Its Door Handles Drive Me Nuts - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Its Door Handles Drive Me Nuts

June 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Seems I'm in the minority regarding the door handles of our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S. You see, I cannot stand them. That motorized feature is goofy and unnecessary, serving only to provide a gee-whiz impression the first time you use them and after that the novelty is gone and then they're simply a potential trouble spot. They lack tactility, as there's a delay between when you tug and when the solenoid fires, so the door feels as though it sticks slightly. Not a lux vibe, that.

But worst of all, they conduct heat like you would not believe. The other day, after sitting in the morning sun for just a couple of hours, the handle grew so hot it was essentially untouchable. Yowza!

The Tesla's door handles strike me as one of those ideas that wasn't really thought through.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor


  • Yup, there's lots wrong with the implementation of these. Definitely a form over function situation.

  • zcalvert zcalvert Posts:

    I disagree... i think it's the result of too MUCH thought. Like the idiotic new capacitive touch controls of BMW's shifter... it's an answer to a question that nobody was asking.

  • zcalvert zcalvert Posts:

    "or" BMW's shifter - my bad

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Considering the relative simplicity of the rest of the car's design (extremely simple powertrain and chassis layout, storage compartment, interior, center console consists entirely of a BAS -big [non-permissible content removed] screen-), I'm surprised that they include gimmicks like this... about as lame as Jag's pulsing shift dial. Door handle engineer should go back to the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid!). But I suppose this is meant to impress your more easily impressionable friends

  • teslamsp teslamsp Posts:

    As a Model S owner myself, I agree that the door handles are less than ideal and somewhat gimmicky. They do get rocket hot when the car is parked in the sun. I am also concerned about their long term reliability. I have gotten used to the pull technique. Since they don't require a mechanical "pull", you have to treat them like touch sensor. I now just put my hand in the handle and lightly touch the inside. I don't try to "pull" the handle like I do in other cars. Once you get used to that, the solonoid delay isn't noticable. Finally, one hidden benefit of the handles is that it makes washing the car easier. Since they rest flush within the door, washing and waxing has fewer edges to navigate. Minor bonus...

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @teslamsp: That actually reminds me of another advantage these might have- if you get used to simply touching the handle rather than grabbing it, it probably significantly reduces the changes of the paint around the grabhandle from being scratched by your

  • @duck87 Plastic! But nothing feels more premium than 2nd degree burns on your hands from the luxurious solid block of aluminum! When we bought the car, my wife said, "Those things are going to be the biggest problem". So far, this is mostly tru

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    I wonder how they perform under the shell of ice that freezing rain provides occasionally. I'd prefer a simple handle.

  • blurry_eyed blurry_eyed Posts:

    The handles have been slightly redsigned to give a bit of tactile feedback. On cars that are shipping now, there is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of travel that happens when you pull on the door handle. It gives you just enough delay and feedback that the door handle feels 'normal'.

  • I think the handles are brilliant, both from a design and function point of view. I've been living with them since early March. I love the way they greet me when I approach the car. Their LED lights look very cool at night. This is the kind of feature that usually doesn't make it from a prototype to the production vehicle. I'm so impressed that Tesla made them a priority.

  • djwdjw djwdjw Posts:

    During the recent ice storm here, the Model S was completely covered in about 1/4" of very hard frozen ice. Interestingly all 4 door handles blasted out dramatically when I approached the first time. It was an interesting sight to behold.

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