Here are some of the mostly undocumented technical aspects to the Model S that may appeal to the engineer in us!  Since little of this is from Tesla Motors, assume some data may be inaccurate. If you know more, we’d love to add to this list – just comment below and if possible, add a source.  Tesla also makes ongoing improvements that may change vendors or specifications between older and newer cars.

Acronyms – Use our Acronyms and Abbreviations to help in decoding terminology !

Active Aerodynamics -  Left and right front flaps boost aerodynamic efficiency and range by only providing additional airflow when needed through the radiators. Parts are made by Rochling. These flaps are only open about 10% of the driving time according to Rochling.  (from article in Auto Industries magazine Q1-2014, page 82)

Aluminum – The car’s skin and structure is 98% aluminum. The aluminum body only weights 410 lbs (Dream Cars video Dec-2014)


  • AM Radio – in the passenger side mirror
  • Bluetooth – Maybe base of 17″ display?
  • Charge port release – Uses FOB antennas (see below for FOB)
  • Data/3G – in both side mirrors or maybe hatch
  • FM Radio – in both side mirrors and rear hatch glass (likely a diversity design to pick the strongest signal between the three antennas)
  • GPS – top of back hatch glass
  • Homelink – Front of car, 3-5″ from the frunk latch, passenger side
  • TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitor Service) – near bottom front of AC propulsion motor
  • WiFi – in the passenger side mirror  (active with 5.0+ software)
  • XM Satellite – top of back hatch glass in early cars, under the pano roof in later editions

Batteries – Primary

  • 85 kWh – 400V, 7104 cells in 16 modules
  • 60 kWh – 350V, 6216 cells in 14 modules
  • 40 kWh – 350V, 6216 cells in 14 modules (software limited to 40 kWh)
  • Each module has 444 batteries, producing about 25 volts at 100% SOC
  • Individual cells are 3.6 V at 3400 ma in a 18650 form-factor casing sourced from Panasonic (the exact battery is only sold to Tesla and is not otherwise available).

Batteries – Other

  • 12 V,  33 Ah absorbed glass mat lead-acid (sealed gel cell) for most everything other than propulsion – DCS-33RIT
  • 3V coin cell for FOB – CR2032

Bluetooth – 3.0 + HS; Audio streaming with A2DP sink, A2DP source, AVRCP 1.4; Audio Profile A2DP includes support for standard SBC codec (highly compressed low-bit rate audio); Uses the Parrot FC6050 W chip.

Browser User Agent String - Mozilla/5.0 (X11; u; Linux; C) AppleWebKit /534.34 (Khtml, like Gheko) QtCarBrowser Safari /534.34

Bus Systems – CAN (Controller Area Network) and LIN (Local Interconnect Network) (assumed, based on 2012 Tesla engineering openings)

Connectivity – GSM 3G with HSPA+ using the AT&T’s network (and others) and using Sierra Wireless AR8550 (TMC Forum)

The Model-S hardware supports HSPA+, which AT&T considers 4G. A software update may be available in the future to add 4G support. The hardware does not support LTE.

Display – Instrument

  • 12.3″ LCD, Current: 1920 x 720;  Earlier vehicles 1280 x 480 resolution
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core CPU (Mercury News, 15-May-2013)
  • Reset by pressing top left and top right buttons at the same time on the steering wheel (safe to do anytime)
  • Software – Linux, QT and custom Tesla code (PC Word interview)

Display – Primary

  • 17″ LCD, 1080 x 1920 resolution
  • Nvidia’s Visual Computing Module VCM (Nvidia)
  • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core +1 power-saving core (Nvidia blog)
  • Cypress MultiTouch controller (press release)
  • Reset by pressing center left and center right scroll buttons at the same time on the steering wheel (safe to do anytime)
  • Software – Linux, QT and custom Tesla code (PC Word interview)

GPSU-Blox (from a Model S diagnostic screen, installed equipment)


  • 1 exterior antenna in back bumper, bottom-center (visible with bumper removed)
  • 2 antennas inside at dash, at the left and right side panels
  • 315 MHz for North America, 433.93 MHz for Europe and Asia (industry FOB standards)
  • FOB uses TI TMS37F128 Controller
  • If battery is dead, it may be powered via RF energy from antennas – best placement is between the two inside dash antennas (such as at the cup holders, or on the center windshield). We’ve been unable to confirm this works with a totally dead battery, and may be limited to working with a weak battery.
  • FCC report and internal photos

Lights – Our lighting count has 432 lights with 426 being LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes).

Memory – 16 GB SD flash memory standard, 32 GB when equipped with Sound Studio/Ultra High Fidelity Sound

Motors – Our motor and solenoid count comes up with over 50 when all options are included.

Motor – Propulsion (non-AWD)

  • Three phase, four pole, AC Induction
  • 16,000 RPM at 130 MPH (unconfirmed)
  • S60 – 302  hp (In Oct-2014 this changed to 380 hp, it’s unclear if this is a change or correction)
  • S85 – 380 hp
  • P85/P85+ – 416 hp (now discontinued)
  • Reduction gear ration 9.73 to 1
  • Liquid cooled, with temperature monitored stator
  • Motor weight about 150 lbs.
  • Motor assembly (with reduction gear and inverter) weight 300+ lbs.

Motors – Propulsion (AWD)

  • Three phase, four pole, AC Induction
  • S85D – 188 hp front and rear (376 hp total)
  • P85D – 221 hp front, 470 hp rear (691 hp total)
  • Liquid cooled, with temperature monitored stator

Motor Inverter – This converts the DC battery voltage to AC, powering the motor. It delivers up to 1000 amps (from 2010 10K annual report).

Music Formats – While only MP3, MP4 and AAC (without DRM) are documented, it also supports AIFF, WAV and FLAC files.  It also supports WMA and lossless WMA via USB. AIFF format supports 16-bit, but not the less common 24-bit format.

The best audio quality occurs when using a lossless format such as AIFF, FLAC, or lossless WMA.

Navigation System – A Tesla combination of Google on the main display and Navigon (a Garmin company) for the Instrument display and guidance.

OEM Suppliers – There are over 300 OEM suppliers providing over 2,000 parts for the Model S (from 2013 Annual report). This Suppliers Business Chart shows many of the major OEM parts supplied to Tesla in 2012.

Operating System – Tesla created code running  on Linux, written in C (PC World interview); Modified Ubuntu using the ext3 file system (dragtimes).  Early in the development Tesla considered both Android and iOS, but the key people at Android recommended against it, and Apple was unwilling to even talk to Tesla (Elon, video @36:10).

Patents – Tesla Motors has over 200 patents issued and more than 280 pending (from 2013 Annual report). Lots of interesting reading!

Power Connector – Below the center arm-rests, the 12 v “cigarette lighter” power connector is fused for 15 amps. It is a switched circuit and power is removed when the car turns off.  When the car is on, and the car is charging the 12v battery from the main battery, this connector’s voltage measures at 14.4 volts.

Power Consumption – Using the included Model-S charger, after the car is fully charged the vampire AC power load is less than 10 mA, essentially zero!

Processors – Our CPU report has 52 processors on a fully loaded car.

Radar Transponder - Uses a 77 GHz transceiver (from article by Ron Freund in Jan-2015 Current EVents). It is likely using Freescale’s MR2001 chipset and consumes a negligible 2.5W when operating. The Radar system is present in all cars built after late-September 2014.

Rear Camera – 720P HD 30 fps  (OmniVision Press Release pdf)

Special Access – For Tesla Personnel

  • Diagnostic Access – Press Tesla logo at top of the main display for 2 seconds, then requires password. (Tesla Club forum)
  • Screen Snapshot – Press lower-right steering button labeled “Back” for 2 seconds. Used to save both screens to a file. Only Tesla has access to the file.
  • Ethernet connector – via custom 4-pin connector behind driver side dash panel

Superchargers – In North America, each pair of stations is feed from one Supercharger package that uses 3-phase 480 V at 200 amps.  Within the Supercharger package are 12 Model S 10 kW inverters for a total of 120 kW. European Superchargers have 135 kW due to the higher input power available.  Each of these inverters can be directed to one  of the two stations, so that the power can be split between the two stations in increments of 10 kW (11.25 kW increments in Europe).  There is no power in the charging cable until the car properly handshakes with the Supercharger.  The charging for 85 kW 400v models is currently set to a maximum of 120 kW. Very early 85 kW cars (2012 and early 2013) are limited to 90 kW with the A version battery. All 60 kW 350v cars are limited to 105 kW due to the lower pack voltage.

Suspension – While components such as the Bilstein monotube shocks and Brembo brakes are well known, check out this excellent analysis by Edmunds of the entire suspension system with extensive photos and explanations.

USB Connections – 2 ports, illuminated, version 2.0 (compatible with USB 3.0 running as 2.0). These can source up to 500 mA for charging devices.  Devices must be formatted for FAT32 or the Linux Ext4 format. It does not support NTFS. Some USB connected Android phones and tablets may provide drive-like memory access that the model S can see. This seems to be a bit hit and miss depending on the device’s design. Apple’s iPhone and iPod’s non-standard data format is not seen by the Model S.

WiFi – b/g/i/j/n hardware support, but we believe only b/g are currently enabled in software; Uses the Parrot FC6050 W chip.

15 thoughts on “Undocumented

  1. Peter says:

    Antenna’s do not seem to be in mirrors:
    Service notes

    Correction: Antenna – AM/FM/HD Radio General Diagnosis
    Diagnose vehicle AM/FM/HD radio. Check for pinch on antenna wires. The wires are ok. Lowered the headliner and re routed antenna wires and cleaned off ground for the Radio Antenna. Checked the reception ok at this time.

    • Moderator says:

      There are multiple antennas – in the mirrors and the rear-hatch. The radios use a system that switches to the antenna with the strongest signal. This is a common design in cars today, especially for FM radio. I’ve personally seen the antenna wires that feed into the mirrors.

      It’s possible with the addition of electric folding mirrors that they had to remove an antenna, but I’ve not heard that yet (nor seen an electric folding mirror pulled apart yet).

  2. Aaron says:

    I looked at a trace of network traffic sent over Wi-Fi from my model S. It looks like all traffic is encrypted and sent over OpenVPN. A portscan reveals that all ports are blocked on my car.

  3. Mr.E says:

    The Homelink Antenna is approx 3-5in to the Left of the frunk connector

  4. rocifier says:

    Hi. The instrument cluster resolution is not correct. BMW’s is 1280×600, but the Tesla is 1280×480 which is more standard for automotive instrument clusters.

    • Moderator says:

      Yikes, I can’t find the source of the HD resolution now. I suspect you’re right, especially if they use square pixels as the ratio works out to be a 1280×480 display. What is your source?

  5. valhalla says:

    MAC= 90:03:B7:XX:XX:XX PARROT

    this is very interesting as they make car infotainment systems based on android
    Apps + Navigation + Music
    Hand-free systems

  6. nickjhowe says:

    Under ‘special access’, you can add that there’s an ethernet port for diagnostics/programming behind the side panel at the left hand end of the dash.

    Also found out yesterday there are six sensors to detect the key. Two in the front, two in the back, and one either side attached to the back of the same panel as the ethernet port.

    [you can delete this comment after noting the info. Thx.]

  7. Aaron says:

    From the useragent string it looks like Tesla is using the Qt framework on X11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qt_(framework)

    It’s one of the best framework out there.

  8. aviators99 says:

    Why do we think it’s an Android variant, as opposed to a non-Android Linux variant? I thought I read the latter.

    • Moderator says:

      I thought I heard it from one of the engineers at the Amped-up event last June, but I could be wrong. The fact it integrates with Google maps, and they have said they will have apps and possibly third-party apps makes Android a good bet. It gets them so much further faster by using Android. Of course they could have home-grown all of it, but seems like a huge amount of duplicate work for what’s available for free with Android.

      • aviators99 says:

        It was originally supposed to be Android, but they went to a different Linux-variant instead. I assumed it was because of the realtime functionality required.

      • teslafan says:

        may be they went to custom due to security, malware threats from apps which may cause potential or dangerous problems to thier cars and owners and eventually Company.

  9. Brian H says:

    And no rare earth permanent magnets!


    Typo: “more double of any other production” in Features. Suggest “more than double that of any …”

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