Budget as the basis of design: Case Tesla

How to maximize your budget?

We receive numerous requests for quotes a year on web renewals. All technical features associated with the service being developed are defined in the request, which will then work as the basis for the quote. Many times we will ask what the client’s budget is for the project. About ten per cent will shed at least some light on their budget.

Budget is important – and in many cases the most important – part of the design process. Why should you reveal your budget when requesting a quote, if you can save a few hundred euros by not giving it away?

The latest Tesla and IKEA furniture – what combines the two?

The Tesla Model 3 is the first electric car designed for the masses. The first customer deliveries were made at the end of July, when thirty cars found their way into new homes. The car was received amazingly well, which has been reported by many Finnish media.

The earlier Tesla models S and X are luxury models, costing about a little over and under a hundred thousand euros. The Model 3, however, is the first electric car that was made for as wide a range of users as possible. The car costs about 30 000 € and you can drive it for about 500 kilometers with a single charge. The goal is to revolutionize the entire private car transport.

Budget was the basis of design for the Model 3 – the car should cost less than 40 000 USD. Elon Musk wanted to build a car that as many drivers as possible could afford. This set the tone for a completely new dilemma for the designers. How is it even possible to design an electric car at that price?

The Model 3 is the MVP of electric cars (Minimum Viable Product). The designers have questioned every element found in a “regular car”. What do you really need gauges for? Can you re-think air-conditioning? Why do you need keys? The Model 3 has no gauges, you can start the car with your mobile, the engine is located under the car, and instead of having ventilators, the car has climate control run from a center console.

Tesla Model 3 tuoteannossa - redandblue
Photo: Tesla

The first cars were delivered to consumers at the end of July. How was the new model received?

“Teslan hullu nero yllätti autojätit housut kintuissa – Nyt uutuusmalli mullistaa automaailman” – Aamulehti

“The Tesla Model 3 has the most minimalistic interior I’ve ever seen” – Business Insider

“Model 3 changes everything” – Bloomberg

“The Tesla Model 3 is here, and it is the most important vehicle of the century. … With its affordability, stress-free range, and delightful driving qualities, I’m thinking that maybe this is where the second era of the car commences. Pause that thought.” – Motortrend.com

IKEA has a similar design philosophy to Tesla. Each product design begins with the price. The design and new ideas are created within the frames of the budget. The tighter the budget in relation to the qualities, the more imagination the designer has to use. Must a chair have legs? What about a seat? Can you make a chair out of something more affordable?

When designing a digital product or service, defining what you wish to accomplish with the end result, is more important than listing technical features.

A perfect brief entails a clear vision of what the product should do, and what the results should be, as well as a budget that will cover the whole project. With this recipe, you can create never-before-seen services, as well as unconventional and industry-shaking products.

Should you reveal your budget when requesting a quote?

You absolutely should. Start a project like Elon Musk! A budget is the mold for design, inside which you create all the ideas and innovations. By showing your cards, you will most likely get a better and more innovative quote.


redandblue - Petteri Laamo
The writer is the founder and strategist of redandblue.


Petteri Laamo
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