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Tesla’s chief designer describes how the Model 3 design was created

Published Jan 17th, 2018 8:50PM EST
Model 3

In a rather short but nonetheless informative and interesting interview with Automobile, Tesla chief designer Franz von Hozhausen details how the Model 3 design came to be. Though not a household name, von Hozhausen, before joining forces with Elon Musk, was the Director of Design for Mazda North America where he helped design cars like the Pontiac Solstice. Since joining Tesla in 2010, von Hozhausen has been the lead designer behind the Model S, the Model X, and more recently, the Model 3. In short, if you’ve long been a fan of how Tesla vehicles look, you have von Hozhausen to thank.

When asked about how the look and feel of the Model 3 came together, von Hozhausen explains:

It was essentially customer-driven. They saw the Model S as a great car, but there was a desire for something 10 to 20 percent smaller, BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 size. We thought the $35,000 price point would work. We wanted five seats, more interior space, and to keep the fastback silhouette.

What’s particularly interesting is the revelation that the timeline of the Model 3, from early sketches to production, was just about two years. All in all, that’s a relatively fast turn around for the auto industry. Also interesting is that von Hozhausen and his team created three prototypes before ultimately picking what would eventually be the winning design.

With respect to some of the technical decisions that went into making the Model 3, von Hozhausen notes:

To keep the fastback profile, we eliminated the liftgate and used a normal trunklid. To keep a faster profile, we moved the structure ahead, to make sure the [head impact criteria] were all met. The big backlight is something we had experience with on the Model X windshield.

The full interview can be read in its entirety over here.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.