GPS Feature

GPS Feature

I understand the turn-by-turn GPS navigation is only available in the 'tech package'. I do not need the upgraded headlamps or the automatic door, so $3,750 is a lot to turn on the GPS functionality. Can I use GPS or any other solution on the touchscreen? Can I pay to just get this GPS feature turned on?

schoendp | 16 janvier 2013

Yes - the will soon come out with a connectivity package that will allow you to surf the web, including google maps. You will have a pointer where you are located and it will move as you do. They have not announced the pricing yet for this package. In addition, after the wifi feature is turned on, you will be able to tether from your phone so you may not even need the connectivity package.

DouglasR | 16 janvier 2013


I don't think you are correct here. Without the tech package, you Nav app will show a map and a location pointer, but will not provide a route or turn-by-turn directions. You can also use the browser app and go to Google maps. That will allow you to compute a route with turn-by-turn directions, but it will not have a location pointer. I think you need the tech package to get both the pointer and the route on the same screen.

I have the tech package, so I am repeating what I believe I heard on these forums. If others know for sure, please chime in.

Schlermie | 16 janvier 2013

The tech package also allows you to use navigation in areas where you don't have a data signal.

ChasF | 16 janvier 2013

@Douglas R

I think @shcoendp was answering the first question, not the second.

DouglasR | 16 janvier 2013


Well, he said the user could "surf the web, including google maps. You will have a pointer where you are located and it will move as you do." I'm pointing out that when you surf the web on google maps using a browser, you do NOT have a location pointer. The GPS is in the car, but it is not exposed to the browser.

stevenmaifert | 17 janvier 2013

As the owner of a non-Tech package Model S, I can confirm that what DouglasR has said in his posts is correct.

schoendp | 17 janvier 2013

Douglas R - You are correct. As I re-read my post, I bled the two sentences together without enough explanation. I should have said that you can get the pointer on the Maps app that comes with the car if you have a 3G connection or it is tethered to your car, but the app will not give you directions or turn by turn. Also, it apparently measures distance as the crow flies, not by roads. In addition, you can surf the web and go to various map websites that will give you directions but it will not track with a pointer.

schoendp | 17 janvier 2013

As a side note, Tesla's ownership team confirmed that the traffic feature is dependent on a 3G connection. Therefore, even if you have Navigation, if you don't also have an internet connection, the traffic won't show up during your turn by turn directions, etc.

peterrabbino | 17 janvier 2013

Thanks for the feedback.

Here is more from Walter at Tesla:
"the tech package is not available in individual parts. The touchscreen does have Google maps included on it without the tech package, but it does not have a routing function. Google maps is also dependent on your 3G connectivity. Model S does already have GPS and will display your current location on Google maps without the Tech package.

What the Tech package really adds in terms of GPS is turn-by-turn directions that are hard drive based allowing it to operate without the internet. These maps will include 7 years of free updates – many other automotive companies charge several hundred dollars every year to update maps. Combined with the online Google maps it is a nice navigation system."

I think the functionality of using could be enabled with tethering. And I think Tesla c/should break out this feature from upgrading headlights and the rear door lift.

At the end of the day, $3750 is too much for me. Looks like I will need to velcro my iPhone to the dash :-)

ChasF | 17 janvier 2013

Ok, I guess I'm a little confused. Considering @DouglasR post and the feedback from Walter at Tesla, it sounds like there is a maps app that comes with the car (Tech Package or Non-Tech Package) that will display a location pointer based on the included GPS. This app is different than Google Maps on the browser.
Bottom line: On a non-Tech Package Model S, you can display a map on the touchscreen showing a location pointer that moves as the car moves. Just TBT is not included.

Is this correct?

DouglasR | 17 janvier 2013


Yes. I think part of the confusion is that the "Nav" app that comes with the car (tech package or not) displays a Google map when connected to the internet. It's just not the same Google map as the one you get when using the "Browser" app, which also comes with the car and works when connected to the internet.

The browser Google map is just like the one on your computer's browser. It lacks a GPS connection, so it has no location pointer. However, it will do routing, just as will do routing. Without an internet connection, it displays nothing.

The Nav app will not do routing unless you have the tech package. That is, it lacks turn-by-turn capability, and it also will not draw a line from your location to your destination (I believe -- steve?). On the other hand, even if you lack an internet connection, the Nav app will show a location pointer on your touch screen. However, it will just be a location pointer in the middle of a big, blank, gray field -- i.e., no maps. The tech package will provide the maps, even without an internet connection. However, I believe that part of this system is not implemented yet in that maps without an internet connection are provided on the instrument panel display but not on the touch screen. When the built-in maps are fully implemented, I hope and believe that they will display on the touch screen as well.

Have I clarified this, or just made it more confusing?

Alex K | 17 janvier 2013

@DouglasR | JANUARY 17, 2013: When the built-in maps are fully implemented, I hope and believe that they will display on the touch screen as well.

I think we all hope that this will be the case. Maybe we should add this to the Software Enhancement list to the Punch List? Also providing Track-Up (vs North-Up) on the Google map would also be helpful as an interim solution.

stevenmaifert | 17 janvier 2013

DouglasR is correct. The Google maps app in the non-Tech package will display the location of a destination, which can be entered via the on-screen keyboard or voice command, but will not provide routing guidance or draw a line from your current location.

edavis008 | 17 janvier 2013

I understaning that, without the Tech Packagte, I can get the turn-by-turn feature from the Google app on my iPhone and it will play via bluetooth through the speakers in the car. Right?

DouglasR | 17 janvier 2013

@edavis008 - Virtually any audio that plays through my iPhone's speakers will play through the car's speakers when the phone is connected via Bluetooth. I have the tech package and premium sound, but I believe this will work even without these options.

@Alex K - I agree, although I don't know whether this is a punch list or software enhancement list suggestion. There is some reason to believe it will not happen. The seven-year navigation subscription is provided by Navigon, I believe, but I don't think Navigon uses Google maps. The maps on the instrument panel display are different from those on the touch screen. We definitely need clarification on this.

ChasF | 17 janvier 2013

I understand now. I've been on this forum for over a year and only now understand that there is a "Nav" app showing a Google map without the Tech Package. If you haven't guessed already, I didn't order the Tech Package. So far, so good.

gregv64 | 17 janvier 2013

If you don't have the tech package, the app is called "Maps"

ChasF | 17 janvier 2013

Thanks for the clarification.

stevenmaifert | 17 janvier 2013

@ChasF - I've been driving a non-Tech package MS for a month now. No regrets. It's still an awesome machine!

Mike6 | 18 janvier 2013

The reason you can't get turn by turn from Google is because the browser built into the Tesla has intentionally neutered all web-based GPS apps.

You can find a geolocation test here:

Without access to the GPS, no web based apps can give you services which require knowledge of where you are (like turn by turn).

I do not know why Tesla disabled this - the browser in the tesla supports it by default. They intentionally turned it off. Since I have the tech package, I suspect this is turned off in all Model S's.

ChasF | 18 janvier 2013

I sort of suspect that this will change, especially when the Tesla AppStore is in full swing. There are too many cool location-based apps (especially for cars) to not have this access would be shocking. A side benefit could be alternative TBT navigation solutions, even without the Tech Package. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

RD7 | 18 janvier 2013

I agree that this needs to be on the essential feature list.

For folks like me that live in rural areas with no 3G service at all, having a map display based on the Garmin/Navigon map data is essential. Same for anyone else traveling outside an urban area.

BTW, I was told by Tesla that when there is no 3G service, you can still get turn-by-turn directions on the steering console, but no map on the 17" display. They are looking at using the turn-by-turn map data to drive the 17", but this is not yet committed.

Model S p85 (April delivery)

gosako | 21 janvier 2013

Agree.. the maps app is basically useless if it doesn't give directions & should provide "Track-up" (vs North-up). At a minimum, it should allow you to go to a map service via web browser & enable the location/GPS!

What's the process to get this onto the "essential feature list"?

stevenmaifert | 21 janvier 2013

The maps app is just that... a map! If you want directions, that's called nav and it will cost you $3,750.

hanstremblay | 25 juin 2013

Tesla really have to do something for navigation without tech ...Or May be it is already done and didn't find it here !
So as I understand, without tech package, the best way to have turn-by-turn is to stuck a 5" TomTom GPS on top of the great 17" touchscreen and explain to everybody Looking in the car that it is the most advance tech car in the world (sorry for the sarcastic remark, I own a Jetta TDI and do have turn-by-turn, keyless entry, start button in my car )

The 60kwh without any option already strech my budget for a loan but it is more than correct as per gas saving with an average of 200km per day for the job...Do I have to say turn-by-turn is a must with my job :-)

AmpedRealtor | 25 juin 2013

@ hanstremblay, if Tesla provided all of the benefits of the tech package then there would be no tech package. The reason you pay for the tech package is to get GPS turn-by-turn navigation as well as the other features. You have to pay for that upgrade on other manufacturer's cars, so I don't understand why you say that Tesla should basically include GPS turn by turn navigation as standard?

Navigation was a costly upgrade to my Prius and has been in every other vehicle. Why do you think Tesla should just "throw it in" for free?

GReese | 25 juin 2013

If you want turn-by-turn, get the tech package and quit your belly-aching.

cybrown | 25 juin 2013

Turn-by-turn would have been a $2k upgrade on my Honda Accord. I didn't get it because I loathe manufacturer-owned turn-by-turn - you're locked into their poor map system and usually have to pay for upgrades. I much prefer Google Maps, which makes its own maps rather than buying from a service and is constantly updated for free. That's why I was was thrilled to hear that the Model S did the sensible thing and provided turn-by-turn from Google. I would have gotten the tech package for that feature alone.

hanstremblay | 25 juin 2013

Precision needed here on my post: I dont ask to get the navigation free but as an option by itself for let's say $500-$1000 + annual fee (about $100) for live update. And you're right I also paid an extra for this on my VW.
I work also as a Realtor and turn-by-turn is a no brainer with a client on the passenger seat. I read some of your other post and agree with you than this car can be a part of marketing in our business...What a wonderful car !

No tesla bashing here, Just talking about the option...I am a fan of Tesla since the first hour. Model S is an awsome car and I can't wait longer to get one ! And yes probably with Tech ;-)

GReese | 25 juin 2013

I guess my underlying point is that no car I know of comes with turn-by-turn nav as a standard offering, and just about every one comes with it as an option. There's nothing peculiar about Tesla here.

S4WRXTTCS | 25 juin 2013

You can still be a fan of Tesla and totally disagree with how they did things option wise.

Basically its just another thing that has kept me on the fence. Do I buy a car which purports itself as a luxury car, but doesn't come with nav/hid-lamps as standard?

Or do I hold off in hopes that they fix it, and they include it in the base price. Everything in the tech package belongs on a car being sold at this level. I can't even think of any competing car that doesn't have the features within the tech package as standard.

It's also kind of silly to have such a technically advanced car, but have an option called the tech package. Seriously? Oh, here is this 17inch screen, but sorry no nav for you. The entire dashboard is an LCD, yet there is no maps there either (unless you have Nav, and destination programmed in).

Most of the other options I agree with. The pano-roof, the suspension. Things that people have different wants/needs. But, HID lamps, and Nav I considered to be basic safety features. A hell of a lot safer than Halogen lamps and a mounted iPhone.

GReese | 25 juin 2013

"Basically its just another thing that has kept me on the fence. Do I buy a car which purports itself as a luxury car, but doesn't come with nav/hid-lamps as standard?"

What luxury car comes with it as standard? It's an option for every single car I have ever encountered, luxury or otherwise.

GReese | 25 juin 2013

Let me put it a different way, is there any value to making the base price $2K (or whatever the tech package is) more expensive and making it standard?

The only value is to exclude some people from buying the car.

You pay for the tech package, one way or another.

S4WRXTTCS | 25 juin 2013

Nav and HID lamps are standard on the 911 Porsche that I'm considering.

Traditional Porsche has been the company to nickle and dime someone on everything. Sure Porsche could say the same thing as you did, but we both know they're making a killing on the options.

Now will I buy anyways? Where I just adjust the price in my mind and ignore it? Probably. I still find it amusing that they would have such a nice screen, but then paralyze it.

Lots of people won't notice how much better HID lamps are.

cybrown | 25 juin 2013

I do agree with the sentiment that selling a "tech package" on "the most advanced car in the world" feels a little cheap.

S4WRXTTCS | 25 juin 2013

I also think its important to recongnize the trade offs. What you're giving up in return for all the things the Tesla brings to the table.

I'm still passionate about the car even if I think option wise Tesla is behind the curve. The GPS thing was just nutters.

But, they're way ahead of the curve in other areas.

So I'm just carefully weighing my decision which one should do on such an expensive car. The interesting thing is the things it gives you are more everyday things (full battery level every morning, instant thrust). Sure there is no adaptive cruise control option, or lane assist (what other companies have as options because they've long since moved Xenons into standard equipment).

GReese | 26 juin 2013

A Porsche 911 has a base MSRP of $84,000. That's about what I paid for my almost fully-loaded Model S 60.

Again, I fail to see what the complaint here is.

tobi_ger | 26 juin 2013

cybrown: please correct me if I'm wrong, but the turn-by-turn navigation is by Garmin, maps are by Google?

AmpedRealtor | 26 juin 2013

I wish the car came with HID standard and offered LED headlamps with the tech package. Oh well…

stevenmaifert | 26 juin 2013

TBT Nav was standard on the 2011 & 2012 Leaf. It is an option on 2013. Say what you will about the Leaf, but it has several desirable features that aren't even offered on Model S. Full disclosure: I own one of each :)

dawson5555555 | 18 juin 2014

I asked Tesla rep that if I do not get tech package how does maps work and I got very mixed responses from different reps. I believe the following is correct and the easiest way to understand this:

The google maps on the 17" LCD is a totally different program/app/device from the Garmin GPS; the only connect is if you have an address on the google maps and you want GPS directions, the google maps sends the address to the Garmin GPS; otherwise they operate totally separate.

Everyone gets the google maps with an icon that tracks your car as you move around on the map. Only the tech package gets the Garmin GPS! The only big or small advantage is the address automatically gets transfered.

I would recommend the tech package because in the future, the google maps will get a lot better(my opinion and Elon just made a recent announcement of enhancements).

Can any actual owners confirm this.

stevenmaifert | 18 juin 2014

dawson5555555 - Your understanding is correct. You get all the functionality except the TBT navigation. Met a fellow owner at the SJC Supercharger yesterday who was complaining the TBT route line on the Google map overlaid the traffic info. Told him I don't have that problem because I don't have the tech package. You can enter an address and it will still drop a pin on the Google map. If you can self navigate to the general area, you can find your destination easy enough, particularly since they added the Heading Up option to the display. No tech since 12/23/12 and no regrets.

mathwhiz | 18 juin 2014

Although I don't claim to have any tech spec on how the systems interact, it seems to me that it can't be as simple as you suggest...

If the only coordination between the two systems was solely by destination address, then that would present a serious shortcoming, as the routing would not (always) match. Having driven a couple of extensive nav trips recently, one 4,000+ miles, I can attest that the two are clearly TBT handshaking more than just by destination...

I did witness the driver display nav freakout and reboot from some nasty bug once during all this time (just the left quadrant [nav] side—it was up on I-5 N around Sylmar, and very unexpected and weird). But it didn't seem to cause anything major on the Google 17"display side, and they sync'd up rather nicely after the reboot, which might suggest that routing is being fed from the Google to the Garmin side. It might be an interesting test to reboot the Google 17" side during nav to see that happens, but it probably won't affect it much.

So, I would say that @stevenmaifert's assertion of 'your understanding being correct', is only valid in the most basic sense: That turn-by-turn is a Tech Package-only feature.

I'd love to hear from someone who actually does have the inside scoop...