We examine the ability to tilt the center display in Tesla vehicles.
Model S/X Tilting Display
As some may know, when Tesla introduced Plaid Model S and X in early 2021, it was specified to include a tilting main display. (Oct-2021 update)
This feature offered a motorized left/right shift. It wasn’t entirely clear how it would operate, perhaps using a scroll wheel or a display setting. The position was likely memorized via the driver profile.
There is even a snapshot of a pre-production car with the display tilted (via SiliconValleyTeslas/Instagram).
Before any Model S Plaid or LRs were delivered, the feature text disappeared from the website, in June 2021.
Why is it Missing?
Tesla hasn’t stated why they elected to drop the feature. As the feature is rather minor it is not worth holding up sales. Here are our possible reasons it was dropped.
- A supply issue – Perhaps Tesla had a problem sourcing the tilting motor or another related component. This appears to be the most likely issue as several owners have said the motors are missing. A retrofit may be possible.
- A software issue – it has all the hardware but the software is not completed and the feature could reappear in a future release. Normally a planned feature would remain if expected in a future software release, so this seems unlikely.
- A design issue – it just didn’t work or work well. Perhaps it made too much noise, was too slow, the power electronics did not work, or it could not hold the display steady while driving. I don’t think this is the case.
- A glare issue – If the rear seat is folded down, and at night with a truck behind you, having the display tilted towards the driver might be blinding. As it could be a problem for all cars (i.e. non-Tesla) with a display, doubtful this is a concern enough to eliminate the feature.
- A visual issue – Perhaps the viewing angle of the LCD screen is not as good as it needs to be for various angles to work. Perhaps they had to switch display suppliers and the alternate LCD doesn’t have the desired viewing angle. I think this is very unlikely.
- A reliability issue – If the display moves each time you get into the car and again when you leave the car, it could easily require 8 motions per day, over 10 years. That amounts to about 30,000 motions. The mechanics and the cable must be able to handle that many repetitions. It could be the design was not reliable enough to meet this criterion. Possible, but usually reliability is considered and tested long before it gets to production.
- A safety issue – When going from an out-tilt position to a flat one, it has the potential to hurt a finger. If someone has fingers wrapped around the lower part of the display and it closes, perhaps it can’t stop, and fingers would get pinched or worse. I expect the design is similar to the retracting door handles. The motor pushes it out and with a spring-loaded design, it can’t pinch your fingers on retraction.
The Display Mechanism
The display mechanism appears to have at least one motor we’ve highlighted in green, and likely two motors, one for each side. The cost of the mechanism is $90. The display has two pins that fit into the left and right front of the mechanism. Our best guess is each motor controls the position of each side of the display, but with a very clever mechanical system, perhaps only one motor is needed.
Model 3/Y Tilting Display
While the Model 3/Y has a fixed display, there are third parties now making a modification that allows the display to manually tilt.
Check out the installation video each vendor offers to see if you’ll feel comfortable installing their kit.