Navigation without the Tech Package

Navigation without the Tech Package

I'm about to buy an MS but struggling to make a decision on the Tech Package. My primary interest is the navigation--the other features are nice to have. With the v5 updates to the firmware, it seems that it may be good enough navigation without Tech even though it doesn't have turn-by-turn directions. Does it seem likely that the google map capability on the touch screen will evolve such that the better Garmin features will be less important?

jq5073 | 13. September 2013

It does not seem likely to me.

I think most here would agree that the tech package is basically a no-brainer on the Model S.

Devin B | 13. September 2013

Get the tech package. The automatic keyless entry and the light door handles are my favorite feature and the daytime LED running lights look so great!

Mathew98 | 13. September 2013

Without the tech package, the screen will show you Google map and optional traffic or satellite overlays.

If you just like the know the traffic pattern to your destination that it would do just fine. However, if you need directions or alternate routes info then you will need the tech pkg to use the navigation function. | 13. September 2013

I am also a fan of the tech package for some of the little stuff like the auto-present door handles and the like. Remember that Google Maps is going to be dependent on internet access so if you lose access you lose nav.

One other thing to consider is potential future-proofing. Some of the newer options like the infamous parking sensors require the tech package. This might be the case for future enhancements too, so having the tech package might make it easier for retrofits.


Eletrek | 13. September 2013

Get the tech package!

stevenmaifert | 13. September 2013

The Google map will still show your destination without the tech package. If you can self navigate to the general area, you can eyeball it the rest of the way. It is even made easier with 5.0 that will allow you to orient the Google map in your direction of travel.

odellj | 13. September 2013

OP here, with Tech, does the Garmin GPS become the source for the maps on the large display or just the small map in the main dashboard?

stevenmaifert | 13. September 2013

I don't have the tech package, but still have Google maps on the touchscreen. Reading from posts on other threads, I believe the maps on the dashboard screen are generated by the Navigon (owned by Garmin) software.

chrisdl | 13. September 2013

The Garmin maps are only shown in the instrument panel, not on the 17" screen. 17" always uses Google Maps and 3G to download the data.

odellj | 13. September 2013

of course, one needs GPS the most when you lose 3G...

PaceyWhitter | 13. September 2013

If you want nav without the tech package you can use your smartphone connected to car audio through bluetooth, but that is a kludgey workaround.

SCCRENDO | 13. September 2013

Truthfully the present navigation is moderate, but I am hopeful improvements will come. Still have 4.5 not 5.0. It doesn't really take into account traffic patterns when directing you although you can see the patterns on the screen. Even then satellite view can take a while to update. I turn off satellite when the patterns look questionable. I personally like having screen directions rather than looking at a cell phone and am prepared to pay extra for whistles and bells but if I need serious navigation through Southern California traffic Magellan on my Iphone is much more useful and reliable.

SamO | 13. September 2013

The Tech Package seems like the key to future upgradeability.

This is not based on anything Tesla has decreed.

But if you want the parking sensors. Need Tech.

If you want autopilot. Eventually, you'll need the tech package. | 13. September 2013

The Garmin uses an on-board mapping database for NA--the tech package includes free updates for 7 years.


DallasTXModelS | 13. September 2013

You have to remember the Google maps do not show if you lose 3G connectivity. The other thing you get is the tailgate opens by itself and can be set to stop before it hits your overhead door or gets to high for shorter drivers to reach to close it. It does include 7 years of update maps. I have paid as much for Nav radios on other cars but still was expected to pay $199 a year for map updates.

Kaboom | 13. September 2013

"the tech package is basically a no-brainer on the Model S"

perhaps i am in the minority here, but I thought the Tech package is almost completely NOT worth it for me. Many other cars their tech package is worth it, but not the MS. Here in canada that comes out to over $4000 upgrade on its own, plux taxes.

- dim lights on door handles....not neccessary for me
- daytime running LED lights.....not needed, and i feel it goes against the whole green thing
- keyless entry...yeah, i think its kind of cool, but I can push a little button on a fob. Of course it will be tricky to locate the fob in my pocket around the extra $4000 i'm not spending
- heated side and rearview mirrors .. never had an issue with this, and i live in canada...and why isnt this feature in the 'cold weather package' where it belongs
- power lift gate...again, somewhat cool, but for that money i can lift that
- memory seats.... i like, but since i will be driving 98% of time i can live without.
- As for the NAV, keep in mind without tech you still get to see the maps, and your car GPS position on that map. Thats all i ever would need. The only thing you dont get is the route display, or a voice telling you when to turn.

For me, not getting the tech just means i have to push a button to unlock car, and open liftgate on my own, and once every two months adjust my seat.

For that 'hassle', i'd rather put that money to better invensting it in TSLA.....maybe by time i get my next car that will pay for it :)

stevenmaifert | 13. September 2013

It is rumored... yes I know... that the now unused flash memory that was once going to be used to store music, will be activated to store cached Google maps, thus allowing their continued use in the event of a temporary loss of data connectivity. We'll see.

TeslaOR | 13. September 2013

My 2 cents on this is that the in-dash map function is pretty cool but for most navigation situations, the Google MAP is in many ways better. Google Maps is very a familiar interface from other devices and the larger overview it provides is very helpful.

Windsurfer | 13. September 2013

@Kaboom: agree with you entirely. My Model S arrives on Monday. I'm planning on using my car only for local commuting, so don't see the need to spend thousands of dollars for turn by turn directions. Sometimes there is a virtue in simplicity, and not having the tech package frees up funds for other features that might actually make a difference. For me, that's the air suspension to raise the car when I'm driving the dirt roads at my farm.

Lighted door handles? Daytime running lights? Self opening hatchbacks? Self presenting door handles? These are, let's face it, luxury items, not "must haves."

diegoPasadena | 13. September 2013

@Kaboom: You don't need to press anything on the FOB to open the car. Just press the handle with the FOB buried in your pocket among all those hundred dollar bills. The only time you need to press is to lock.

@PaceyWhitter: The iPhone solution is not so kludgey at all. The phone connects automatically when you enter the car. Instead of keying in my destination in the car, I speak it into the phone, and Google Maps app's turn-by-turn navigation comes through nice and clear via bluetooth. There are no additional buttons to push. The only difference I can see is that the iPhone doesn't sit as comfortably in my eye line - but then I always use the Tesla's Map at the same time anyway.
Of course, when you drive somewhere without cell coverage, you're out of luck. Then you have to have your trusty old Garmin with you.

mitchdbs | 13. September 2013

I don't have the tech package, but on the few occasions when I need turn by turn... I have no problem setting the destination on my smartphone and just sending it through the S sound system by setting the phone as a media device in addition to a phone.

Kaboom | 13. September 2013

thanks for the tip. Didnt even know that. So the only thing the 'keyless' entry does is slide the door handles out as you approach?

I thought the tech package is required for the air suspension

Dramsey | 13. September 2013

I'm a little fuzzy on the whole "Google Maps nav vs. Garmin nav" thing.

I know if I press and hold the right steering wheel button and say "Navigate to [wherever]", that I'll get Google nav on the main screen.

I also know that this nav is dependent on a 3G connection.

What I don't know is how to use the Garmin nav that displays on the left side of the instrument screen...

My car has the tech package but has not been delivered yet.

mikeah007 | 14. September 2013

Tech Package is a no brainer

mrspaghetti | 14. September 2013

Daytime running lights are worth a discount on insurance, I believe. Not sure how much.

I have to agree that Google navigate is much better than the navigation provided by the tech package in my short experience, but the convenience of having it built-in so you don't have to mess with a separate device probably still makes it worthwhile IMO. I was using 4.5, so maybe it's better on 5.0

Fred O | 14. September 2013

@kaboom re air and tech. This requirement was added only recently to the US website. It is not - yet - required on the European site. Tesla did increase the price of air from €1600 to €2300. All in all I think this not a real technical requirement but a marketing trick.

eking | 14. September 2013

I went ahead an ordered Tech but not based on any of the things they normally tell you. What I was told yesterday during my meeting with a manager is that the Tech package back up camera is HD versus the other which is not. I was also told that you only get the traffic overlay (showing which streets are green, which are congested) if you get Tech. Those were important to me. Finally they only let you get the sensors if you buy the Tech Package which is such a bummer but that basically pushed me over to getting it. Has anyone else been told these things?

Fred O | 14. September 2013

I read somewhere the HD camera is now standard on all cars. More and more options are depending on the tech package.

MarioA | 14. September 2013

New buyers should be aware that the Navigation system is basically non-funtioning in version 5. Hopefully they will come up with a fix soon but new buyers should be prepared to have an alternative means of GPS until they work things out.

suratchai | 14. September 2013

I know the tech package is expensive but its really comes in handy. The Navi is something that you need to learn so I would set a route you already know and learn the Navi from that. the DLRS its looks nice in gray, Multi-Red, white. The Cornering lights turns on when turning the steering wheel from 5-24 or 25 MPH and also in reverse. The automatic keyless entry is nice to have but I found out it works better when walk up to the MS from the front. The lighted door handed is good when parked in a dark place. The power liftgate is great when parked in the garage you can set the hight of the trunk. The gps homelink is great when you need to open your gate or garage when you get near the gate or garage the homelink icon will pop down. The Driver Profile is great when having many driver or you can set one for yourself and another when you EXIT. I love the tech package so you should too.

NICE | 14. September 2013

I never needed the Tech package. I use the WAZE iPhone app. It's an active social Map app. You get Navigation plus road alerts from fellow users. Police traps, traffic, obstacles, weather etc.

Xerogas | 14. September 2013


I do not have the tech package, and I do see traffic conditions overlaid on the center console google maps.

stevenmaifert | 14. September 2013

@eking - Xerogas is correct. You were misinformed by the Tesla rep about that and the HD backup camera, which is now standard on all ModS. It is sad to say, but you are more likely to get accurate info about ModS from owners on the forums than you are from the in-store reps.

eking | 14. September 2013

Thank you Xerogas and Stevenmaifert--I'm really disappointed that I was misinformed so badly bc I was leaning against getting it for the reasons that a) I do not need "turn by turn" navigation info. I live in Houston and know the city and all the shortcuts really well. The only utility to a map for me is to see where traffic is congested; b) the backup camera being HD seemed like a plus. Now to know that this was standard once again I am not seeing the value. I did want parking sensors bc I have got very used to them over the past five years on my range rover but honestly, probably would not have spent $3500 on it had I known that. I already confirmed the order so I am not sure what I can do change it at this point other than to complain that I was misinformed and not too psyched about doing that either frankly b/c I want it to be a positive buying experience. Oh well. It seems like the people who have it like it but I am not exactly sure why. I can push my own key to open the door. lol :)

mrspaghetti | 15. September 2013


I think you'll enjoy having some of the things that come with tech even if you don't really 'need' them. Power rear lift gate, xenon headlights and daytime running lights are my favorites. I don't think you'll be disappointed, but if you are I'll gladly give you a full refund of my 'opinion fee' :-)

eking | 15. September 2013

Thanks @mrspaghetti. I am sure I will love all the bells and whistles. And I sort of decided last night that I am not going to complain about being misinformed as I am sure it was unintentional. At this point I am just counting down the days until it arrives. :)

gill_sans | 23. September 2013

+1 @diegoPasadena

We skipped the tech package. Like @diegoPasadena said, your phone syncs with the S automatically when you get in the car, then you can just tell your phone to navigate and you'll hear the turn-by-turn directions over your Model S speakers via Bluetooth. We do see green-yellow-red traffic overlays on the car's map, as well as on my phone.

One annoyance is that the Model S doesn't mix the phone's audio with other audio, so we can't listen to music off our USB stick or off Internet (via Model S touchscreen selection) when using my phone's turn-by-turn navigation -- we get either music, or turn-by-turn nav, not both. However a workaround is to install the TuneIn app or similar on your phone and then you can listen to music and get turn-by-turn nav, all playing and mixing nicely through your car's speakers (music fades down when voice comes on to tell you where to turn, then fades back up when voice is done), but I haven't done this much because this swiftly turns into texting-while-driving which is illegal in the state of California and, more importantly, dangerous.

The other tech package amenities didn't warrant its price, for us.

stevenmaifert | 24. September 2013

Nine months without Tech... no regrets!

bigez1 | 24. September 2013


As you clearly see, you'll get both ends of the spectrum as to the worth of Tesla's tech package. Additionally, both sides make very valid points based on their needs and priorities. However, as someone who has owned 2 Model Ss, (one with and one without the tech package) I can tell you with no uncertainty that if you ever plan on selling your car, DEFINITELY get the tech package. After listing my car for sale, the number one question by a large margin was "does your car have the tech package?". It appeared to be the only option most potential buyers couldn't live without. Fortunately, I priced my car reasonably and it sold quickly, but IMO the resale market will demand the tech package. Cheers....

Windsurfer | 24. September 2013

I've had my Model S 60 (leather, air suspension, multicoat red) without tech for 5 days now. The GPS works great. I got the 60 because I have no need or plans to take it on long trips; it is a local commuter, and like the OP, I know my local roads so don't need turn by turn. Agree with others that the technology in smart phones advances faster than car GPS's, so I can tell you that the navigation WITHOUT the tech package is perfectly adequate. You still get the traffic info from Google and an excellent display. If you need turn by turn for part of your trip, use your smart phone.

Also, in the resale market, FWIW, most options do not hold value well over time.

ABhatia | 05. November 2013

Get the Tech Package

bctaggar | 24. März 2015

I bought a $100 Garmin and stuck to the windshield to avoid the $5000 cost of Tesla navigation.
I may be well off but not crazy enough to pay $5000 for navigation that a Garmin or my smartphone can do for free. All my neighbors and coworkers laugh at me. Bad publicity for Telsa is my take. None of my coworkers or neighbors have bought one themselves when they see me with my $80000 Tesla with a Garmin GPS and wires hanging from the windshield. They even tell their friends about my situation whenever Tesla comes up in a conversation. What a hoot. I am an engineer. There are always workarounds. For the cost of a $100 Garmin to save $5000 is a no brainer....Life goes on. I still love my Telsa and think Elon is the man.

Groeneweg | 25. März 2015

Navigation should have been included standard since day one. The expectation was that eventually the car would include some level of energy prediction and recharge assistance. Without a navigation system, this system would be difficult to implement properly since it would not have the complete route mapped out.

I would do what I have done, and that is to send a letter to Tesla requesting a reasonable upgrade price for non-nav cars for all!

Thanks Elon

stevenmaifert | 26. März 2015

No Tech package so no nav. I'm not expecting much out of 6.2, but will be happy if I get a few more station presets in the radio :)

Srl30 | 26. März 2015

I chose to not take the tech package as per ordering date it was basically navigation and some gadgets. As the car is à lease model and i'm already paying extra, paying 4000 for four years of navigation just sounded as à bad deal. The Google Maps works pretty well, but offcourse you lose connection when you most need it at some point.

However, after september last year, al autopilot functionality and the upcoming energy trip navigation options are dependenti on the tech package. This changes the balance for me. I would certainly take the tech package when ordering now, even in à lease setup.

mallynb | 26. März 2015

21 months without tech. Nav is the only feature in tech that would have been useful for us. However, we found that the map suffices when we get close to our destination. Our GPS still works. We've used it 4 or 5 times. Our garage door remote still works. We use it every day. I'm glad we didn't spend the money for tech!

Fredhmartin | 28. März 2015

Yeah, I don't have Nav on mine. I'm fine without TBT since my iPhone works fine for that. However, I think the Range anxiety features would be nice to have. I'd like to hear what Tesla can do to add Nav to old cars as a retrofit for a price. I'm willing to pay for it if it's a reasonable price. All new cars now come with Nav (tech package not required).

I've heard that Nav is cheap to add if car has premium sound. If not, then the center screen doesn't have enough memory. Wondering if tesla can add required memory.

tcandmm | 28. März 2015

Nav IS now a standad feature in all Model S and no longer an option in the tech package, check out the build website.

mjt.private | 28. März 2015

I can't imagine any second-hand buyer choosing a no-tech-pack car if there is a tech-pack one. Technology is one of the strong appeals of the car. I suspect that will mean the price differential will be significant in the long run.

A young chap in our office bought a Honda Civic Type R demonstrator. He got a really good price on it, but it didn't have air-con. When he came to sell it he could give the thing away.

Each to his one, but may be you can spoil the ship for a hap'orth of tar.

Fredhmartin | 28. März 2015

Thanks tcandmm

That's what I said above.