Home Articles Model S Changes from 2012 to 2019

Model S Changes from 2012 to 2019

by Moderator

We’ve identified most of the visible changes made between the 2012 and 2019 Model S. We know there are thousands of additional small and not-so small changes out of sight. Not shown are the extensive software updates and new features, since these changes are mostly included in all cars regardless of age. (Jul-2019 update)

General Changes
  • Adaptive air suspension (April 2019)
  • All-Wheel-Drive, with front motor
  • AM radio removed in Mar-2018 with new MCU2
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Autopilot hardware with 8 cameras, radar and 12 long range sonar sensors
  • Autopilot processor upgraded to HW3 with additional redundancies (March 2019)
  • Battery (12v) moved for easier replacement
  • Brake hold
  • Center console with options for additional cup holders
  • Charge port door auto-closes
  • Charge port lock/unlock quieter
  • Charger current boosted from 40 amps to 48 amps
  • Charger on single phase S/X 100 changed from 72 amps to 48 amps in Nov-2018
  • Collision avoidance
  • DRL LEDs are now wider and are very evenly illuminated
  • Efficiency improved, new front motor, bearings, and tires – LR version now 370 miles range (April 2019)
  • Electric steering upgraded with redundant power connections
  • FOB now has rubber surround with key chain ring
  • FOB operation changes – roll-down windows function removed, open charge port door added
  • FOB security improved (June-2018)
  • Front bumper style changed, eliminated nose cone.
  • Front carpets are held in place with Velcro tabs
  • Front cup holders no longer have cup grippers
  • Front defroster area now a screen (like original 2012-2013 cars, but ~2014-2015 cars had plastic vents that poked through the screen that didn’t look quite as nice)
  • Front door sills have a metal “Model S” insert instead of just black plastic
  • Frunk hatch is a single hook rather than two separate hooks
  • Frunk no longer has seal in hood with insulating membrane (just different, not better/worse)
  • Frunk smaller (to make room for AWD and HEPA filters)
  • Glove box a little smaller, no longer has a cavity for J1772
  • Headliner and side pillars in Alcantara rather than a fabric, black, tan or cream
  • Improved sound insulation
  • Instrument Cluster display has higher resolution (ok, very hard to tell visually)
  • LED Headlights
  • Left side stalks changed places (turn signal now upper stalk)
  • Lower outside panels are now body colored
  • LTE cellular (can be retrofitted to non-LTE cars)
  • Mobile connector button has no cut-lines
  • Mobile connector limited to 32 amps (Gen 1 could handle 40 amps)
  • MCU2 – new faster processor, improved Bluetooth (Mar-2018)
  • Models 40, 60, 60D, 70, 70D, 75, 75D, 85, 85D, P85, P85D, P85+, 90D, P90D discontinued, 75D returned with raven refresh
  • Model designation changed from battery size to terms like Standard Range or Long Range
  • No kangaroo pockets in front seats
  • Now shows tire pressures for each tire
  • Outside bottom rear facia no longer has a chrome strip
  • Placement of stitching on armrests moved from top to sides (should show less dirt over time)
  • Power folding side mirrors
  • Reading lights are now warm-white 2700K rather than the very blue-white 6000K in older cars
  • Rear doors open wider
  • Rear hatch’s rear chrome strip with “TESLA” now has a much stronger embossing
  • Rear license plate illumination is now LEDs
  • Rear electric brakes now do dual duty – braking and as the parking brake
  • Rear seats have “ISO FIX” buttons to indicate hidden child seat latches (all cars have the latches)
  • Rear seat higher headrests (for reduced whiplash risk)
  • Rear trunk well lid is stronger and better designed
  • Rear USB charge ports and rear cup holders in center console
  • Rearview mirror is narrower (which doesn’t matter much)
  • Right Drive stalk no longer illuminated at night
  • Shape of the trunk well is slightly different and perhaps slightly larger
  • Side parking lights are now LEDs
  • Slipstream wheels
  • Supercharger free for life changed to free 400 kW per year (on cars ordered after 2016, and in 2018, no longer free.
  • Supercharger locations greatly expanded from original 6
  • Supercharger power increased to 200 kW (April 2019)
  • Titanium battery shield
  • The 3-camera housing behind the rearview mirror is thinner than the single camera AP1 housing, and only slightly wider than the original rain sensor housing
  • Tire types changed several times over the years. Newest tires have sound deadening foam
  • Visors are taller
  • Windshield surrounding black paint no longer has the round dots transition from black to clear
Options – New and Changes
  • Air filters – dual activated carbon, optional in 2016, now standard in 2018
  • All-wheel drive, optional in 2014, now standard in 2018
  • Autopilot (AP1, AP2, etc.)
  • Carbon Fibre rear spoiler now standard on P100D
  • Enhanced autopilot (discontinued Feb-2019)
  • Fog lights, improved, optional and now standard in 2018
  • Full-self driving capability
  • Full-self driving pre-order unavailable
  • Glass roof, optional in 2016, now standard in 2018
  • HEPA Cabin Filtering, optional in 2016, now standard
  • High Amperage Charger upgrade (to 72 amps), discontinued in 2018
  • Longer range and higher performance with the 90D and P100D
  • Ludicrous on performance versions
  • Non-leather steering wheel (by verbal request only)
  • Pano roof, was optional, but now discontinued Nov-2018
  • Parking assist
  • Performance options for Insane and Ludicrous modes
  • Premium seats have adjustable front headrests
  • Quick connection phone dock
  • Rear facing kids seats – option discontinued Nov-2018
  • Sub-zero weather package with heated rear seats, heating steering wheel, wiper blade defrosters, washer nozzle heaters, was optional, now standard in 2018
  • Three position dynamic turning lights, optional now standard in 2018
  • Ultra High Performance Sound is now standard in 2018
  • XM radio now standard in 2018
Exterior Color Changes
  • Signature Red option only on Signature cars in 2012 in USA
  • Solid White discontinued, then returned July 2019
  • Metallic brown, grey, deep green and dark blue discontinued
  • Titanium Silver Metallic discontinued (introduced in 2015)
  • Deep blue added
  • Midnight silver metallic added
  • Obsidian black added, and discontinued
  • 2019 colors: Black, Midnight silver metallic, Deep Blue, Pearl White, Red
Interior Color/Surface Changes
  • Grey and Tan interior colors discontinued
  • Added Cream interior
  • Added Ultra-white interior
  • Leather seating option replaced with synthetic leather
  • Premium black seating surfaces now standard
  • Ventilated seat option added, removed, and now standard in 100D
  • Fabric seats a free hidden option (by verbal request only)
  • Ultra suede partial dash surface optional, now standard
  • Lacewood, piano black, obeche matte, obeche gloss decor discontinued
  • Figured ash and dark ash decor added
  • Carbon fibre decor standard on 100D, not available on other models
  • Interior colors and surfaces now set as a fixed package and cannot be mixed and matched
  • Interior brushed silver trim color changed to metallic graphite


RFBrost 6-Apr-2019 - 3:32 am

Electric folding mirrors were not in the original (2012) Model S.

Moderator 6-Apr-2019 - 9:50 am

Yep, already on the list as “Power folding side mirrors”.

JaimeZX 5-Apr-2019 - 7:58 pm

This is a terrific list! I want to use it for comparing features on the CPO listings… but only some entries have years next to them. Have you considered breaking the line items into model-year groupings? Thanks!

Moderator 6-Apr-2019 - 9:43 am

Yep, lots of work just to put the list together 🙂 Sorry I don’t have dates for each item. Tesla doesn’t use model year changeovers like other car makers. Feature changes are rolled into production when they are ready and occur many times during each year.

JaimeZX 6-Apr-2019 - 10:19 am

Sure, makes sense. I guess I was speaking loosely when I said “model year,” but even a rough approximation would be helpful… for example I don’t see any green vehicles in EV-CPO newer than 2014… If you’re interested, I’d be glad to start keeping track of some of these things while I “shop” and send my findings.

Moderator 15-Apr-2019 - 1:49 pm

If you have a high-confidence when some feature became available, I’d love to get that info and update the list.

FlatSix911 9-Jun-2019 - 12:03 am

Here is the link to the Model S history of Options by Year from 2012- 2017.
Hope this helps.


GTDoc 2-Jan-2019 - 12:20 am

Hopefully Tesla hasn’t forgotten how important the Model S is to the company both in getting tomthis point and maintaining it’s status as the innovator and leader in electric cars. The model S is due for more than a refresh but a total make over inside and out. Just when the competition finals introduces their “Tesla Killers”, a new model S with a 400 mile range and features such as heads up display, better lane avoidance collision, auto door closure ala X, perhaps 3 motors etc. should blow them into the weeds.

VValleyEV 24-Jan-2019 - 7:37 am

I agree. I have a 2018 MS that I love, but am looking forward to see the brand updated, and want to see it stay highly competitive. Maybe I will be able to enter mine in “classic car” shows in a few years;)

I am thinking that the timing could be quite good for a makeover later this year or early next once the competition has already shown their hands and locked in their manufacturing plans. I think right now they will be focusing S/X resources on cutting over HW3 AP, including the big job to upgrade all the folks like me who have paid for FSD. I don’t expect them to make a lot of other changes to the S/X production line at the same time.

It may be really exciting and fun to watch in this next two years. Range improvement would be a big competitive advantage, and will almost certainly require major change to the “skateboard” platform, and probably something more than merely switching to the Model 3 battery technology. Improvements in volume of wiring and harnesses etc might make the frunk larger, but then space is needed for more battery. Camera-based “driver attention” monitoring like GM uses might allow us to take hands of the wheel or at least not to constantly tug. Am really wondering whether they will move the touchscreen to landscape mode, ie horizontal like the M3. I love the look of the S/X screen recessed into the dash, but I think higher and horizontal is better for less line of sight movement away from the road ahead. I hadn’t thought about more than 2 motors, like Rivian, but that seems more of an off-road feature appropriate for an X or Y.

EVRider 17-May-2018 - 6:39 pm

Another unlisted exterior color change: Titanium Silver Metallic was discontinued in 2016.

Moderator 18-May-2018 - 9:04 am

Thanks – added it.

fonguy 2-Jan-2017 - 5:39 am

Impressive list.
How about performance options including insane and ludicrous modes?

Moderator 2-Jan-2017 - 8:27 am

Forgot those! Now added – thanks.

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