Tesla vehicles have many nice features, but I’ve long thought that one of the most underrated features is the seats. I think since the first time I drove a Tesla Model 3, I’ve thought they are the best seats on the market — excluding, perhaps, the Mercedes S-Class seats that can give you a back massage (that’s pretty sweet).
Oddly, it’s a fairly common refrain to say that Tesla doesn’t have the best seats. I also sometimes notice people heaping praise on other fairly normal seats in other vehicles, and that has confused me any time I’ve witnessed it. There may be a reason these kinds of quick, simple comments pop up from time to time — and the biggest reason may be that Tesla seats used to suck. In fact, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently laughed in an interview with Sandy Munro that Tesla used to have the worst seats he’d ever sat in. In the early days of the Model S, Tesla was known for having crappy seats — especially in the back. Even in 2015, Tesla seats were not great. So, perhaps this talking point of Tesla having crappy seats has just been carried forward since then. But the reality has been flipped on its head, in my opinion, and I was happy to see this week that world-famous automotive engineer and teardown expert Sandy Munro agrees with me! (Watch the video chat with Elon starting at this point in the video, where he kicks off this topic by saying, “The seats in your car are phenomenal — absolutely phenomenal.”)
Elon explained part of the reason why it is that Sandy and I love the seats so much:
“What we’re really trying to do with the seat, and we put a lot of emphasis into this, is minimize any pressure peaks — so, it evens out the pressure. If your butt hurts it’s basically going to be because there’s some part of the seat that is producing a pressure peak, and that’s gonna just cut off your circulation and make your butt hurt.”
CleanTechnica had the lucky and unique opportunity of touring Tesla’s seat factory in Fremont, California, a couple of years ago. (As far as I know, no other media outlet has ever toured it.) The seat design and production — at least at the time — was led by executives who had previously worked at one of the world’s three main automotive seat manufacturers as well as at other premium automakers. One of the key notes I picked up was that, whereas other automakers have to basically buy one of the options on the menu from one of those major seat manufacturers, Tesla has the advantage of designing its own seats in a way that custom fits the interior design and goals of Tesla’s vehicles. Additionally, they can focus on improving them as the company sees fit — like in the way Elon discussed above.
For more on Tesla’s seats and Fremont seat factory, I recommend some of our previous articles on them as well as our video from touring the seat factory:
- Tesla’s Seat Heaven — Home Of Tesla’s Cloud-Like Seats
- Behind The Scenes At Tesla’s Seat Factory — #CleanTechnica Field Trip
- A Look Inside Tesla’s Fremont Automotive Factory — #CleanTechnica Field Trip
- Tesla’s Vertical Integration Unlocks Hidden Flexibility & Innovation — #CleanTechnica Field Trip