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An open letter To Mr. Elon Musk regarding fog lights

An open letter To Mr. Elon Musk regarding fog lights

An open letter To Mr. Elon Musk, Chairman & CEO of Tesla Motors Corp.-

Mr. Musk-

It has recently come to the attention of the Tesla enthusiast community that the fog/ground lights have been recently eliminated as part of the Tech Package for the Model S. Unfortunately, this was done “silently” without any notice to those who had an existing car deposit or a car in the build and delivery process. In addition, the picture gallery on teslamotors.com as well as your showrooms still display cars with lights included, thus those recently ordering have reason to believe they are still included.

It has been stated by one customer that the email reply (ostensibly from yourself regarding this)was:

“You're right, we should have said something. Essentially, the "fog" lights were not actually helpful in fog or in any reasonable scenario we could envision, and were actually bad in some situations. They made Model S worse, so they were deleted.”

While we certainly applaud not wanting to include anything adverse on the Model S, such lights are not useful for just foggy conditions. As ground lights, they allow more peripheral illumination and near-field fill lighting, which several customers have indicated is indeed useful. In addition, fog/ground lights are often considered aesthetically pleasing contributors to a vehicle’s appearance. Finally, the “solution” to the issue of removing and replacing the lamp with a plastic “filler cap” detracts from the beautiful appearance of the car.

You have previously expressed sentiment along the lines of: “We don’t want to build the best electric car, we want to build the best car period”, and as such you are competing in price and features with other luxury sedan makers. They have found a way to incorporate fog/ground lights in a safe manner that contributes to the functionality and appearance of their cars and we, as your customers, have come to expect such options to be available to us.

We request one of the following remedies:
1) Restore fog/ground lights as part of the Tech Package (including retroactive installation for all purchasers), performing whatever redesigns necessary to eliminate any “bad situations” where they may have posed a problem.

2) Reduce the price of the Tech Package by an appropriate amount, refunding any purchasers of the package who will not receive the lights. Make the (redesigned) lights available as an option for this same amount.

We, the current and future owners of the Tesla Model S, appreciate the significant advancement in design and engineering the car represents. We desire the Model S to be “World Class” in all respects. Removing features that are easily obtainable on even lesser cars is not the way to do it.

Respectfully –
Your Ever Growing Ownership and Enthusiast Community

- - - Updated - - -

I am the author of the above letter, which I wanted to keep as applicable as possible to all owners who wish to "sign" by voicing their support for.

As such, I am outlining my specific circumstances separately here: I've been considering a Tesla Model S for a number of months. The Tech Package (including foglights) has always been an option I had decided I would order. The initial description on the web site, the pictures in the gallery , online videos, and the cars I've seen in person (as recently as a showroom visit on 4/13) have always depicted fog/ground lights.

I placed my $5K deposit on 4/5, and only recently have come to realize that the lights have been eliminated. I am a big supporter of Tesla, but doing this without any notification and without changing the price for the Tech Package is not the way to continue to engender my loyalty.

I believe Elon/Tesla did the right thing by listening to customer feedback regarding items such as the floor mats, visors, etc... My hope is that this thread is a CONSTRUCTIVE venue to provide feedback that I believe the user community might wish to provide.

Finally, lets face it... this is a high-tech bad-boy of a car. It DESERVES to look every bit the advanced machine it is... c'mon let's have the awesome looking lights back... we are paying high 5- and even 6-digit prices for these machines...

jdb | 23 avril 2013

"I could careless about the foglights, but Tesla's lack of communication is exactly the type of BS I expect from a Toyota/BMW/Lexus stealership." @bhuwan, agree on this point, and like your reference to stealerships, so true. Now that I see that cornering lights will be available going forward I am a little jealous, would like them in lieu of the fog lights that I have and are somewhat useless since headlight illunmination so bright.

scaesare | 23 avril 2013

JPPTM-

Something is not right about that answer. I believe we have had cornering lights all along.

If you look at the videos on the gallery page of this site and watch the "Super Charger Event" video, you will see what are clearly cornering lights. They illuminate when the car is turning, and it's only one OR the other lit, not both. Furthermore they are in the "middle" position of the stack of lamps in the assembly, just below the yellow marker lamps.

Now look at the "New York Meets Model S" video. At 24 seconds you see what are the fog/ground lamps. They are BOTH simultaneously lit. And their position is at the bottom position in the stack.

Both of these videos pre-date the February fog-lamp "change" quite a bit.

Finally, if cornering lamps are REPLACING fog lamps, why are cars being shipped with plastic covers in one fixture position?

The car had both cornering and fog lamps all along. I appreciate you passing on what was told to you, but I think that answer is a dodge.

-sc

JPPTM | 23 avril 2013

-sc--

You might be right. I am a bit data deficient.

scaesare | 23 avril 2013

JPPTM-

Certainly not aimed at you, I appreciate your taking it up with Tesla.

Rather I feel the answer Tesla is giving it's customers is disingenuous.

-sc

BigBadNIN | 23 avril 2013

I e-mailed my rep about it and got this response. I assume it's been a done deal for some time now.

"Thank you for your email. You are correct, the fog lights are no longer included with the tech package. They have been replaced with cornering lights. I just spoke with our production team and they said that it would be near impossible to retrofit them as the machinery that was used for fog lights has been repurposed."

mindla.white | 23 avril 2013

As with the Alcantara headliner issue, "unannounced" removal of relevant features, like fog lights, is simply NOT a good approach to customer relations...esp. for customers with finalized orders. This is not a "reputation" that will advance Tesla's long-term well-being.

Don't get me wrong...IMO...product excellence is paramount and the MS has it in spades...but organizational CHARACTER and INTEGRITY are and will always be critical success factors as well. I look forward to my red P85 scheduled for May delivery...with awe and wonderment...but am profoundly saddened that my perception of Tesla's commitment to integrity and fairness is not moving in a positive direction...based on controversial (unannounced) spec changes.

borodinj | 23 avril 2013

Cars with the tech package used to get both fog AND cornering lights, so the cornering lights did not replace fog lights; fog lights have simply been removed. They are simply not telling the truth about this.

Are fog lights a huge deal? No, but that's not the point. The point is 1) that premium cars in this class have them, and so should Tesla, 2) the removal of features like these does not bode well for the integrity of the company or brand, and 3) they are not handling the explanation of the removal well, to say the least.

Smells like a cost cutting move to me. While I understand the need to cut costs when necessary and prudent, removing features like this is a cheap move to me. I expect more from Tesla and its leadership.

Carefree | 23 avril 2013

Took delivery of my P85 with Tech Package in early March. I have the fog lights and I do have cornering lights when driving slowly around curves and corners. I don't think the cornering lights come on when going faster than 10-15 miles (wild guess). Maybe the new cornering lights are different? I would be shocked (and very disappointed) if Tesla right out lied about this issue.

borodinj | 23 avril 2013

I also have a BMW X5. BMW integrates cornering lights and fog lights into the same light units. Tesla could have done the same. That at least would have been a great way for them to cut costs AND provide a reasonable explanation to customers.

DouglasR | 23 avril 2013

When you buy from a dealer, you typically take the car you see. TM is attempting to introduce a new paradigm: buy direct, build to order. I understand that TM needs the flexibility to make changes, and the MVPA reserves the right to do this at any time, without notice. But if TM is serious about its new paradigm, it needs to find a way to communicate any changes BEFORE the purchaser locks in. Too many times TM has acted as though it is simply exercising its right to make changes, without recognizing that it has made commitments to particular purchasers who have a right to the benefit of their bargain. TM's arguments in Texas and in Congress about the right to sell direct are going to fall flat if direct selling looks like an abusive one-way street where the buyer must pay but the seller may deliver whatever it wants to deliver.

ncn | 23 avril 2013

I will add my name to this letter. I managed to get the fog lights (lucky me). *I only ordered the tech package because of the fog lights*.

The fog lights aren't great, but they are certainly better than nothing in the fog.

If Tesla is planning to retrofit cars at no cost with better fog lights, that would be great.

If not, then anyone who ordered the tech package solely because of the fog lights, but *does not receive the fog lights* -- any such person *should have the full cost of the tech package refunded*. Including sales tax.

"Six" has described the CORRECT way to behave when deleting ADVERTISED features:

1) Tesla decides to make a change
2) Puts a notice on the web site of the change and the cut off date for orders before the change occurs (could be immediate but not retroactive and notice would be helpful)
3) All cars ordered after the posted change date are made with the change and those before do not have the change.

What Tesla has actually done qualifies as consumer fraud -- I'm sure it's unintentional and so forth, but this sort of behavior HAS TO STOP. This is not the first instance of Tesla providing bad information and coming across as very shady.

Tesla *NEEDS TO GET ITS ACT TOGETHER*, and I say this as a stockholder -- Tesla is developing a *bad* repuation with stuff like this. There is a very short window of time to turn this around before the reputation sticks. A third bait-and-switch incident (the Alcantara headliners being the first) would cement this in people's minds in a way that Tesla would not be able to recover from for years, if ever.

GeekEV | 23 avril 2013

> MVPA reserves the right to do this at any time, without notice.
@DouglasR - Where exactly does it say that? I didn't see that in my MVPA. At least not the one I e-signed...

DouglasR | 23 avril 2013

@Geek EV

My MVPA has the following provision:

"VEHICLE DESIGN. We reserve the right to change the design of any new vehicle, chassis, accessories, or parts at any time, without notice and without obligation to make the same or similar change upon the Vehicle, chassis, accessories or parts purchased by you under this Agreement."

Arguably this provision only reserves TM's right to make improvements without offering the same improvements to prior purchasers. I do not think it means TM can delete features already agreed upon. If your MVPA states that your car includes the Tech Package, for example, I would argue that TM is obligated to deliver the car with the same Tech Package that was described by TM at the time you signed the MVPA.

DC@Tesla | 23 avril 2013

Anyone have pictures of the new "design"? Hard to decide whether to complain or support without seeing the final look (but a plastic cap does not sound good).

Getting Amped Again | 23 avril 2013

I have fog lights but I'm posting because this irritates me to no end. It's just not right to advertise features, lock people in with deposits, then silently eliminate those features. If the fog lights didn't meet some "standard", they should have been re-engineered and retrofitted at no cost. The "replaced with cornering lights" is BS - I have both (Feb. 15th delivery).

As much as I like my S, and hope for TM's success, I agree with what some other posters have said: TM is going to develop a bad reputation for its bad communication and "shady" treatment of its customers.

Brian H | 24 avril 2013

The response letter seems to make the assumption that "low and wide" illumination replicates the fog lights. Fog lights use a yellow tint that reflects more weakly off the airborne mist, and therefore tends to obscure the roadway etc. less, and allows more light to penetrate. Bright white lighting by contrast can produce a glowing blanket that blocks far more detail.

Another NNIC issue?

chiefwgweatherford | 24 avril 2013

Its sad... I don't get the warm and fuzzy from TM anymore.
Have had trouble wit my MS since pick up of it on 4/20. I've only had the car for 3 hours and Tesla had to take it back. I ordered the Tech package because I like the look of it and was very disappointed to find the car did not have fog lights.... My faith in TM is running low. On top of me not having my car for the past three days now come to find they took my fog lights away!

*SIGNED*

Getting Amped Again | 24 avril 2013

I need to add to my post that my 60 has been perfect and I've been treated very well by the service folks here in Seattle. I just don't like how TM corporate has handled a few things, including this fog light issue. Feel bad for the guys/gals that got the bait-and-switch.

vinster | 24 avril 2013

I took delivery of my red Model S on 4/13, and it does not come with the fog lights, although I have the tech package. While I don't need the fog lights, it's the principle and I do hope this gets some attention and allows us one of the remedies proposed in this letter.

I'll be following this thread and hope to see some good news.

JPPTM | 24 avril 2013

Further e-mail back and forth with my DS:

My reply first:

Question for you and the team...comes from an interested Model S owner:

Something is not right about that answer. I believe we have had cornering lights all along.

If you look at the videos on the gallery page of this site and watch the "Super Charger Event" video, you will see what are clearly cornering lights. They illuminate when the car is turning, and it's only one OR the other lit, not both. Furthermore they are in the "middle" position of the stack of lamps in the assembly, just below the yellow marker lamps.

Now look at the "New York Meets Model S" video. At 24 seconds you see what are the fog/ground lamps. They are BOTH simultaneously lit. And their position is at the bottom position in the stack.

Both of these videos pre-date the February fog-lamp "change" quite a bit.

Finally, if cornering lamps are REPLACING fog lamps, why are cars being shipped with plastic covers in one fixture position?

The car had both cornering and fog lamps all along. I appreciate you passing on what was told to you, but I think that answer is a dodge.

So are their just plastic covers, and pre-existing cornering lamps?

Thanks.

....

Her response:

Great question! Cornering lights did not 'replace' fog lights in the car. Early cars with Tech Package had both fog lights and cornering lights. However, the cornering lights were never explicitly mentioned in the Tech Package description. Conversely, fog lights were called out in the Tech Package description.

When we removed the fog lights from the car, we replaced 'LED fog lights' with LED 'Cornering Lights' as the marketed feature included in the Tech Package description.

....

My reply this morning:

Thanks for the info. However this still will not sit well with reservation holders who have seen earlier Model S vehicles (as I have, with colleagues who have Signature and early 'standard' Performance models) or who have been attentive to the various photos, videos, forums and blogs. Again, to delete fog lights and install a plastic blanking plate, even if there is a good technical/safety reason, would appear to some to be de-featuring a luxury vehicle and a form of surreptitious cost cutting. Yes, maybe on the web site the fine print regarding the Tech Package was ambiguous, but the vehicle itself is truth, as was built before and after the production change. I would again suggest that proactive (...and now reactive) communication is essential. Tesla is a very high profile company and subject to lots of (sometimes unwarranted) criticism and bad press. Your current and future owners/customers are your strongest advocates, and Tesla Motors needs to be more openly communicative and engender as much support from these perceived risk takers and pioneers as possible.

...off the soapbox...

...

BTW, all correspondence CCd to George B. & Ownership @ TM

RedShift | 24 avril 2013

Would wrapping transparent yellow film over the fog lamps make them work better ?

Yellow fog lamps have been the standard for decades, really. Why did Tesla choose bright white LEDs for fog lamps in the first place?

Alex K | 24 avril 2013

@RedShift | APRIL 24, 2013: Yellow fog lamps have been the standard for decades, really. Why did Tesla choose bright white LEDs for fog lamps in the first place?

Please don't perpetuate the myth regarding yellow fog lights. There is no color that is better for penetrating fog. See the Fog Light Q/A at the DOE Office of Science for an explanation.

GeekEV | 24 avril 2013

@DouglasR - My electronic "final MVPA" from DocuSign has no such clause. I haven't checked the paper copy they made me sign. If it's in the paper copy but not the electronic one that strikes me as bait and switch as I was led to believe they were the same document... Or perhaps that clause was added to later revisions after I took delivery?

JPPTM | 24 avril 2013

Last word today from my DS (see prior e-mails above):

Thank you for your response. I completely understand your frustration and concern. I want you to know that I am working with my managers to develop a satisfactory response and explanation for the public in reference to the fog lamps in hopes that we can resolve customers’ concern on a larger scale.

Thank you again for your feedback.

scaesare | 24 avril 2013

JPPTM, thanks for the further communication of the issue with Tesla and with us.

Unfortunately, now the issue appears to be a game of semantics on Tesla's part, and one that doesn't quite jive with Elon's answer. He said, "...They made Model S worse, so they were deleted". He did not say "replaced". What if the fog lights had no problems? Would they have then deleted the cornering lights?

Two items minus one item = 1 item.

Furthermore, the rest of the problems still stand: Pictures show them. Videos have them. And the biggie, in my opinion: Show room cars have them.... we are buying a $100,000 over the internet. What we have to go by is a very limited amount of direct exposure to the product... so playing fast and loose with item deletions/"replacements" is inappropriate if you want people to trust that model.

Finally, I happen to be a VA buyer... and today I see Elon is tweeting about asking for help from VA folks to deal with the denial of dealership licenses in my state. My inclination to go to bat for Tesla to help them change the status quo is directly tied to how I'm being treated as a customer.

I'm inclined to also inquire to via email as well... hopefully if enough noise is made, we'll get some traction. Would you mind forwarding the email addresses?

Thanks.

-sc

DouglasR | 24 avril 2013

I have no problem with TM deleting the fog lights. They have every right to do that. The problem is that they deleted this feature for purchasers who locked in at a time when "fog lights were (expressly) called out in the Tech Package description." Legally, that's called breach of contract. It is similar to what they tried to do with supercharger hardware on the 60 kWh cars and what they did do with alcantara headliners on the Performance cars. It simply has to stop!

Brian H | 24 avril 2013

If there is a technical basis for deleting the fog lights ("they make visibility worse") that is what should be communicated. Along with advice to those having them never to use them?

mwojcie | 25 avril 2013

I have both fog lights and cornering lights. And like them both.

Wesley Nygaard | 25 avril 2013

My question is: Where is an official Tesla Motors response to this well thought out, very one-sided and lengthy forum discussion?

Sincerely,

A big fan of Model S from Canada

kidjay | 25 avril 2013

Signed!

JKL | 25 avril 2013

I need the fog lights. It looks cool for the car.

Signed

scaesare | 25 avril 2013

Update:

Sent this to George B, and the "Ownership" email accounts I were given at Tesla... as well as what I guessed is Elon's address. I also linked to this open letter here as well as on the teslamotorsclub.com forum urging them to look at customer feedback... so now is the time for as many people who care to do so support this if it's of importance to them.

-sc

scaesare | 25 avril 2013

Something else occurred to me regarding why it's completely reasonable for anybody buying a Model S to expect they are getting fog lights. If you place deposit and then finalize your configuration, you are invited to download the manual for your car.

Notice what's in the Owner's Manual on page 13:

Again I reiterate: I have sent Tesla $5000 on good faith for a car that I can expect based ONLY on what's presented to me. So far all of their collateral, including official documentation and showroom samples, state that I should expect fog lights.

thomas.schlatter | 25 avril 2013

@scaesare: Assumed the car is equipped with fog lights and you will get the cornering lights as an addition, would you refuse them?

If it's possible to use the cornering lights as additional ground lights AND as cornering lights, I would be perfectly happy. But that's probably not legal here in Europe.

Has anybody close-up pictures of a Model S without fog-lights and with cornering lights instead? I would like to be able to compare how it looks like compared to a car with fog-lights only.

scaesare | 25 avril 2013

thomas.slater:

To answer your question: "Assumed the car is equipped with fog lights and you will get the cornering lights as an addition, would you refuse them?"

I am assuming you are asking if I would refuse the cornering light?

Of course not. For several reasons:

1) I have the option of not using the cornering lights if included (even if it means removing the bulb). By deleting the option for fog lights, I have no option to use them even if I wanted. Tesla has removed the choice from me as a customer.

2) The collateral Tesla has provided (pictures, videos, showroom samples) have depicted cornering lights as included all along. I expected them when I forked over my cash.

3) Tesla has VOLUNTARILY included both cornering and fog lights as part of the product up until this point. INVOLUNTARILY removing features after accepting money is disingenuous.

I'll go so far as to even say this: even if there is a 1-for-1 replacement of features, it's still not acceptable. If you order a $300 bottle of Cabernet, you have every right to be dissatisfied if you are given a $300 bottle of Pinot, regardless whether the value is equal in somebody else's eyes.

-sc

Jolanda | 25 avril 2013

They expect us to pay upfront. I accept this if I trust the one I am sending my money. At this moment they are loosing my faith.

I think that I want to inspect my car before I take delivery. Then, after I see that the car is exactly as I orderd it, I will pay. You cannot change the product after the agreement without loosing faith of your customer.

I don't care if they think it is better or that it has more value if they change it. If you change the deal, you have to renegotiate!

GeekEV | 25 avril 2013

@Jolanda - No they don't. You put down a deposit, but you pay at delivery. You could refuse delivery at that point if you want.

herkimer | 25 avril 2013

If you are so infuriated by the fog lights not being included, why don't you just call or write Tesla and tell them that if the car has no fog lights as you expect, then your order is immediately cancelled? It's easy, you expected fog lights, on the basis of the above references and images, they were discontinued, therefore, so is your order. I am sure they would refund your 5000 deposit under the circumstances. Just say "I don" t want the car without fog lights." End of subject. No need for a big public campaign full of personal attacks and allegations of terrible malfeasance. Tesla may exercise a choice to not include fog lights, and you have a right to choose not to buy the car without them. If you own the car already, and it means that much to you go directly to service center and insist they be installed. Fight for fog lights if you want,or look for aftermarket solution.
Maybe you feel like making a lawsuit against Tesla over this? Would such a course of action really cost less and require less time and headache than canceling or seeking another solution? More satisfaction? Better results? What is the expected result of aggressive brow-beating? Fog lights for all?

DouglasR | 25 avril 2013

@imherkimer - Most people wouldn't want to cancel over fog lights. But that doesn't mean they are not entitled to the benefit of their bargain. The standard measure of damages in this type of breach would be the difference in value between the car with fog lights and the car without fog lights. Not a very big number, and not worth suing over in my view. But if those who were harmed make their displeasure known, chances are that TM will do the right thing.

surfer54 | 25 avril 2013

Ordered my SP end of March and it went to the factory April 20. Fog lights where included in my order and I expect to receive them.

bob | 25 avril 2013

We have much bigger fish to fry here. If it does not come with fog lights and that is unacceptable then do not take delivery. There are plenty of folks who want the car. Look around we are trying to change the world here. Tiffany and I are desperately building up our business to afford this damn thing in a crappy economy. We owned a early crude lead acid EV, a Ford EV Ranger. We do not have to be sold on the merits of this technology because despite the Fords shortcomings it pointed the way to the future. Many folks like us will stretch to the limit to obtain a Tesla. Look down the road, the country is going completely to hell because of our insane lust for petroleum, the government is an owned division of Exxon and is nonresponsive to the citizens real needs. We as a country violate our own ethics and become murders, terrorist and torturers in a futile attempt to "control" the worlds oil. Civil voting does not matter because the choices are paid for before presentation. The one thing we CAN do is buy a Ford Focus EV or a Leaf or a Tesla. Then we make a statement. Then we make a difference. Then we have made a "vote" that matters.

bill.heil | 25 avril 2013

*signed*

Jolanda | 26 avril 2013

My problem is not that I don't receive the foglights. Financialy that is a minor item and I can get over that.

It is Tesla changing the product after the agreement. I now fully expect to get my Performance model without the extra performance, but with some extra badges. Because the car is "better that way". Or another change that really hurts. I like to buy from a company that I can trust...

GeirT | 26 avril 2013

@ bob

+1

scaesare | 26 avril 2013

I received a reply from Elon last evening stating that he'd review the issue, and that the company is under pressure to be profitable.

I appreciate his frankness and accessibility. I know of only one other CEO like that: Jim Jannard of Red Digital Cinema (formerly of Oakley). It's refreshing to have those at the top willing to listen so directly to their customer.

I appreciate all those that have kept this respectful and constructive. It appears it has the attention of the Tesla brass. If you care about the larger issue of features being removed and communication (even if fog lights aren't necessarily important to you), you may want to voice your support.

I am hopeful that Tesla responds in a way that continues to engender our loyalty.

-sc

borodinj | 26 avril 2013

Signed

DerekCrosby | 26 avril 2013

Signed.
if I pay for something I expect to get it, let me choose to use it or not. Then take it off the package for future orders.

rd_redford | 26 avril 2013

+1.

I did not realize they had been deleted until I received my car and thought they were missing. Bad surprise. The floor mats I did receive but not expect failed to make up for the difference - they are pretty marginal anyway.

Amped | 26 avril 2013

*Signed*

Received 4/18 missing fog, was listed in options when finalized 2/8.

Mark K | 27 avril 2013

While fog lights may rank as a small matter in the grand scheme of things, the principle here is significant.

Tesla should be free to dynamically adjust what they're building to improve its function or marginal profit.

But when they do it, they should follow a simple rule:

Whatever has been promised for transactions in the pipeline is honored.

When you make a change, give current orders a choice: Keep the original spec, or get something of equal or greater value when the old spec is no longer logistically possible. When you make a deal with a customer, you must deliver the benefit of that bargain, one way or another.

Now that lead time is pretty short, this rule has only a modest effect on the latency of revisions. After contemporary orders are flushed through the system, TM makes its change and manages production however it deems necessary.

This was exactly the same principle that played out for the Superchargers on the 60's, and the dropping of the 40, TM focused on their need to make a change, but (innocently enough) ignored how customers perceived it.

They are getting better at this, as the resolution of the 40 demonstrates.

If they apply this simple rule, it will consume less management bandwidth to administer changes, and customers will increasingly express their confidence in the company. A truly exceptional product, and customers willing to say so, are precisely why Tesla's growth is accelerating.

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