It’s nothing new for people to want to pimp their rides. There are whole television shows devoted to making mild-mannered cars outrageous and already impressive cars insane, but Tesla is hoping that owners of the Model S will just leave their cars alone.
The news comes in Tesla’s annual 10-K document which is a lengthy document that all publicly traded companies in the United States are required to file each year. It’s geared toward investors and gives them an update on the state of affairs at a company, including any risks to the company’s health.
Tesla’s report includes concerns that owners may customize their vehicles and that the resulting cars might not be safe for owners. This might mean the addition of aftermarket products that affect the car’s performance or changes that affect how the vehicles charge. Simply using modified cables for charging poses all sorts of risks from fire to potential high voltage shocks.
Not only are these modifications unsafe, they’re potentially very damaging to Tesla’s business. Everyone still remembers those vehicle fires during accidents, few as they were, and how suddenly the news was full of doom and gloom about the safety of Teslas.
The company maintained their stance that their cars were safe, but still took action to reassure the public including software updates and reinforcements to the bottom of the car which would prevent the battery from being damaged. Despite a modified Tesla being out of the company’s control, they still don’t need that bad publicity or the unending debate over what Tesla should have done differently.
Auto manufacturers face all kinds of bad publicity all the time, sometimes due to recall worthy problems and sometimes due to people messing around with their cars. Tesla is still a very small player in the industry and bad publicity is harder to manage. Elon Musk regularly talks about how electric cars are safer than gas cars in an effort to convince the public to give them a try, yet people are still skeptical.
There’s a good chance that people who own Teslas won’t even see this report and, let’s face it, a good number of people who own the company’s stock won’t read through it either. It might not convince anyone to leave their Tesla alone, but having this kind of information out their publicly gives them an out if something does go wrong.
When someone cobbles together their own homemade charging cable and it blows up in their face, documents like this are the legal equivalent of your parents looking at you and saying, “I told you so!”