a big knob and button and acts sometimes like a joystick, with buttons all around. It controls everything.

Three times now in 4 months, she wasn't able to shut off the car while in Park. The engine went off, but the car went into "accessory" mode. Niether little door button nor the key button (both electronic) would allow the door to be locked because, of course, the car wasn't off yet. There's a sort of "hard reset" mode. You push the "engine on/off" red button (the one used to start and stop the car) and hold it for 10 seconds. Nada. No help. No way.

The first time, I drove to her office (20 minutes), started it, put it in reverse, then forward into the parking spot, and it shut right off. I figured I was a genius, making the computer change modes. The second time I had to go down, I did everything 4 times, drove around a bit, but no relief. Called the dealer, and drove to them. When I got there, the problem had disappeared. The third time I took out my phone to start to video the problem, but, unknown to me, it had cured itself before I got there. The video showed a perfectly functioning car. I was hoping to post the video on YouTube to get the attention of someone at Acura.

During the second episode, I did notice that I could take the metal key out of the electronic key housing, and lock the door with it. The engine wasn't on, and the only problem was that the electronics were using a little battery. So, that "manual override" worked. It was good to have, but not good enough if it happened to anyone else (e.g. valet parking).

The whole electronic system in the car was virtually identical to their previous year's model, so they thought they had a bunch of history on the computer system. Only one other time in their history did this type of thing occur, and it was supposedly fixed by changing out the AC filter!

What does this mean for Tesla? It means, to me, two things:
1) Make SURE that the computer used for driving is rock solid. No bug causing the car to think the accelerator is being floored. And if it did happen, stepping on the brake at the same time should force some sort of (very quick, but very functional) reset. I don't know what the Roadster has, but I guess there's something equivalent there.
2) "When in doubt, boot it out." I wouldn't be thrilled with the Acura if I had to "hard reset" it regularly. But it would be better than the reset not working! Tesla: make sure there's some way, (assuming the car is stopped, but no other assumption) the driver can reset ALL computer systems. Hard. And make absolutely sure we can stop no matter what the computer says or how many million times per second it says it.

DarrellH | October 19, 2011

At two of the events we attended, we were told that the panoramic roof blocks 93% of the UVA and UVB rays and 80% of the heat load.

David M. | October 19, 2011

I don't know why this roof thing is such a big issue with folks on the Beta 1 car. I was at the Oct. 1 event, just 15 feet away from the stage. A different color Beta car was used on Oct. 1. Everything with the panoramic roof worked fine. I was blown away. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that so many things worked just fine on the Beta 1, and I am grateful for the test ride. No other car company would dare make such an offer.

Now, back to the roof, if I have any money left after getting my "must haves", big battery and the 21" wheels, it will go for the performance upgrade, not the roof. I don't think the performance upgrade or the roof will make the cut in my budget.

rd2 | October 19, 2011

I was able to open and close the panoramic roof on the Beta in the Tesla Menlo Park store repeatedly without any hitches at all. Your fears are unfounded. Chillax.

Mycroft | October 19, 2011

@David M "I don't think the performance upgrade or the roof will make the cut in my budget."

The performance package is (hear high pitched voice) AWESOME!

Here's what the Model S must have in order to add the performance package: 300mi battery pack, air suspension, possibly 21" wheels.

I'm raiding the cookie jar and maxing out my credit line. That Model S Signature Sport will be mine! Muah ha ha!

Not sure about the pano roof. If the price for it is already included in the Sig edition, well, I guess I'll be getting that too.

David M. | October 21, 2011

@Mycroft, Too funny!

Honestly, if you Google "0 to 60 times" you'll see that a time of 5.6 seconds is pretty darn fast. It's roughly equivalent to a 5.0 Liter V8 in a medium weight car. As much as I would love to be able to outrun many sports cars with a 0 - 60 time of 4.5 sec, I've got to believe that this will be another $10,000 option. At some point, almost everyone runs out of $10,000 bills.

Thanks for the laugh!

Mycroft | October 21, 2011

I hear you Dave. I would highly recommend you NOT take any cars faster than 5.6 for a test drive of any serious length of time. If you do, you'll quickly get spoiled.

I test drove a 2.5 Roadster Sport for an entire 24 hours. (Well I didn't drive it the whole time of course, but I had it a whole day.) My wife and I LOVED it! Unfortunately, it was just too impractical.

So I started looking around for new and used two and four seater sporty cars that might fill the void. BMW, Lexus, Audi; I test drove many cars. They were all in the mid 5's and didn't even come close to increasing my pulse with their acceleration. It wasn't until I checked out a 2006 SLK55 that my fire was lit again. The 55 has an acceleration somewhere between 4.6 and 4.9.

Now it's possible that a car the size of the Model S *will* feel great at 5.6. I won't know 'til I'm able to test drive one. I have to say, I was a little impressed with the zippiness of the Audi A7 which was partially due to the car's large size. And I never tried out the Porsche Panamera.

$10k here, $10k there, pretty soon you're talking real money! :D

Timo | October 22, 2011

@Volker.Berlin, "However I disagree with you if you say you need manual overrides b/c the touch screen may fail. No, it may not."

If touch screen breaks you should be able to still drive the car, so it should not hold any vital controls without having backup. Otherwise it creates a single point of failure -scenario and becomes too important to car.

Displays break. I work at IT and failing LCD displays are not uncommon, they fail way too often to be comfortable to trust (some last very long, some fail in weeks even with five year warranties) Being large touch-screen in a shaky environment with changing temperatures that would require quite miracle-screen to be useful very long. Failing screens will be quite common failure.

To prevent that being "Touch screen fail = Model S fail = Tesla fail." all vital controls have to be duplicated elsewhere. In steering wheel or somewhere in console.

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