Tesla Motors CEO Musk Calls Model S “Computer On Wheels”

Speaking at Business Insider‘s Ignite conference recently, an owner of a Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S asked CEO Elon Musk about how they come up with the designs for their cars. Specifically, he wanted to know where they drew the line between keeping the design of the Model S like other cars and where they pushed the boundaries. Musk’s answer was simple: it was the electronics.

Tesla Motors CEO Musk Calls Model S "Computer On Wheels"

Musk speaks on Tesla car design

The Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) said they didn’t initially set out to be “Implicitly different.” They just wanted to make it the best car they could without really thinking about what was normal versus what was different. They just wanted a vehicle which looked great and handled well.

Beyond the physical design of the car, Musk said it always felt to him like other cars have “electronics from ten years ago,” so they really wanted to improve this aspect of the car. He said they used a “huge battery pack” so they could improve the screen inside the vehicle. They wanted it to be better than a laptop screen but ended up going to the supply chain for that screen because it looked better.

Tesla: brilliant or normal

Musk also emphasized their over-the-air updates, saying that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is the only vehicle which can send out software updates over the air. He said while designing the Model S, they considered whether things were “brilliant or normal” and that over-the-air updates seemed like they should be normal but weren’t.

In general, he said the Model S ended up being “like a computer on wheels” so that they can continue improving the car through these over- the-air updates. Basically, he said the same hardware just gets better and better with time.

Tesla’s software system could have saved them money

Although he didn’t mention it in the clip, the over-the-air update they sent after the Model S fires could have saved them a lot of money if regulators accept it as a fix. They significantly raised the speed at which the Model S lowers itself for better aerodynamics, thus creating more space underneath the vehicle and hopefully preventing serious fiery crashes like the two U.S. incidents recently.