As the world's most famous producer of electric automobiles, Tesla has built an extraordinarily loyal fan base through its dedication to innovation. Of course, the breakneck pace at which Tesla moves is a double-edged sword--at least, that's how some customers see it.
As a case in point, consider a recent conversation founder Elon Musk participated in over the weekend on Twitter.
It began with Musk announcing the rollout of the latest version of its "Autopilot" feature for "Hardware 2" (HW2) vehicles, which contain newer sensor and computing hardware than previous models (HW1). Twitter user @VinnyLingham asked if it would be possible for HW1 (especially Model X) owners to pay for an upgrade to HW2.
"Unfortunately, that would require stripping down the entire car and replacing 300+ parts," responded Musk. "Wish there was an easy way."
Another Twitter user, @dtweiseth, then joined the conversation to beg Musk for a "refurb" assembly line, allowing owners of older cars to be able to more easily enjoy the company's newer technology rollouts without having to buy a new car.
In turn, Musk responded with the following:
"Tesla will never stop innovating. People are buying the wrong car if they expect this. There will be major revs every 12 to 18 months."
@dtweiseth Tesla will never stop innovating. People are buying the wrong car if they expect this. There will be major revs every 12 to 18 months.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 22, 2017
With that single tweet, Musk highlights what makes Tesla a completely different type of car company:
Whereas traditional automakers are happy with simple tweaks from year to year, they typically complete major overhauls to design and functionality every four or five years. With an addiction to continuous improvement, however, Tesla makes major changes as quickly as possible.
"If we applied resources to doing super complex retrofits, our pace of innovation would drop dramatically," added Musk in another tweet.
I don't own a Tesla, but I can feel these consumers' pain. It's kind of like when you buy a new iPhone and a few months later a new model makes you feel like you've got an old phone.
Except in this case, the phone is a car that will set you back around $70,000.
Maybe the real Tesla enthusiasts should start leasing instead of buying.