Once upon a time, you used to be able to walk into a car dealership and customize your car with options ala carte. Sure, there were packages like the Boss 302 Mustang or Chevelle SS, but there were a hell of a lot more individual options to pick from. These days everything is part of a bundle, so if you wanted a sunroof, well you also have to get the infotainment package and premium sound system.
It’s become one of the most annoying parts of new car shopping, as it’s almost impossible to get exactly that car you want. That is, unless, you’re buying a Tesla Model S. Unlike many carmakers, Tesla Motors lets you pick many of your options a la carte, hopefully bringing more customization back to car buying. For example, you can get the premium sound system without the air-ride suspension, or the dual wall chargers without the tech package, though you do need the tech package for options like the air-ride suspension, parking sensors, and fog lamps.
The only other caveat has to do with the P85 Performance package, which is a precursor for options like the carbon fiber spoiler and red brake calipers (both easily added by a third-party after the fact anyways). Other than that though, many of the options can be selected independently of another, with just 5 of the 20 option packages requiring a prerequisite package, allowing for greater customization than many new cars. It also helps that the Model S starts at $70,000, allowing Tesla to include many features, like 19-inch rims and an optional panoramic roof, standard.
Then again, GM suckered me into pay $525 so I could have a pair of USB slots on my Chevy Sonic, an option that literally costs pennies to install. I couldn’t just get those alone though, as I needed to get the whole Cruise and Connectivity package, which meant adding cruise control (NEVER use it) and Bluetooth connectivity. even though we already had a Bluetooth headset. If I had wanted fog lamps ($29.99 at AutoZone), I’d also have to get the bigger wheels for another $295.
Thanks, but no thanks.
While not as dramatic a change to the auto industry as Tesla’s direct sales campaign, I hope it’s an indicator of things to come from future electric vehicles. Electric vehicles could help usher in an even greater level of automotive customization that could rekindle the enthusiast spirit that seems to have evaporated from many brands. When you feel like you’ve made a car truly unique to you, it increases your sense of fondness and attachment, and makes you love the brand even more. Is it any wonder that Tesla owners are the company’s biggest advocates.