The Best Part Of Buying A Tesla? Options A La Carte


tesla-design-studioOnce 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.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • J_JamesM

    I once made a car USB charger with a sturdy pair of pliers, an obsolete phone charger that was thrown away, some wiring, and a cigarette lighter.

    Works like a charm. Didn’t cost me a penny. Sounds like you got shafted.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      Considering that dual USB chargers that plug into the cigarette lighter/accessory power outlet have been available for 5-10$ for a long time it would seem that the 525$ upgrade was quite the shaft. Even if you want the sync with the radio/entertainment system that can easily be done through the auxiliary input or Bluetooth sync, or more primativaly one of the FM broadcast links. All of which are twenty bucks or less, but to each their own, this just isn’t an upgrade that interests me especially at that kind of price.

  • Jim Smith

    Does Nissan do this with the Leaf? BMW with the i3? or are they the normal package buys?