EMAILED ON December 10, 2019 BY Conor Grant

Thanks to their up-charged upgrades, Teslas are now expensive subscription products

Tesla just notified drivers that have purchased their cars since July 2018 that it will begin to up-charge them for premium data usage like satellite maps and traffic visualizations. 

This announcement didn’t come out of left field, and it may not seem like the end of the world: Tesla first announced plans to charge customers for in-car data last July, and current drivers can still access most functionality in the car — like music streaming or web access — by using their phone hot spots. 

But this new up-charge does raise some questions…  

Particularly about about what Tesla ownership — and car ownership — will look like down the road. Is this a sign that further price increases are in store for Tesla owners? 

If history is any guide, the answer is yes. 

Tesla has already been criticized for intentionally limiting the power of its own batteries in some models… and then charging up to $9k for an “upgrade” to unlock them.

So while Tesla’s most recent data up-charge will only require owners to pay an extra $10 per month in data charges, this increase likely won’t be the last up-charge…

In fact, Tesla’s upgrade system is insanely complex 

Tesla’s standard models are notoriously bare-bones, and then the company charges extra for things like extended-range batteries, better audio systems… and cooler paint colors.

Tesla’s Model 3 is often described as a $35k car. But Tesla offers so many upgrades that prices can climb as high as $86k (more, CNN notes, than a Maserati). 

Many of Tesla’s “upgrades” are more cosmetic than functional (like, ahem, different colors), and the cost of these upgrades changes — and usually increases — over time. 

But if you’re looking to spend your tickle cash on a Tesla, here are some of Tesla’s past up-charges for upgrades. If you want:

  • A cream-colored interior… that’d cost ya $1.5k
  • Sportier wheels… that’d cost ya up to $4.5k.
  • Full self driving (someday)… that’d cost ya $7k.
  • Fancy lights and air filters… that’d cost ya $3.5k.
  • Really nice speakers… that’d cost ya $2.5k.
  • Panoramic glass roof… that’d cost ya $1.5k.

A color that’s not black… that’d cost ya $1.5k (for blue), $2k (for white), or $2.5k (for red).