The Tesla Model 3 has already entered production, but eagle-eyed fans are still spotting new quirks in the company’s upcoming car. Tesla will deliver the first production models of the $35,000 vehicle, by far the cheapest electric car Tesla has ever made, at a special launch event later this month, but the unique design means some of the car’s features still remain a mystery. A new set of photos has revealed at least one design choice that makes the car stand out from the crowd.
New photos that Waldek Kubicki and Jim Roger Johansen initially posted on Facebook give some of the best looks at the interior so far. Notable features include the slick black seats and the lack of an instrument cluster. The latter is a money-saving measure; where the more expensive Model S has two computers with separate displays, the Model 3 depends on a single central control panel. The speedometer, which will be displayed on the panel, will fade in and out depending on the situation. CEO Elon Musk has explained the speedometer is less relevant in an autonomous car. Self-driving is a feature Tesla expects to bring to the Model 3 at a later date.
But what’s notable about Kubicki and Johansen’s photo is the design of the side doors.
“Has anyone else noticed that there doesn’t appear to be any interior door handles on the Model 3?” Joshua Spanoudakis said on the Tesla Model 3 Facebook group. “Any ideas?”
Several commenters pointed to previous evidence that a door release button is hidden behind the handle. It’s unclear whether the button is mechanical or electronic, but it’s likely the former as an electronic button could pose issues in an emergency.
In an April 2016 video uploaded by the Model 3 Owners Club, the narrator demonstrates the door handles on a development version of the car. In this video, the button is embedded on the passenger-facing side of the handle, but this appears to have moved in the final model to a less obvious location.
Others suggested Tesla may not bother with a door release mechanism.
“Once you get your 3, you won’t want to get out!” said Brian Schwerdt.
The launch of the Model 3 represents uncharted territory for Tesla. The company has made its name in offering a premium — and expensive — experience, while the launch later this month represents an effort to make the company’s cars affordable to a wider ranger of consumers. These small touches appear as part of Tesla’s efforts to carry over at least some of the more high-end details on a relative budget.