What happens when the current hardware is no longer supported in 4 or 8 years?

What happens when the current hardware is no longer supported in 4 or 8 years?

Hi Guys,

Computers that we bought 4 years ago or 8 years ago (remember the 1st iPad or the Windows XP computers or 2G network) are obsolete and the hardware can no longer support the new technology.

I know that some of us plan to keep our MS for a long period. 3G is already replaced by 4G, LTE, etc. and will be obsolete. Tesla will definitely do an OS upgrade over the years.

Do we know of Tesla's plans on how they plan to keep us 'oldies' upgraded? Will the prepaid service or extended warranty cover this?

Or am I staring too much into the crystal ball?

jcaspar1 | 30 mars 2014

Obsolete or just not the latest hardware? I have a 1st generation iPad that I use daily, still works great. Sure it is slightly slower and won't work with the latest Tesla app but still works fine. Heck, my 1993 Chevy 4x4 still drives and hauls great, not yet obsolete. I don't think the Model S will ever be obsolete...

Tesltoronto | 30 mars 2014

Well "obsolete" may be the wrong word. "No longer supported" for the new OS (and apps) may be the proper phrase? | 30 mars 2014

Maybe TM plans to install "put-your-old-Model S-here" recycling bins at Supercharger locations in future years.

But, semi-seriously, I don't know that TM is obligated more than any other car maker to provide hardware upgrades to existing cars. TM isn't just another car maker, of course, and it would be nice if they did, but I wouldn't expect it unless a potential safety issue is involved. The much-discussed titanium shield falls in that category. TM may introduce the full range of "nanny technology" now missing from the Model S (blind spot detection, etc) over the next few years, but if it's made available to older cars at all, I wouldn't expect it to be free.

My perspective on this is skewed by my experience with a 2003 Benz E-Class we owned before the Model S. It came with a wireless connectivity system that used *analog* cellular technology. It was, of course, obsolete almost from the beginning. Mercedes-Benz graciously offered to upgrade it to digital - for a mere $1500. Hopefully TM will do better than that.

AoneOne | 30 mars 2014

Aside from a high-tech electronic items, little else of the car is unusual in its manufacturability or availability. Tesla owns the critical technology (including the battery, motor, power electronics, mechanical fabrication, and tooling), so I'm not worried about them becoming obsolete in the sense of unavailability or unrepairability, except if Tesla goes out of business.

You may feel that your car is obsolete once new models come out, but that's the case with every car.

I do think that the information systems (3G, CPU, on-board storage, and center console LCD) could already use some improvement: they're just not up to the demands of today's web sites: in this way the MS is similar to a two-year-old cellphone. Still, that's peripheral to the use of the MS as a car.

lolachampcar | 30 mars 2014

I'm sure it will happen but then that just means that MS' dash becomes just like every other car's dash that is not update"able". It will be no better and no worse from an update standpoint but, by base design, is likely to still be better than anything else any other manufacturer does in the near term (3 to 4 years... just a guess).

I guess I am comforted by being on this side of the step change.

Baribrotzer | 30 mars 2014

There's one big difference, though. A Model S costs thirty to a hundred times as much as most home computers. It has a useful, drivable life of at least ten years, and probably fifteen or twenty. Even if the original owner doesn't keep it for all that time, it will continue to do its job for subsequent owners until it is wrecked or falls apart. That's the nature of a car, and that's its life-cycle.

And if an older Model S became undrivable because Tesla (assuming they were still in business) refused to support the legacy operating system in runs on, that would seriously damage its long-term value, and probably cut into sales. | 30 mars 2014

Hard to say what the 2020 MS may have but here are some ideas:

- Dash with 50" full width touch screen with virtual steering and stalks (adjust to your preference).

- Autonomous driving abilities (after you sign a waiver that you're totally responsible for any accidents).

- 18.2 channel sound with 18 surround sound speakers providing vertical depth of sound.

- Pothole avoidance software.

- 5G Cellular data connection, for multi-channel 4K HD video streaming.

- Individual video for every passenger (including driver while autonomous driving enabled).

- Full color night vision display with GPS tracked 3D landscape underlay - allows driving without any lights!

- Capacitor energy storage burst mode - allows for a 0-60 sprint in under 3 seconds.

Time will tell....

carlk | 30 mars 2014

No one can predict what future products will be like but at the very minimum the MS you purchased today will perform no worse than it is today.

PapaSmurf | 30 mars 2014

It would not surprise me at all if we can replace and upgrade the center screen in a few years.

There might be faster network connectivity or better screen resolution or faster chips, etc.
If the installed base is large enough with 20,000 to 30,000 cars per year, there will certainly be an upgrade market that Tesla might be able to satisfy.

When they do upgrade in a future Model S refresh (2016-2017) they just need to keep the same overall space requirements and electrical connections. It should be possible to create an updated center screen for the new Model S and also the existing customer base to purchase.

I would be willing to pay $2,000 or so to update my Model S with a new center screen system if the improvements are noteworthy.

logicalthinker | 30 mars 2014

At one of the European conferences, Musk did indicate that software would be free updates and hardware would generally be what you get in newer models.

Webcrawler | 30 mars 2014

Same thing that happens to every other CPU, ECU, user interface in every other car made...

Mathew98 | 30 mars 2014

The MCU can be replaced in less than an hour. It will cost less than $5k with the latest 5g/6g antenna in 2020.

Even the main board with NVDIA chipsets can be replaced at a cost. It is just a matter of what the owners are willing to pay to upgrade to the latest and greatest when the next decade arrive.

Tâm | 30 mars 2014

Obsolete does not mean that it does not work well.

My Windows XP is still chugging along while I see other people get frustrated with each "upgrade" because of incompatibility issues to both existing softwares and hardwares.

Changes are incremental so it would be crazy for me to not using Windows XP and waited years and years for Windows 8 (I still don't need more than XP as of today.)

The same applies to Model S. I would say mine is already obsolete but that does not mean it does not work well.

Early versions would miss: powered folding mirrors, parking sensors, suspension tuning for the +, subzero weather package...

These improvements don't come free.

If LTE comes with a charge per gigabyte usage and current 3G with free unlimited usage, then, I to be obsolete :)

Service plans are preventive programs to make sure your car work well. You need to pay more if you want to upgrade your options.

So if you want to have the latest, buy now and trade in for the most-up-to-date later.

Tâm | 30 mars 2014


I guess Tesla has inspired you that change would come very rapidly.

So your concerns are valid but I would not let them turn you into an insomniac.

I still see people using very old cell phone with talk ability technology only (no web) even in this age of LTE.

You can see very ancient carbon zinc, "heavy duty." alkaline, ni-cad batteries even in this age of fuel-cell.

Changes do come, but if people are willing pay for cheap carbon zinc battery then the ancient still survive!
By the way,
Android devices are seamlessly upgraded and most users wouldn't even notice it.

Tesla has been sending firmware upgrades over-the-air since the first Model S comes out in 2012.

So I don't see how an OS upgrade would alarm you.
May be what you mean is to change to a different kind of Operating System?

Elon has answered this repeatedly that you can do an "app" to work on his system, rather than him changing to a system (Windows, Apple, Android) that your programs work.

In conclusion, changes are good, as long as you have money to keep up with the Joneses.

If you don't have extra money, as long as you already have your Model S, you are well taken care of!

Sleep well, and don't worry!

Brian H | 30 mars 2014

Why would anyone ever need more than 640KB RAM?

Red Sage ca us | 30 mars 2014

I thought it might be BSD, but it turns out the Operating System on the Tesla Model S is Linux instead. It will be very robust for quite some time to come, no matter the hardware that runs it. Sure, when the solid light holographic displays are available you might want to upgrade the hardware, but it won't be mandatory. You'll replace the car before it becomes necessary to replace the computer systems themselves.

Tâm | 30 mars 2014

@Red Sage:

Thanks! And you just have to mention that Tesla is using Linux, an Operating System that is 23 years old, that was born in 1991.

And that's not all. it's a free version of the commercial UNIX of 1960's, just a little bit over half of a century ago!

I can now see how people would worry about a product that has been lingering on and lingering on decades after decades :)

Ahhh! How refreshing! Its relevancy after a few decades here and a few decades there!

chrisdl | 31 mars 2014

Good old Unix (and by extension Linux and thus our Tesla OS).
At least you know for certain that you won't need any upgrades past 2038 ;-)

Tesltoronto | 31 mars 2014

Thanks guys. As always, your comments are very helpful and valid. Appreciate it. :)

EssDub | 31 mars 2014

i will wait for the flux capacitor and mr fusion before i upgrade.

Baribrotzer | 31 mars 2014

@ EssDub: "i will wait for the flux capacitor and mr fusion before i upgrade."

It won't be that simple, though.

The Mr. Fusion will operate at entirely the wrong voltage and be designed for an output wiring of room-temperature superconductor - a commodity not in evidence in the Wild West of 1885, and indeed not even a hundred-and-thirty years later. And with an arrow right through the battery pack, the batteries won't charge. So you'll have to build your own wind generator, hand-wire the armature yourself, clamp a pantograph on the Model S's roof, repurpose the telegraph line, and set up the world's first electrified railroad.

And, as you accelerate toward the crucial 88 MPH, the wire will become detached, land in a beef feedlot, and coat the entire pursuing Buford Tannen Gang in a cloud of flash-boiled manure.

NKYTA | 31 mars 2014

I keep typing "sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade" on the touchscreen, but nothing happens. ;-)

I'm sure they are keeping "linux" (what flavor one wonders?) up to date with security patches with each major version update.

GeekEV | 31 mars 2014

@Baribrotzer - Why would it become undrivable after Tesla stops supporting new software updates?

Red Sage ca us | 31 mars 2014

There is another thread here about the web browser.

Tesla Model S Web Browser Capabilities

The stats from that expose the system is running on Linux.

Model S = Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux; C)

As I said, I thought it might be BSD instead, since that is what Apple uses for OSX. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a way to use a keyboard twister command to access ROOT. I mean, has no one plugged a USB keyboard & mouse into it yet?

So... Who wants to risk jailbreaking their Model S?


Baribrotzer | 31 mars 2014

@ GeekEV -

It would become impossible to fix if there was a software problem. You wouldn't be able to get a factory bug fix, or even reinstall a new, clean OS. They just wouldn't exist.

Although in practice, the aftermarket might handle the situation.

LMB | 31 mars 2014

(LMB spouse)

@NKYTA - You need to press Ctrl-Alt-F1 to get a console first.

Red Sage ca us | 1 avril 2014

So, we need the option to 'Backup System Image to Google Drive' or something, right? That could be accessed via a USB Live Disk. Of course, that might allow for ~*ahem*~ custom firmware too... Imagine if aftermarket tuners were to set the system for drag racing, rather than econo sport functions... Look at all the smoke!

NKYTA | 1 avril 2014

@LMB spouse, drat, I knew I was missing a step! ;-)