Unlike most automakers, Tesla often makes changes to its vehicles without waiting for new model year updates. It introduces small design changes or big new features without any notice.
Those are normally welcomed changes, but Tesla has updated the Model 3 interior this week with a new headliner material and it has become somewhat of a controversial move.
The main aspect of the problem might not be the change of material itself, but the fact that Model 3 buyers are not getting what they thought they were ordering.
While Tesla has never officially confirmed what material will be used in the Model 3’s interior, they have released pictures of an Alcantara-like material. They have also announced in the productions specs that the $5,000 ‘Premium Upgrades Package’, which is the only one in production today, includes ‘premium materials’.
Here are the official Model 3 interior pictures that Tesla released where you can clearly see what looks like Alcantara headliner:
But now, Model 3 buyers taking delivery this week are being surprised with a new headliner material made of a sort of weaved textile – old one on the left and new one on the right (images via @worstofthymes):
Tesla confirmed the change in a statement to Electrek today:
“As we continue to increase production of Model 3 and produce more high quality cars for customers, all Model 3 vehicles are being made with the same premium textile headliner found in our flagship Model S and Model X vehicles, which has always been planned at this stage of production.”
The new “premium textile headliner” is apparently the same used in Tesla’s Model S and Model X, but it’s not clear when that change was made. I have a 2017 Model S in my driveway right now and it has the usual Alcantara (or Alcantara-like) headliner.
In terms of “quality”, I honestly wouldn’t declare that one is more premium than the other. I know that suede-like material like Alcantara is generally considered to be more premium in cars, but I’ve personally never cared for it and I’ve seen other materials used in similar classes of vehicles.
It’s more of a subjective thing. Some swear by it and others think it looks cheap (and hard to clean).
I am more concerned about the issue of knowing what Model 3 reservation holders are buying. The change was unexpected and it’s not surprising that some people will be disappointed.
I think the issue comes from the fact that most Model 3 buyers are currently buying sight unseen since they have to rely on pictures and videos – and those images have so far led people to believe that they would get Alcantara even though Tesla never explicitly said that.
Once Tesla has more representative display Model 3 vehicles that buyers can see and experience before placing their orders, it should fix some of those issues.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.