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My suggestion: perhaps you can order your car with the headliner to be supplied SEPARATE to the vehicle, that is, loose. That way you avoid the cost of having a custom shop remove and possibly damage it. A vinyl or similar barrier should be easily installed and may in fact be the finish material or could then be covered in a cotton or woolen fabric of your choice, with the custom shop "finishing" the vehicle construction. This would not involve any "customization" on Teslas part, and to accommodate a very unusual case, they might go for it to secure the sale!
What is the likelihood that Tesla could put the standard headliner in which is still an issue, but may be much easier to customize??
Basically, they wouldn't say it outright, but Tesla was saying things which I interpreted to mean that if I did take the headliner out and recover it, due to the integration of the airbags, they would then give me hassle. I wouldn't worry about that with any other car, but Tesla's basically got a monopoly on service at this point, and due to the distance of the nearest service center, Tesla charges a lot. Furthermore, since the headliner installation is nonstandard, I have no guarantee that a custom shop will even be able to do the replacement competently; if the headliner installation were by any of the typical methods, I wouldn't worry. If the car were cheaper, I also wouldn't worry, because there wouldn't be that much money wasted even if I had to write off the car entirely.
So, sort of a perfect storm of problems. At some point it's just not worth trying; after finding out the unusual manufacturing process for the headliner and the fact that it's integrated with the side curtain airbags, Tesla basically told me that they'd be adversarial rather than helpful if I tried to fix the problem, and that's a strong enough indication I should bail out.
If someone else successfully re-covers or replaces their headliner (and the microfiber on the dash and doors, since if I get a Standard I'll have to change that too) let me know and I'll get in line for a '14 model S. But I'm not going to be the first person to try to replace something installed in a brand new way where the manufacturer claims it can't be replaced.
Have you tried coating a surface with a hypoallergenic Paint?
hypoallergenic Allergy Friendly Certification Program Blog
I'm surprised that with these issues you have not found a auto customizer that can help you. I have a neighbor with similar allergies and they have over the years have hooked up with special people they have worked with for furniture and clothing.
The high end auto shops that do work for celebrities and have have TV shows can make better suggestions to suppliers than I ever could.
They can totally remove cover, coat, seal, or replace your headliner to perfection. That's what they do. You have a pattern (the old headliner) and they can make it airbag safe. They do it all the time. It's just a matter of you approving the materials and possibly the adhesives (of which there are many choices).
Why not spend a day with the local e-phonebook and call around to the major city auto upholsterers? If they are game then follow up with photos of the car interior (even take those yourself.) Have them visit the Tesla store, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever this can be solved after delivery of a completed car. These guys do cars, boats and airplanes. An EV should be cake.
Neroden, my only other thought for you is to maybe get together with someone who does get an early Model S delivery in your area and see if they are willing to take it (with you) to a couple of different after market shops so that those shops can physically see the car and give you a more accurate answer to what your potential options might be. My reservation number (P6398) wont come up until Q1 of 2013 and i am in the Chicagoland area or else I would gladly take a day for you to visit a few shops in the chicagoland area to see in-person what your options are (if any). Best of luck to you, hopefully it will work out for you down the road.
I would be happy to take mine (when it arrives) and show it to my friend at a particular Ford Dealership in CA. They have a tremendously successful, world renowned auto customization team there. I wouldn't be surprised if they could easily pimp your ride.
I'm with a lot of others on this thread that it should be possible to work something out. And that said, the smartest move on your part was to cancel your reservation and wait for someone with a car in hand to take it to a customization shop to see what can be done. At the very least you should be able to have someone just paint the alcantara with a clearcoat polyurethane seal. That would be crude, but it would work. A customizer will be able to do a much more aesthetically professional job with a greater selection of choices.
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