Tesla CEO Elon Musk Says To Expect Major Revisions To Tesla Vehicles Every 12 To 18 Months

5 months ago by Eric Loveday 58

Elon Musk Tweets On Revisions, Cost Of Autopilot Retrofit

Elon Musk Tweets On Revisions, Cost Of Autopilot Retrofit

In addition to announcing the Enhanced Autopilot rollout fleetwide, during his Tweet storm over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk basically stated that if you want lack of innovation, don’t buy a Tesla.

Well, okay, that’s not what he stated, but it sorta is…

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

When asked if retrofitting Autopilot 1 vehicles to Autopilot 2 hardware would be possible, Musk admitted that the amount of resources the automaker would have to devote to do these retrofit would slow the innovation of the entire company down.

Musk noted that Tesla intends to introduce major revisions to its vehicles every 12 to 18 months, which means if you buy a Tesla today, it may well be outdated a year or so from now. Hence the “buying the wrong car” comment from Musk.

Yes, it’s surely annoying to know that you’ll have an outdated product in just a short while, but innovation is what drives Tesla and staying ahead of the competition really is the only way for the electric automaker to stay in the game.

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58 responses to "Tesla CEO Elon Musk Says To Expect Major Revisions To Tesla Vehicles Every 12 To 18 Months"

  1. LEAF_AU says:

    I’ve read comparisons made between Apple and Tesla. This just reinforces that.

    1. KumarP says:

      This is a very poor comparison, as Brian explains further down.

  2. Alfred says:

    Yes, planned obsolescence, but with real innovation, not cosmetic innovation…

    1. Some Guy says:

      No it’s not obsolete like a smartphone that dies on you or does not support the software after a few years. Any Tesla is still an awesome car (even the early 2012 Model S or Roadster) by itself. Not to mention the free supercharging for life of most of the older models. Look how other car manufacturers do it. They hardly bring anything new, and when you drove of the lot, that’s the state your car is gonna be, unless some recall is issued for some safety related stuff. If Mercedes built a gasoline car and next year issued one with a more powerful engine, who would want to seriously buy a replacement engine to put in the existing car, when also brakes, exhaust system, electronics etc. need to be adjusted?

      1. unlucky says:

        There’s no reason to think it’ll run the latest software forever. And if your phone “dies on you” it’s because the battery died. This is a very similar situation with this car and the iPhone.

        Some day the software will no longer be updated because there is no money in it for Tesla to upgrade old cars and you’ll stick with the latest that works until your battery pack dies or you sell/crash the car.

        1. BenG says:

          Nope, there is no reason for Tesla to ever send a software ‘upgrade’ to older Model Ss that breaks them.

          At some point Tesla will stop sending upgrades, but the ‘last’ upgrade will work just fine as long as you keep the car running.

          1. unlucky says:

            No there is no reason to think Tesla will break old cars. And no one except Samsung (with the Note 7) sends releases to break old phones. They just stop getting updates and work with the last software they had. Same as will happen with these cars.

          2. Stimpy says:

            And smartphone vendors don’t do this either. Everything is not a conspiracy theory.

      2. MTN Ranger says:

        At some point when the supercharger 3.0 comes out – most likely the older cars will not be compatible. Then you need to buy a new car to take advantage of faster charging.

        1. koz says:

          Given there will be about 200K Gen1 Supercharging Teslas on US Roads and 350K across the world by end of 2017, I’m not too worried about the ability to Supercharge with my Model S anytime soon.

  3. unlucky says:

    Concentrating on new features on new cars is the right way to do. Retrofits is indeed a waste of resources the company can use better elsewhere.

    Making a retrofit pack for the Roadster which added even more range but no Supercharging was a good example of a bad use of their engineering time. How many upgrades can you sell at $29K for a $100K car when you only sold about 1,500 of the car in the first place?

    Tesla does seem to be narrowing their focus and this is a good thing. They’ll have to be a bit more conventional in some ways to meet the mainstream and this is a good step in that direction.

    1. SparkEV says:

      For old Roadster, one may be able to get Chademo charger called JDemo from quick charge power. Probably most who have roadster know about it, but here’s the link. It’s the most innovative after-market product in EV-sphere today.

      http://shop.quickchargepower.com/

      Similar could be done with other tech where after-market companies provide upgrade paths for high-in-demand features without Tesla directly getting involved.

    2. Nix says:

      The only reason why the Roadster upgrade made any sense at all was because of how few of them were ever built, and that you can’t buy a new one. So an upgrade is the only option to modernize.

      But when you can lease a Tesla Model S, and turn it in for a brand new Model S with all the new features after 3 years, it does seem silly to spend a ton of money on upgrades on a Model S.

      1. unlucky says:

        It still didn’t make sense. There is no need to modernize those cars. It is, as even Musk notes above, a waste of engineering resources.

        The total revenue from such a program might be, what, $10M? (300 upgrades, about 1/4 of all cars in existence). Subtract off the cost of the packs and you’re clearly not making money off it.

        Just let it go and work on new cars you’re looking to sell hundreds of thousands of.

  4. SparkEV says:

    Why is this even news? You don’t ask Toyota to retrofit old Tercel stereo, why would you expect even more of an upgrade from Tesla?

    Frankly, I’m glad Tesla is not going to waste resources to do major retrofits and focus on innovation. That will accelerate the drop of used car prices with older tech, allowing the poor(er) to afford Tesla. At this rate, my guesstimate that close to billion Tesla 3 will be on the road may not be far off.

    1. floydboy says:

      All those free OTA updates and Tesla’s ‘bend over backwards’ responsiveness when customers complained loud enough, have got people into a mode of asking from Tesla things they wouldn’t think of asking from other auto makers!

      Sort of, ‘If Tesla can do THIS for me, then they should be able to do THAT for me too’. Oh, and at ‘little or no cost to me’! Kind of forgetting that it’s a business, not a charity.

      Of course when people get “spoiled” like this and don’t get their way, then the recriminations start to fly from their mouths about how the value of their purchase is diminished or how unfair Tesla is to its customers by its actions or lack thereof.

      Looks like Elon’s finally giving people a bit of a reality check. Tesla is NOT going to sit on its laurels! I’m encouraged, can’t please everybody!

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Well said, floydboy.

        I’ve noticed the same thing regarding the speed of the Model X falcon-wing doors opening and closing. It’s about the same speed (within half a second) of our old Chrysler minivan’s power doors opening and closing, yet there were numerous complaints about how “slow” the FW doors were.

        Tesla’s innovations have lead all too many people to have unrealistic expectations about Tesla cars being better in every way than normal cars. In the real world, practical limitations still apply.

        And no, Tesla absolutely should not spend its resources building a major refit line to upgrade older Tesla cars. No auto maker does that. And I think it’s extremely unfair to call this “planned obsolescence”. Other auto makers make unnecessary styling changes for each new model year, resulting in non-standardization of parts and thus high cost for replacement parts.

        Tesla doesn’t pull that crap on its customers. When Tesla makes a hardware change to its cars, it’s for a good reason.

  5. Brian says:

    A car is not obsolete if it still performs the functions you need it to. It just doesn’t have all the features of a newer model.

    A phone becomes obsolete because updates are constantly forced upon it, and eventually the hardware cannot adequately run the new software. It is NOT because the phone would not serve its original purpose, except for the fact that it has been “tampered” with.

    Which raises the question about Tesla’s over-the-air software updates. Can you refuse an update? What happens when they try to push an update that stresses or exceeds the capabilities of your car? Is the car rendered inoperable in the same way an iPhone 4 would be running iOS 10? If that’s the case, Tesla would be a company to stay away from. But I can’t see them doing that to their owners.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      It isn’t that Tesla would “render a car inoperable”. We just went through the face full Tesla received when they backed off the power, just a little bit on limited P90Ds. That’s the parallel to Apple, and it seems owners concerns were, um, communicated. Tesla is taking the update that made its car something less, out.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Which raises the question about Tesla’s over-the-air software updates. Can you refuse an update?”

      Yes. The owner or driver has to authorize the car to accept a software update. In fact, I’ve read reports over on the Tesla Motors Club forum that some few have chosen to reload an older version of the software, because they were dissatisfied with the performance of a newer version. I think in most cases that’s just a temporary reset, with the driver waiting until Tesla makes wanted or needed improvements to the current version.

      “What happens when they try to push an update that stresses or exceeds the capabilities of your car?”

      Why would you even suggest that Tesla would do that? It makes no sense.

      Now, pjwood1 in his comment below does have a point about Tesla pushing the limits of the cars’ drivetrains in “upping the ante” on the stress that Launch Mode, and especially Ludicrous Launch Mode, puts on the cars. (Or at least I think that’s what he was referring to. I hope I’m not putting words in his mouth.)

      But regardless of how ill-advised it was, or is, for Tesla to keep pushing the limits of acceleration, Launch Mode is something the user chooses. You can leave it disabled if you don’t want to stress the drivetrain.

    3. unlucky says:

      An iPhone 4 won’t even try to load iOS 10. The oldest iPhone that iOS 10 even tries to install on is an iPhone 5.

      The iPhone 4 won’t even try to load iOS 8.

    4. Stimpy says:

      iOS updates are not forced. You have to approve every single one.

  6. Warren Hurd says:

    I love my outdated Volt. In fact it is several times outdated.

    1. Kdawg says:

      Remember when everyone cried foul when GM said they would not retro-fit old Volts to the new tech because it required hardware changes?

      Now that Tesla is saying the same thing.. “Oh it’s OK now”. πŸ˜€

      1. Taser54 says:

        That was my first thought. Spin Spin Spin.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        You’re seeing a difference here that I don’t see, at all.

        Yes, it was completely unrealistic of some Volt owners to suggest that GM should retrofit their Volt 1.0 with a Voltec 2.0 powertrain.

        And this very discussion thread started with someone making pretty much exactly the same complaint about Tesla also not performing an extensive hardware upgrade to existing cars.

        I think, Kdawg, your pro-GM bias is showing. I don’t recall all that many complaints about GM not upgrading Volt 1.0’s to Voltec 2.0 here at InsideEVs. Perhaps you’re thinking about posts to the GM-Volt.com forum?

        1. Kdawg says:

          I’m referring to a lot of sites on the interwebs.

        2. no comment says:

          at the very least, there were people who complained about the fact that the larger gen2 Volt battery pack could not be retrofit into a gen1 Volt. i recall seeing posts to that effect on insideevs. since you’re a tesla fanboy, i don’t find it to be particularly surprising that you might not have taken notice to those comments, but the comments by kdawg do have merit.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Yes, I do remember seeing a lot of complaints about not being able to upgrade the Volt’s battery pack. So that’s a good point, thanks.

            Apparently I was reading more into Kdawg’s comment than he intended. Mea culpa.

    2. no comment says:

      i recognize that the PHEV technology in the gen2 Volt includes a number of improvements over the gen1 Volt, but i think that the gen1 Volt is so much better designed than the gen2 Volt (both inside and out), that i feel no particular motivation to get rid of my gen1 Volt.

  7. Mark C says:

    Perhaps all the folks that want to upgrade could trade in their “obsolete(?)” current Model S….Upgrade complete!

    I’ll be frequently checking Tesla’s CPO website. Maybe a CPO car with free Supercharging for Life will come in at a price I can live with.

    1. That is what my coworker did: New (AP2) 90D, meet old (AP1) 90D, now shake hands and be a good sport! By By (1 yr) old 90D!

  8. Koenigsegg says:

    Will never understand these people that whine about not having a newer auto drive feature. Seriously. Sell your Tesla and call Uber for all your transportation needs. Human intelligence is declining at a rapid rate. Scary

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yes, the sense of entitlement among some of those rich enough to buy a new Tesla Model S or X, at times reaches a level which is shocking.

      But hopefully that’s only a small minority of the rich. I do know a family who became rich by winning big in the lottery, and thankfully their basic values haven’t changed.

      1. no comment says:

        apparently some tesla buyers paid deposits of up to $40,000 for the model S, sight unseen. so it isn’t surprising that tesla owners might expect more because they did stuff in their dealings with tesla that they probably would not have done when dealing with any other auto maker. furthermore, bob lutz is correct when he noted that there is a “cult” aspect in the tesla customer base, and one of the downsides of a cult perspective is that the cult “members” expect more than they would otherwise.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          The only people still posting comments about an imaginary Tesla “cult” are those who, like you “no comment”, are members of an actual cult: the cult of hardcore serial Tesla bashers.

  9. Euro point of view says:

    The downside is the value of used Tesla that will drop dramatically

    1. KumarP says:

      The upside is cheaper used Teslas πŸ˜€

      1. Euro point of view says:

        πŸ™‚

    2. Some Guy says:

      With free super-charging for life (of the car), and AP 1 available in many vehicles, I doubt that there will be a large loss in resale value. Baseline is always the current cost of the model with similar range. Sure, one could go for a Model 3, but this one is sold out for quite a while unless one has registered one already.
      In addition, even a 2012 Model S still has quicker acceleration than most 2017 ICE cars (or many “announced” 2020 competitor EVs for that matter).

      1. Mister G says:

        I’ll sell you my model 3 reservation for $10,000 cash

      2. EndResult says:

        The free super charging for life was to the original purchaser – I can see that as being one of Tesla’s not too distant future moves now that a fee has been set for new buyers – one step at of time, they do not want the resell value of their cars to drop too fast.

        1. stan1 says:

          Incorrect, the car carries free super charging for its life.

        2. koz says:

          Not true. Free with car for life of vehicle.

      3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “…I doubt that there will be a large loss in resale value.”

        Yes, that seems overly alarmist. If there was going to be a significant drop in the resale value of older Model S’s, then I think that trend would already have shown up.

        It’s pretty well known that used Model S’s have kept a surprisingly high percentage of their resale value. Even if you get a Model S with no Autopilot at all, it’s still a Model S! It’s still the car with the best customer satisfaction rating of any car on the market, according to Consumer Reports.

  10. KUD says:

    I guess eventually old tech Tesla’s will get down to my price range. It’s all good.

  11. leafowner says:

    Old Tesla model S > brand new Toyota Avalon

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Exactly what I was thinking! So, you have an older Model S that can no longer be upgraded.

      But you’re driving a Tesla Model S! That calls for congratulations, not complaints.

      1. no comment says:

        it is very risky to make too many analogies to software because automobiles are very different from software, but one of the ways that microsoft encouraged people to adopt windows 10 was to tell them that microsoft was going to cease supporting windows 7. you can’t really do that with an automobile. consequently, the tesla strategy means that tesla could face some very tricky (and potentially expensive) product support challenges, because with major innovations coming every year and a half, after not very long, tesla could find itself having to concurrently support a lot of different model S/X versions.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I agree that an analogy with obsolescence in software is not useful.

          I’m someone who hung onto Windows 95 for as long as I could, and I’m still running Windows XP despite the fact that newer versions of Javascript no longer work on the platform. I’ve been forced to upgrade my operating system more than once, because it’s so obsolete it won’t properly display a lot of websites, nor will it run newer versions of software.

          There isn’t any equivalence there with a passenger car S. Failing to have the software updated isn’t going to limit the ability to do anything that cars are called to do. Not updating the software won’t limit the roads you can drive on, nor the number of passengers you can carry, nor cause the size of the luggage space to shrink.

          1. Stimpy says:

            But it certainly will leave you open to flaws that allow attackers to mess with your car. Hopefully not affecting the powertrain, but as Chrysler showed that is possible in some cases even with “dumb” cars.

            Same is true with XP. Taking that OS onto the internet today is very risky and unwise.

  12. ffbj says:

    Off Topic: I think one of the drone ships should be named: “All your bases are belong to Us!”

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      At the risk of nitpicking: The actual quote is “All your base are belong to us.”

  13. acevolt says:

    I would like to know if they will offer battery upgrades at some point in the future? That would require a lot less engineering effort.

  14. Mister G says:

    GO TESLA GO

  15. SilveradoCyn says:

    This is no different than any other car. You can’t add Airbags to your ’72 Caddy, or ABS to your ’67 mustang without major custom work. Technology is always changing. If you want to always have the latest and greatest you have to be ready to abandon what you already have.

  16. no comment says:

    i think this compares to what any automobile makers does, but on a sped up time frame. an auto maker will typically introduce a new version of a car, which will include new technology, but also a revised design. then they will stick with variations of that new (now current) version for 5 or 6 years. i think that what tesla is saying is that, for tesla, the interval will be more like 18 months. one difference is that i would not expect to see full redesigns of cars, but new technologies and other improvements associated with technology improvements.

    in a couple of respects, this is a good business decision. in the first instance, trying to maintain compatibility with previous versions of any product increases the cost of developing new products. not only are there the issues of product design, but the need to perform regression testing in previous car versions to make sure that everything works as specified.

    in the second instance, it is a way for tesla to sell more cars because there are going to be people who will want the latest version and will trade in their previous version. this increases revenue to tesla because they can sell a new car instead of having to deal in $10,000 or $20,000 revenue increments for upgrades.

    the main drawback that i can see with this plan is that tesla will have a lot more automobile versions that they will have to support concurrently. this would have the effect of driving up the cost of product support.

  17. Alex says:

    New Apple, best would be a flatrate you get a new Tesla every year :-D.

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