Header image alt text


Electric Vehicle information for Atlanta and Georgia

Tesla Model S / X / 3 / Y used information

Tesla basics

You can get basic information about Tesla cars pretty much everywhere else on the internet. In fact, it’s hard not to be bombarded constantly with Tesla information … Unfortunately much of it is from biased fan sites that are not real journalism and don’t evaluate the cars (and company statements) critically. Sites like Electrek and InsideEVs (or worse, Teslarati) are prolific but ultimately are low quality sources when you are wondering about what might be wrong with buying a Tesla. For example, consider the revelations reported in 2023 by Reuters that Tesla had wildly over-estimated the range of their cars and designed their car software to hide this (giving a bad name to EV range numbers in general, when other carmakers did not have this problem), or that Tesla hid known problems from owners and made them pay for repairs. When doing your Tesla research, try to step out of the fanboy bubble and look for reporting by real automotive journalists.

Used Tesla details

Tesla models have now been on the market since 2012, long enough that you can easily find them used. Used EVs tend to be bargain in general, because A) they don’t really wear out like gas-engine cars do, and B) their prices are depressed by the ever-improving capabilities of the newest cars on the market.

When looking for a used Tesla (or any used car, for that matter), one problem is that it can be difficult figuring out exactly which options the car is equipped with. The seller may have provided insufficient photos, or some features can only be discerned from photos if you know exactly what to look for.

For Teslas, though, it gets more complex, because Tesla doesn’t stick to a “model year” schedule of annual upgrades. Other carmakers make upgrades to their models once a year, but Tesla makes upgrades on the fly when they are ready. The timeline below is useful for determining what features a particular Tesla does or doesn’t have. When evaluating a specific Tesla, you need to find out exactly when it was assembled. You can find this month and year by looking at the label on the driver’s door frame (ask the seller for a picture of it) and via a VIN decoder.

Here are the highlights of major production changes in Tesla models.

Jun 2012: Model S launches
– ships with earliest “A” and “B” batteries, believed to be limited to 90 kW and 120 kW charging, respectively
– ships with “MCU1”, first gen media control unit that drives the large center screen

Oct 2013: Model S starts shipping with “D” battery, capable of 150 kW charging (stations to support that would not come out until 2019)

Oct 2014: Model S starts shipping with “Hardware 1”, consisting of:
– a single camera mounted at the top of the windshield
– forward looking radar in the lower grille, supplied by Bosch
– ultrasonic acoustic location sensors in the front and rear bumpers that provide a 360-degree obstruction sensing around the car
– computer based on Mobileye EyeQ3 processor
– a HW1 car cannot be upgraded to a HW2 car

Nov 2014: Model S starts shipping with “E” battery; benefit not known but may be longer life

Apr 2016: Model S starts shipping with new front fascia, replacing the old “nose cone” design in place since the 2012 launch, and matching the Model X design.

Sep 2015: Model X launches

Nov 2016: Models S and X start shipping with “Hardware 2”, consisting of:
– eight surround cameras
– forward-facing radar with upgraded processing capabilities
– 12 ultrasonic sensors
– computer based on Nvidia Drive PX 2 GPU for CUDA based GPGPU computation
– a HW2 car can have its processor upgraded later, but not the sensors (e.g. cameras)

July 2017: Model 3 launches

Aug 2017: Models S, X and 3 start shipping with “Hardware 2.5”, same as HW2 above except adds:
– additional GPU processor “node” enabled
– wiring redundancy
– note that Model 3 was launched with HW 2.5

August 2017: Dashcam is only available for Model S and Model X cars manufactured after August 2017, and all Model 3 cars.

March 2018: Model S and X start shipping with upgraded media control unit MCU2 (that drives the large center screen) with much faster hardware (Intel X86-64) than the old hardware used since launch in 2012 (NVidia Tegra). Tesla has not yet offered an upgrade path for MCU1 owners, who complain of sluggish performance, but in May 2019 there were rumors of such an upgrade being offered eventually. More info here: https://teslatap.com/mcu/

March 2019: Models S and X nomenclature changes away from kWh-size numbering (60, 85, 100, etc.).

April 2019: Models S and X (not Model 3) start shipping with “Hardware 3”, same as HW2 above except adds:
– custom Tesla-designed processor, claimed to be 10 times more powerful than Hardware 2.5.
– Model 3 launch unknown as of Jun 2019
– HW2 and HW2.5 cars will be upgradable to HW3, by swapping out the processor board
– customers who purchased the Full Self-Driving package will be eligible for upgrade to HW3 without cost

April 2019: Models S and X (not Model 3) start shipping with the “Raven” configuration, which offers:
– improved, more efficient drivetrain (meaning longer range from same battery)
– upgraded air suspension system with adaptive damping

October 2020: All Tesla models (S, X, 3 and Y) start shipping with updated control hardware that can make use of the CCS adapter (launched in 2022) so that Tesla cars can charge at CCS stations. Prior cars require a retrofit procedure that is performed by Tesla for a price.

January 2024: Model 3 starts shipping with a refreshed design (internal codename “Highland”) that introduces a controversial new steering wheel with no stalks (no turn signal lever), ventilated seats (finally), new ambient lighting features and a rear screen. They also tweak the front nose design and made slight changes to the rear trunk opening. Other adjustments reportedly reduce the driving noise, a significant problem in prior Model 3 and Model Y models.