Tesla's "Soon"

Tesla's "Soon"

Tesla likes to use the word “soon” when referring to the time when some feature or improvement will be released. Often, the word has elicited some sarcasm.
I want to make the case, why we should meet this term with anticipation, not disappointment.
Let’s put it in perspective and think about what Tesla’s “Soon” has meant in the past.

First and foremost: The Model S
To some, having a fully usable EV in 2012, a century after the first ones whirred about alongside the puttering Model A, may not seem very “soon”. But Tesla’s feat of building a vehicle as outstanding as the Model S from scratch is a massive achievement, and doing it in as short a time as they did, puts a “general relativity” to their use of the word “soon”. With a traditional automotive manufacturer, the Model S would still be in development today, but Tesla already has - what, 50,000 of them? - on the roads. So *everything* that comes online for that car is not only “soon”, but before its time.
Superchargers: For obvious reasons their individual activation cannot be tied to a date. There are too many moving parts outside of Tesla’s control. “Soon” seems to be a perfectly appropriate term in this context. We know they are working on it as quickly as they can. The build-up of the current network over less than two years is further proof, that “soon” is a relatively short time span when taken in relation to the accomplishment.
Software upgrades: This is, as far as I know, completely uncharted territory. Never before has a manufacturer built in the capability to affect improvements to an existing fleet simply by pushing new software to the cars. Yet we have seen several upgrades a year since the first Model S rolled off the line. Considering that software upgrades to a vehicle participating in open traffic must meet with a level of scrutiny that far outstrips that given to commercial software, getting this done at all is amazing. “Soon” is an understatement, as far as I’m concerned.

Of course we always like to get tomorrow’s improvements yesterday. Applying the “general relativity” outlined above to Tesla’s “Soon”, we actually are.

jordanrichard | August 22, 2014


Some people here can often sound like kids in the back seat saying, "...are we there yet". The mere fact that Tesla saying soon is them saying you are getting this, that is a certainty.

Even if and this has happen "soon" turns into a year, that's sooner than what you would get on any other car. Any improvements, tweaks, added features is a bonus.

Haggy | August 22, 2014

In the 1937 Disney film, Snow White asks the dwarfs when they last washed their hands. "Recently," they replied. In the context of washing for dinner, it didn't seem be so reassuring. I think "soon" seems to have taken on the same air of vagueness.

I don't want Tesla's use of "soon" to fall into the same category, and I'm sure that Musk wishes he never gave an indication that 6.0 was days away, especially since that happened many months ago. But I'd rather see it late and working than early and leaving me hoping that 6.1 will do nothing but fix 6.0.

That doesn't mean I blame anybody for wishing it were sooner though. What one wishes for and what's realistic don't have to be the same.

sbeggs | August 22, 2014

Oh, no! You mention the dwarves and then inevitably, our minds start revolving around attempting to remember each of their 7 names....

Tiebreaker | August 22, 2014

I like "soon" better than "next model year".

NKYTA | August 22, 2014

+1 Tiebreaker

donaldmeacham1 | August 22, 2014

+1 I marvel at the speed at which this transformational company and its products have evolved. I have difficulty realizing how quickly things are moving. All of us who are invested in Tesla ( by virtue of ownership, investors or just following the forum) are watching history develop and can say that we "saw the future"

Rocky_H | August 22, 2014

Blizzard (maker of Starcraft, Warcraft, World of Warcraft, printer of money...) was famous among game developers for not doing release dates. Other companies would have some game pre-announced that it would be available for Christmas of some year, and so they would rush to try to get it finished, and features would be kind of broken or they would be buggy. When Blizzard was asked when they would be releasing a game or expansion, they would say, "It will be released when it is ready." And their games are some of the most polished and fantastic in the industry. I do kind of wish that Tesla would adopt some of that attitude and stop giving rosy projections that get people's hopes up. Establish the realism that it will be released when they feel it is right, and don't build expectations until you actually see it.

Red Sage ca us | August 22, 2014

From the perspective of General Motors, or the Detroit Big Three, or the traditional automotive industry as a whole, everything that has been accomplished by Tesla Motors thus far has occurred 'Way Too DAMNED SOON', it seems...

It is a matter of perspective. For competitors it is laced with prejudice. For customers it is covered with pride.

centralvalley | August 22, 2014

Our life experiences and cultures frequently prejudice our definitions of inexact and nebulous modifiers. I am 5' 9", so anyone over 6-2 (to me, anyway) is "tall." I would suspect that many people 6-2 would not consider themselves "tall," especially if many of their friends are 6-4 or so.

Similarly, "soon" has different meanings to each and everyone of us. And the more we anticipate for something good to happen, the shorter "soon" becomes! (I remember when my wife went into labor with our first child. The obstetrician said delivery was soon. Turned out "soon" was 48-50 hours!)

J.T. | August 22, 2014

@centralvalley If Elon was your OB/GYN your wife would have been in labor for 7 weeks.

dborn | August 22, 2014

Soon seems to be around 2 months. Oh, wait, only for certain things! | August 22, 2014

TM should replace the "Coming Soon", "2014" and "2015" on the Supercharger map with "Soonest", "Sooner" and "Soon." That would be consistent with the fine-print caveat below the map, and would acknowledge that they won't literally, exactly, meet their 2014 live-Supercharger goals. TM has no control over local planning and building departments or power utilities, alas.

J.T. | August 23, 2014

@Pettifogger +1

info | August 23, 2014

I like sooner, that way people in Oklahoma can get some love, too. Lord knows, they need it. | August 23, 2014

@diegoPasadena - nicely stated!

To me, soon = the future!

NKYTA | August 23, 2014

"Soon" ~= "in the twinkling of Elon's eye"

Red Sage ca us | August 23, 2014

centralvalley: People have been telling me I was 'tall' since I was like, eight years old. I realize now that at the time I was taller than my Mom, who is a towering 5'-2"... I've probably been taller than my Mom since second grade. My Dad was 5'-9", and these days I'm 6'-1". You are correct, I don't see myself as 'tall' at all. From my perspective, I'm 'normal height'. My Friends who are 6'-3", 6'-4", 6'-7", 6'-8", 6'-9"... those guys are 'tall'.

Brian H | August 24, 2014


edcalis | August 24, 2014

Planning. Working tirelessly. HOPE.

DarrellH | August 25, 2014

We've had our S for 2 years this Saturday. We LOVE "soon" every time it is used. It may take a while but when it happens, we are thrilled. Anticipation is FUN!

Rheumboy | August 25, 2014