Tesla Plans to Upgrade Its Cars Every 12 to 18 Months, Elon Musk Says

Once again, Tesla breaks with automotive industry norms.

Flickr / Steve Jurvetson

Tesla has never been the kind of company that "follows the norm,” as the saying goes. Since the introduction of the Model S in 2012, Elon Musk's electric car company has done a fantastic job advancing its automotive division's products, adding upgraded models and features on a schedule that far exceeds the regular life cycle schedule followed by most automakers. 

However, Tesla's rapid advancements could leave some owners with buyer’s remorse, as their cool new cars rapidly become outdated—and it doesn't seem like that trend is likely to change anytime soon. According to Musk, Tesla plans to unveil significant hardware upgrades for its cars every 12 to 18 months, as well as minor software upgrades as often as every week. 

Most car manufacturers, by contrast, give their vehicles a significant remodeling every three to five years.

If the jump from the first version of Autopilot to the new Autopilot 2.0 is any indication of the live of hardware changes Tesla has planned, that could mean the company is planning massive upgrades of key features every year. And it might not be easy—or even possible—to add those features onto older models. 

Tesla currently only offers 36-month leasing terms on its models, which could mean by the time a customer is ready to return his or her Model S, there could be three newer models ahead of it. This could also affect customers who decide to purchase their Teslas, as rapid introduction of newer models could result in quicker depreciation. But as with all things in life, we'll just have to wait and see.