Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks you’ve likely been blasted with news about the Tesla Autopilot option. Like many existing Model S owners, I drooled over the thought of having the dual motor option along (the “D”) and the autopilot / automatic cruise control (ACC).
This led to a very public outcry by a group of soon-to-be Model S owners that happened to miss the mark by placing their order days before the new features were announced. In other words, their Model S won’t be bundled with these new Tesla D options.
I digress but I personally think they need to get over it. Technology advances continuously (especially with Mr. Musk behind the wheel) and your choice to purchase the car at the time that you do is just that – your decision.
So, what if you could upgrade your existing Model S with the Tesla D options? How much would something like that cost?
Labor is Costly
Tesla’s official answer on whether Tesla Autopilot can be retrofitted is “No” and that is not going to change anytime soon. The changes are extensive, invasive and need to be done when the car is being built.
Our friend TeslaTap estimates that it would cost a staggering $67,000 if Tesla were to retrofit older Model S with the autopilot feature.
It’s less labor intensive and more economical if one were to integrate the hardware and electronics during the construction of the Model S versus having to dismantle the vehicle, build new mounting provisions, re-wire, installing new hardware, and reassemble the car after the upgrades were in place.
A retrofit just doesn’t make economical or logistical sense and is likely why Tesla does not offer it as an option for existing Model S owners. Let alone, Tesla Service Centers wouldn’t be equipped or have the capacity to handle such an extensive retrofit.
What Would a Tesla Autopilot Retrofit Consist Of?
For starters, the Model S would need to be completely re-wired to account for the autopilot hardware consisting of long-range radars, ultrasonic sensors, new camera equipment and new front nose cone sensors. The entire front and rear fascia of the vehicle would also need to be removed in order to access the new mounting position. The Tesla D option also brings new electric brakes – all-around – and electronic brake controllers to be paired with the autopilot feature.
TeslaTap estimates that the cost of parts would run somewhere around $20k – not too terrible considering this would represent approximately 15% of the price of a fully loaded Model S. But, the kicker? Labor. 269 hours of it.
Tesla Service Centers bill at $175/ hour which tacks on an additional $47,075 in labor costs. This brings a grand total of over $67,000 for parts and labor if one were to truly consider retrofitting Tesla autopilot to the Model S.
It’s no wonder why Tesla Motors will not consider retrofitting existing Model S owners with the new autopilot feature – no matter how loudly they complain. Not retrofitting existing cars will likely create a burgeoning Tesla secondary market.
Hmmm … interesting.