FREMONT, CA — The Tesla Model 3 has been billed as a groundbreaking car — and in one respect, the vehicle is: it doesn't have an instrument cluster.

Instead, all information in the vehicle is displayed on a 15-inch, horizontal touchscreen display, mounted in the middle of the dashboard. And unlike other car makers, Tesla hasn't shifted functions to the steering wheel. There are two control stalks and a pair of multi-purpose thumb wheels.

Rumours had swirled for months that Tesla would make this move, but we now have confirmation.

But the elimination of traditional interior elements in the Model 3 goes beyond the instrument cluster.

In fact, Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla's chief designer, stressed that the interior was in many ways the most satisfying, innovative, and radical part of the Model 3.

"Everything we do has to be beautiful, but it has to be functional," he said at a press conference before a handover ceremony at Tesla's Fremont factory on Friday, when the company delivered the first 30 Model 3s, mainly to Tesla employees.                     

Model 3 Dashboard EMBARGOED DO NOT USEThe left side of the touchscreen is where important information is displayed, such as speed and turn signals.Tesla

 

Because the Model 3 is technically a smaller car, Holzhausen said that a goal was to make the interior feel as big as possible. "Interior volume was important to us — it's a really great attribute."

Some critics have complained that Tesla's interiors havebeen too minimalistic. They aren't as upscale as those from other luxury automakers. Tesla has addressed that concerned, and with the Model 3 — base priced at $35,000 — the expectation for a lush and pampering interior isn't as high.

The clean and minimalistic design, Holzhausen added, enables the driver to concentrate on driving — or being driven, as the Model 3's hardware and software are engineered to deliver full autonomy.

"It doesn’t look like anything out there," he said. "It feels advanced, but not scary, and it will age gracefully."

This is the most minimalistic auto interior I've ever seen, so Holzhausen is right that it's unlike anything else out there. Have a look:

No button, no knobs, no gauges.

Model 3 Interior Dash EMBARGOED DO NOT USETesla

 

The open-grain strip of wood stretches from one end of the dash to the other.

Model 3 Dashboard Model 3 EMBARGOED DO NOT USETesla

 

Nearly the entire roof is made of two pieces of glass.

Model 3 Interior Glass Roof EMBARGOED DO NOT USETesla

 

This is the most minimalist back seat I've ever seen on a car at this level. But it's roomy and comfortable. The seats also folds down to extend space in the quite large trunk.

Model 3 Interior Rear EMBARGOED DO NOT USETesla