Ever since Tesla unveiled its Model 3, a major question has plagued fans. Where’s the instrument cluster? The prototype versions look sleek, but without any sort of visible speedometer, it’s currently an accident waiting to happen. Tesla Model 3 reservation holder Matt Parra took matters into his own hands, designing a mockup that shows how he thinks the cluster has been hiding in plain sight this whole time.
In the Model S and Model X, the dashboard held two computer displays, powered by two separate computers. One, contained in the dashboard, provides an advanced virtual instrument cluster that can change to show context-sensitive information. The larger screen in the central console offers touch-based controls as part of a tablet system, also responsible for features like music and navigation controls.
Elon Musk confirmed in last week’s earnings call that the Model 3 has just one computer and screen system, one of the many examples of how the company has made cutbacks to meet the $35,000 target price. That leaves two options: some sort of virtual heads-up display projected onto the windshield, or a central display that shows both advanced controls and the instrument cluster.
There are a few reasons why this would make sense. It keeps the speedometer within easy sight of the driver, it keeps costs low, and it doesn’t need a second computer display (maintaining Elon Musk’s promise).
“This would look somewhat spaceship-like to me at the expense of very little air vent ventilation,” Parras said. “The only bits of information you’d really need there are: current speed, speed limit of road, range, turn signal blinkers, headlight indicators, blind spot indicators, and some kind of autopilot indications (I’m sure I’m missing something). Everything else would be on the center screen.”
On the downside, it would look quite low-tech. Parras noted it looks a bit like the dashboard in a Honda Civic. As a static set of controls, it’s also unlikely it would receive software updates, hampering one of the big benefits of Tesla’s range.
It also doesn’t look as cool as projected heads-up display concepts, like this one from Steve Ono:
Only Tesla itself knows what the real plan is, but with production set to start this July, it may not be long before we all get clued in.