Tesla offers infotainment hardware upgrade for older Model S and Model X

It’s a $2,500 upgrade that will add some features (Netflix!), remove others (all radio)

The owners of older Tesla Model S and Model X cars are in for a treat as Tesla just announced an infotainment system upgrade for cars built in March 2018 or earlier. This upgrade is not just an over-the-air software update, either. Tesla will replace hardware to make the touchscreen faster, smoother and more feature rich. There’s a catch, though: it’ll cost $2,500, plus tax.

The new features list is extensive. In cars that have the questionably named “Full Self-Driving Capability” installed, they will now be able to run Tesla’s trick Sentry Mode using the front, rear and side cameras. While parked, video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Twitch and YouTube will all be available to watch on the screen. And you’ll be able to play all the graphics-intensive video games like Beach Buggy Racing 2, Cuphead and Stardew Valley. The driving visualizer (shows traffic around you in an animation) when using Autopilot will also be operable for those with “Full Self-Driving Capability.”

Tesla says to expect faster browsing and video playback, along with that more responsive touchscreen. It’ll also be capable of displaying album art for music played over Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the upgrade takes away AM, FM and Sirius XM radio capability. The price of progress. You’ll need to get up to date with internet radio if you still want to listen to your favorite radio stations.

The upgrade schedule is a bit murkier, as Tesla is offering the $2,500 upgrade on an invite-only basis right now. Those with the Autopilot Computer 2.5 with the “Full Self-Driving Capability” option are being scheduled first. In late March, customers with the Autopilot Computer 2.0 and the “Full Self-Driving” option will begin to receive invites. There is no timeline for the remaining Model S and Model X owners, but Tesla claims the upgrades are “coming soon.”

Once you receive an invitation for the upgrade, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment to have the work done at a Tesla service center. Upgrading the hardware of a car’s infotainment system post-purchase is not something we’ve seen before. Over-the-air software updates have been the norm for Tesla and distinctive in their own right, but this should keep a Model S or Model X feeling fresher and modern for longer without needing to buy a completely new car. That’s great for owners, but it also seems like a questionable business decision for a company that sells new cars. 


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