Thanks to a recent report from Business Insider, people have a new reason to look at Tesla as one odd duck. Whatever your feelings are about electric cars, fossil fuels, direct car sales, or anything else having even the least to do with Tesla Motors, this latest nugget is… weird.
Tucked away in Tesla’s 2014 annual report it filed with the SEC recently was a list of risks facing the organization. Anyone who’s studied business management on pretty much any level knows about the value of assessing risks. What was off is the fact that tucked among the risks was this statement:
“If our vehicle owners customize our vehicles or change the charging infrastructure with aftermarket products, the vehicle may not operate properly, which could harm our business.”
Why would “hacking” or modifying a Tesla be risky for the company? Among the reasons listed is changes that would render safety systems partially or completely useless, like installing an aftermarket seat that props the driver up higher. Yeah, that’s right, short people are buying Teslas and putting in seats that make them look bigger, and that means the airbags won’t be as effective. Also cited is the risk of people using “improper external cabling” or charging outlets that aren’t safe, because (duh) you can get electrocuted doing that.
People do weird things with their cars. Hell, automakers do weird things with cars — have you seen the Toyota Sienna SpongeBob van? Most people get that modifying cars isn’t sanctioned by car companies. Some morons install dangerous or irresponsible modifications, which is why state safety inspections exist.
Is Tesla being a control freak? After all, what’s the deal with listing owners “hacking” cars as a business risk? Why don’t other automakers consider aftermarket parts to be a threat to their continued growth?
The fact is that Tesla sits in a unique position. It’s a new, small automaker with a product that people love trying to prove is unsafe, because it’s rocking the boat. Then again, Elon Musk is known for getting a little too domineering with a number of things, so why not this one?