With Tesla CEO Elon Musk always announcing new innovations for his cars, there’s almost not a day that goes by without Tesla making headlines. In fact, Tesla fans have pledged monetary support to this trailblazing corporation.
Tesla’s vehicles are not like any other, making a unique reputation of their own. But no matter what you think of the electric car company’s “unique” CEO — with his active Twitter presence and unorthodox methods for selling EVs (no advertising, no dealerships, all online).
Tesla’s big announcements like its new self-driving hardware are some key details about the cars that make them just a little bit more special.
But what makes Tesla better than others?
Sure, there are other electric cars out there that feature regenerative braking, one-pedal driving, instant acceleration, and fast charging. But that still doesn’t make them anything like Tesla.
And no car brand, from the EVs to the gasoline-fueled options, comes with as many hidden modes and settings as Tesla.
Here’s a rundown of Tesla’s secrets that most people don’t know about, according to ‘Hotcars.com’, and this is what makes Tesla, well, Tesla.
10. Easter Egg: Turn Google Maps Into Mars
Musk unveiled a new rocket booster and interplanetary spacecraft that SpaceX, his other company, is working on. The vehicles will be able to lift 100 people and tons of cargo into earth’s orbit and then refuel before going on a trip to Mars.
Technically, he could be sending Tesla vehicles also – which is why there’s a new Easter Egg in Tesla vehicles enabled by entering “Mars” as an ‘access code’ (holding the ‘T’ button).
For those times you want to take an interplanetary adventure, let Google Maps take care of the rest. According to Autocar, Tesla vehicles outfitted with Google Maps can change the setting to Mars. So it doesn’t actually show you Mars, but it sure makes it easier for a driver to imagine they’re on another planet.
9. It’s Illegal To Buy A Tesla In Some States
The electric car company can only sell and service its vehicles freely in about a dozen states, while it faces restrictions in others. Some, like New Mexico, ban Tesla from offering sales or repairs without going through a dealership. In January, the company struck a deal with Michigan to resolve a 2016 lawsuit, a symbolic victory that allowed it to sell in the backyard of the nation’s largest carmakers.
Supporters of Tesla say the shop in New Mexico marks the first time the company has partnered with a tribe to get around state laws, though the idea has been in the works for years.
From Oklahoma to Connecticut and other states, consumers can’t buy Teslas because the company won’t partner with dealerships and hasn’t been successful in winning over the courts or lawmakers to allow its direct sales model.
As Investopedia points out, this is due to Tesla’s unique sales model. Unlike most car companies that have their own dealerships, Tesla had a direct-to-consumer model only. Recently though, Tesla has changed their tune by opening up some dealerships. But before, it was a lot harder to buy a Tesla. According to Investopedia, they only had showrooms where interested buyers could take a look up close in person. There were, however, no test drives allowed. Nor was any salesperson able to even provide pricing. Instead, they had to refer customers online where they could order a Tesla vehicle. Sounds a little backward from the norm. It does look to be changing though, with some states reversing their stances.
8. Tesla’s Patents Are Open To All
Although it’s technically not a secret, most people don’t realize that Tesla’s patents are available to the public. Back in 2014, Musk published a blog that shared some surprising news: all their designs are open source. According to Investopedia, that means anyone can make an electric car using Tesla’s designs and technology. That is if they have the resources and tools to build one.
So why did Musk do this? In his blog post on Tesla’s website, Musk admits they initially thought patents were a good idea. They didn’t want other car companies to copy what they were doing. But they realized it didn’t line up with their beliefs. In Musk’s blog, he writes, “Electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.” Tesla realized though that they needed other car companies to make more electric cars in order to combat the carbon crisis.
By opening its patents to the world, Tesla encourages other car companies to make more electric cars. Although Tesla’s patents are free, it makes the company look a lot better at the end of the day for wanting to reduce carbon emissions in the air.
7. The Model S Broke A Machine That Tests For Roof Crush Evaluations
Tesla talks the talk, but do they walk the walk? Plenty of people sing the praises of the car company and its CEO, Elon Musk, for making great automobiles. But how did people know they were the real deal? If there was any question about the safety of their vehicles, a crash evaluation back in 2013 allayed any concerns. According to Road and Track, the Model S ranked well in safety and performance. Based on a one to five scale, the Model S managed to notch out a 5.4 rating. That means the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration went out of its way to give the Model S bonus points for its performance. That should quiet any naysayers out there.
As Road and Track reports, the Model S earned its high rating due to the vehicle’s design. As a result, the interior of the car keeps everyone safer than many other vehicles. But that’s not the big reveal not everyone has heard. Rather, it’s the fact that the car managed to break a machine that’s for roof crush testing. The car is so safe it’ll damage anything that hits it. That seems to line up with the saying, “The best defense is a good offense.”
6. What The Car Models Spell Out
It’s no surprise Elon Musk wants Tesla’s cars to look slick and stylish. Any car manufacturer is going to strive for the highest level of design. Some would even go so far as to call the cars sexy. That’s not so far from the truth. In fact, Musk hopes to literally finalize that when the Model Y SUV rolls around, as Business Insider points out. Already, at the time of writing this, three models exist: the Model S, the Model 3, and the Model X. Once the Model Y comes along, Musk can officially call his lineup of cars sexy since they spell out “S3XY.”
Although the team over at Tesla originally planned on calling it Model E, they went with Model 3 after Ford registered the trademark. In a quote provided by Business Insider, Musk responded to Ford’s swift name grab saying, “Like why did you go steal Tesla’s E? Like you’re some sort of fascist army marching across the alphabet, some sort of Sesame Street robber?” The quote serves to illustrate why so many are behind Musk. Not only does he deliver great cars, but he’s got an excellent sense of humor. He’s not a reserved brainiac who hides from the public tinkering away on his toys. Instead, he’s down to earth and personable. Ford probably felt embarrassed after getting so royally called out.
5. You Can’t Drive a Model X On The Brooklyn Bridge
This next nugget about Tesla may not serve as the best-selling point. But it’s one of the reasons Tesla’s Model X is so successful. According to Jalopnik, the Model X weighs about 5,441 lbs. while at rest. But when it’s on the go, the real weight exceeds 6,000 lbs. Why does that matter, some would suggest? Not a whole lot, unless you’re a Model X owner in Brooklyn, New York.
Apparently, as Jalopnik reports, the Brooklyn Bridge has a weight limit. What’s that weight limit exactly? The weight limit to cross the bridge is just 3 tons, which comes out to 6,000 lbs. That means it’s against the law to drive one of these Tesla models down the Brooklyn Bridge. That’s not much of a convenience for Model X owners in New York. Jalopnik doesn’t shy away from the fact that someone in NYPD could easily penalize a Model X driver on the Brooklyn Bridge. While this does put New York Tesla drivers at a disadvantage who own the Model X, they’ll just have to plan their trip accordingly before departing. Apparently, Tesla made a decision about the Model X’s weight for tax purposes.
4. Easter Egg: Mario Kart Rainbow Road Feature
Just because Tesla is serious about delivering high-quality cars on the road doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun. In fact, they’ve even gone so far as to insert easter eggs throughout their products. Commonly seen in movies and TV shows, an easter egg is a joke or pop culture reference that’s usually hidden in plain sight. It’s just another example of what makes Tesla a fun company that doesn’t take itself too seriously. People love finding easter eggs across Tesla’s vehicles as much as Elon Musk likes revealing them.
Back in 2016, Musk revealed a fun autopilot feature over twitter. As reported by Business Insider, Musk advised Tesla owners, “Active autopilot 4X in quick succession for psychedelic cowbell road. And yes, we are adding more cowbell soon.” When activated, the screen turns into what looks like the Rainbow Road from the Mario Kart video games. Rainbow Road is usually the final stage in a Mario Kart game that’s just a colorful road high up in space. While video game enthusiasts will twitch remembering the horrors of flying off Rainbow Road, Tesla owners get to experience a colorful visual feature. It’s just surprising no one else discovered it first.
3. Grad School Wasn’t For Musk
Many wonder and believe that Elon Musk is a genius. But like Einstein, school wasn’t for him. While Einstein left school at a younger age, Musk walked away as a postgraduate. Musk went to the University of Pennsylvania. He ended up graduating from there in 1995 with two degrees in physics and economics, according to Investopedia. Shortly after, he decided to head west for California. There, he attended Stanford to get his Ph.D in physics.
As most know, Stanford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but he left Stanford after just two days, as Investopedia reports. Instead, he decided to spend his time working on Zip2. Zip2 is a company he started along with his brother, Kimbal Musk, according to Britannica. In the end, no one can really question Musk’s decision. When people see Musk now, they think it was a smart decision in retrospect. Many probably wondered what he was thinking at the time. It’s no wonder people overlook this fact that he never finished his Ph.D. They just see him now and assume he finished out everything he started. While there’s no doubt he could’ve finished his Ph.D., he certainly made the right move.
2. Easter Egg: Meet The Tesla Team
Just when a Tesla owner thought they knew everything their infotainment system could do, something new comes up. There’s just no end to the number of features that digital screen has. As one can imagine, there’s an important (and dedicated) team of developers, engineers and plain hard workers behind the Tesla vehicles. It’s only natural one would pay them a little appreciation, after all.
Now, Tesla owners can, when they access their infotainment system. With just a single push of the Tesla icon (this button does so much, depending on how you push it), a screen appears with info about the car. Listed at the top of the screen is the Model type, along with the VIN # in the bottom left. In the bottom right though, there’s a logo for that particular model. If the owner pushes and holds that icon, the screen will switch over after a couple of seconds. What it turns into is a photo of the Model’s development team, as noted by Autocar. It’s the least an owner can do to pay homage to the team behind their favorite car. You can’t blame Tesla for wanting to include this, as fans will no doubt want to see the faces behind Tesla motors.
1. Musk Didn’t Start Tesla, He Joined It
Everyone just sorts of assumes Elon Musk founded Tesla. In actuality, Musk joined Tesla back in 2004. Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning had started Tesla a year before in 2003, according to Investopedia. Today, Musk is pretty much synonymous with Tesla. He is the face of the company, after all. The year Musk joined was a critical one for the company. As per Investopedia, he became a member of their board of directors. In addition, he spearheaded Tesla’s Series A financing. The public just assumes he started Tesla because he’s founded other popular companies like SpaceX. But in actuality, he came along a year after the company started.
It’s no wonder people think Musk started the company. Even Tesla calls Musk a founder. It’s in their corporate governance, according to Investopedia, which details the company’s stakeholders and policies. This, in turn, rubbed one of the original founders Martin Eberhard the wrong way. He even tried to sue Musk back in 2009 for what he thought was rewriting history. Sounds like Musk came in and took more control than Eberhard was willing to relinquish. Most people wouldn’t know it though just from looking at Musk and Tesla on the surface.