Data Plans

Data Plans

It has been a long time since I have heard anything about the data plans. Is there any news other than there will be one and it will cost you extra? I am considering getting a new iPad on Verizon which comes with 4G tethering. With the obvious drawback that I will not have the car connected when the iPad is not in the car and the car is not near wi-fi, is there any other reason to think connecting the car through the iPad would be less useful?

Nick Kordich | May 19, 2012

You may not be able to use the smartphone app's location finding and remote control features while away from the car. Aside from that, I think it's safe to assume that streaming apps and Google Maps will have full functionality.

I don't know what Verizon will be charging Tesla owners for in-car connectivity, but I suspect it will be the same as a generic hotspot. Audi's built-in WiFi hub runs $50/month (I don't think that's via Verizon, I just mention it for comparison).

As you mentioned, Verizon includes hotspot capability with their tablets, currently at no extra chage except for any data overages. Tablets have the option of starting off at a lower rate than generic mobile hotspots ($30/2GB, instead of $50/5GB), so if you're not going over 2-3GB a month, that may save you $10-20/month. That could make up for the $130 premium on the 4G feature of the iPad,over the course of a year, and I think a tablet with 4G is far more useful than a car-bound 4G connection.

The iPad data plan's month-to-month, so there's no commitment. If it falls short in some way, you can go with the Model S' integrated connection at a later date and cancel the tablet's data plan, while still having the option to reactivate it later. I did not get the 4G option on my iPad, but as you are, I'm thinking it could be a nice way to approach Tesla connectivity.

One more thing - talk to your Verizon rep about the upcoming shared data plan and how it would affect you. They are switching over to the shared plan in July, and if there's a difference, you'll want to be able to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, the odds are they won't be able to say anything until shortly before its available.

DrJ | May 20, 2012

I just went through this. I emailed Tesla reps almost weekly for last 2 months for info on possible carriers/3gor 4g speed? They know nothing - said still negotiating data plans with possible carriers, and that "So far the engineers have 4g on their wish list, but the only thing they have worked with so far has been 3g." My take on this was they may not announce plans for connectivity until this summer, and that it'll likely be 3g. So I went ahead with the Verizon 4g let iPad. Figured if data plan is better on Model S then I'll use it, o/w the 4g ipad will be used as a hotspot for the car. Depends on what the connectivity is needed for in the end. 3g may be fast enough for the car, but I have to say the 4g lte on the Verizon iPad is wicked fast - 20 Mbps down/20 Mbps up, and sometimes faster. After experiencing it, 3g on the car might seem painfully antiquated.