I love the way Elon Musk is redefining technology and shaping the future with his different companies, so I was eagerly waiting for the presentation of Tesla Model 3. But I also know how to recognize a Very Bad Idea when I see one. Moving the speedometer and the other gauges traditionally located behind the steering wheel to a 15-inch touchscreen display located in the center of the dash comes as a huge disappointment for me. There are a number of reasons for that.
Safety: when you are driving as fast a car as a Tesla Model 3 -- one of the marketing arguments is that a Model 3 can reach 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds -- you must keep an eye on your speed very often if you do not want being flashed by a radar and break the law. I don't want to have to search the information on a 15-inches screen. It is distracting and dangerous.
Elon Musk said that "You won't care" because the more autonomous a vehicle is, the less it needs such a display.
I have two problems with that statement. The first is obvious: the technology is not ready yet, especially so in Europe. Besides, you have to pay more for the automated software: it is not installed by default on the Model 3.
The other objection is a more philosophical one. The speedometer is an instrument of control. Do you want to control your vehicle, or be controlled by it?
In my opinion, an autonomous vehicle is only progress if we are able to take the control back at any moment.
As a customer, because of this absence of a speedometer, I have the impression that Musk wants to coerce me into using the autonomous feature. Which is, of course, a very bad thing.
Why? Because I can't help wondering why he wants me to surrender control. Has Tesla made a secret deal with Mac Donald, so that my vehicle will automatically park near a Mac Donald restaurant? Or with another company? As you can see, it raises many unwanted questions.
Second-rate car: maybe the absence of a speedometer would seem more natural if that were the case in all Tesla cars. But it is not the case on Tesla Model S. And neither on Tesla Model X. The comparison is bound to happen: why on a Tesla Model S, and not on a Tesla Model 3?
The inevitable answer: budget. Money. I don't want a car I own to shout that I have less money than the owner of a Model S. I find it incredibly awkward on Elon Musk's part, not to have thought about that.
As much as I want electric vehicles to succeed, and the Tesla model 3 to thrive, I am sorry to say that I most probably will not buy it.