Tesla to owners: please don't pimp your rides

Tesla filed its 2014 annual report with the SEC last week.

It’s a smorgasbord of risks currently facing the company. In fact, I think it’s probably the most creative litany of risk I’ve ever seen from Tesla — somebody in Palo Alto worked overtime to figure out all the things that could screw up Elon Musk’s grand plans.

Take this one:

If our vehicle owners customise our vehicles or change the charging infrastructure with aftermarket products, the vehicle may not operate properly, which could harm our business.

Automobile enthusiasts may seek to “hack” our vehicles to modify its performance which could compromise vehicle safety systems. Also, we are aware of customers who have customised their vehicles with after-market parts that may compromise driver safety. For example, some customers have installed seats that elevate the driver such that airbag and other safety systems could be compromised. Other customers have changed wheels and tires, while others have installed large speaker systems that may impact the electrical systems of the vehicle. We have not tested, nor do we endorse, such changes or products. In addition, customer use of improper external cabling or unsafe charging outlets can expose our customers to injury from high voltage electricity. Such unauthorised modifications could reduce the safety of our vehicles and any injuries resulting from such modifications could result in adverse publicity which would negatively affect our brand and harm our business, prospects, financial condition and operating results.

Tesla is being a tad control-freaky here, but it makes good points. Particularly the part about owners, you know, electrocuting themselves.

That said, car owners have been hacking their cars for decades, customising them in all sort of mild and madcap ways. At one end, you have stuff like seat covers. At the other end low-riders.

Generally speaking, automakers have tolerated this. What can they do? It’s your car.

Tesla, on the other hand, has actually gone to the trouble of defining the practice as a significant risk to its business.

So there you have it. If you want Tesla to stick around, do not pimp your Model S.

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