As soon as Arizona fitness coach Torrey Penn bought his new Tesla Model Y online this September he knew what extras he would need for his new ride — and it didn’t involve an extra $10,000 Full Self-Driving advanced driving package with automatic steering, braking, and turning while on any road.
Instead Penn, 43, left Tesla.com and headed to Amazon and eBay, where he quickly found what he wanted: a Tesla key card ring to open and start his new electric vehicle. He bought it on eBay for $99 as a replacement for an ill-fitting wedding band. The ring arrived last weekend and he immediately programmed it. Now he can put his hand near the front door and the car unlocks and starts, even if he doesn’t have his connected smartphone or key card on him. (Instead of traditional car keys, Teslas have key cards, like a hotel.)
His wife joked to him, “Now you’re married to Tesla,” he said in a phone call.
Tesla fandom runs deep — so deep that even if Tesla doesn’t sell a product on its official online store or during the online car-purchasing process, devoted fans find a way to make it a reality.
“Some people only will buy Tesla products,” Penn commented, but he’s more open to third-party options. “If it works and [it’s] not going to void my warranty that’s what I’m going to do.”
On the Tesla store there are only about 35 “vehicle accessories” for sale for each electric vehicle, including different types of floor mats, charging cables, and tires.
The president of aftermarket Tesla shop EVAnnex, Matt Pressman, says some of the most popular products from his online store eventually go “mainstream.” That means they either make it onto the official store or into Tesla manufacturing. One example is when his dad built a custom center console for his early version Model S, back when the original EV was delivered with just a flat, open space below the touchscreen area. It was sold on EVAnnex as its first unofficial Tesla product.
Now a console with a cupholder, space for a phone to charge, and other compartments comes standard in all Tesla vehicles. For early Model S vehicles (from 2012 through 2016) the insert is still available to buy as an extra on EVAnnex, since it doesn’t come built-in, as with later versions.
Also on EVAnnex, Michael Pressman, Matt’s brother, developed a “frunk cooler” that slips right into the front trunk area of his Tesla Model 3 to store cold beverages and perishable foods for, say, a picnic. This year the cooler was a summertime hit on the site and the top-selling product. It’s not something you can find at the Tesla store, yet.
Another highly popular add-on is this lift gate that makes Tesla Model 3 trunks and frunks easier to automatically and smoothly open. Last month, Tesla announced that the next version of the Model 3 will come standard with improved trunk opening. The third-party solution evidently gained enough attention to be incorporated into the car’s refreshed design.
Then there’s the Tesla app. Currently the mobile app, which lets owners unlock the doors, start the car, and set the climate remotely, only works on iOS and Android smartphones. But there’s been enough clamoring for an official Apple Watch app that a Model 3 owner made their own. It’s available on the App Store for $7.99, but it’s technically not Tesla-certified. That could be problematic, but the app connects to mostly low-risk features like seat warmers and door locks.
As Penn noted, “If other companies can do this,” like those behind the Apple Watch app, key ring, or trunk opener, “eventually down the road Tesla can.”
The trick seems to be using Twitter to catch Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s attention. “If enough people tweet at him, over time he … says it’s going to happen,” Penn observed.