When Richard Wolpert put in an order for a new Model S in March, he asked the Tesla reps if adaptive cruise control would be offered later, and if so, he was willing to wait. They said no. So when Tesla announced its Auto Pilot mode last week, Wolpert was a bit pissed. And he’s not alone.

Over 700 people have signed a petition on Change.org to “Petition to force Tesla to come up with a retrofit for the new AutoPilot features for existing owners who were early supporters of the company/product” created by Wolpert.

“If Tesla had said it’s coming, but we can’t say exactly when, I would have waited,” Wolpert told the San Jose Mercury News. “With ‘traditional’ car companies we know there are new models every year, and we factor that into our decision. With Tesla there was no talk or disclosure there would be effectively a ‘new’ Model S, so we bought blind.”

While Wolpert has every right to be irritated, automakers – or tech companies, for that matter – aren’t in the business of announcing major upgrades before they’re released. It’s a competitive advantage and can stymie sales, no matter if it’s from Ford or BMW or Tesla. Also, salespeople generally aren’t in the loop about major future product updates.

The lack of upgradability shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, considering our initial report on the new front-facing camera and sensor system that was being installed on new models a few weeks back. Tesla confirmed to Jalopnik that older models would not be available for a retrofit because of the extent and expense of the modifications.


During last week’s event, Musk told a group of reporters that potential buyers can’t always be waiting for the next iteration, likely anticipating the blowback from current owners. And there’s also Tesla’s constant software updates, which have added new features to the Model S over the past two years.


Other owners are irritated about the inclusion of all-wheel-drive on the “D” models, something that they hoped for, but decided to buy since the option wasn’t on the horizon.

Since the original petition went up, another petition was submitted to Change.org to “Disregard the retrofit petition”, including this comment from Brian Sherin of Santa Cruz, which sums it up thusly:

Yes, this is ludicrous. It’s like saying Apple has to give original iPhone owners a new iPhone every time the model is upgraded. It would be nice for customer loyalty, if perhaps the upgrades were offered at a reasonable price, if they are feasible.