Published on July 28th, 2020 | by Zachary Shahan0
The Evolution of Tesla Vehicle Design & Tesla Aftermarket Products
July 28th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
Leading into our first ever virtual trade show, which is tomorrow, Wednesday, July 29, I just interviewed Matt Pressman, cofounder and president of EV Annex, about the company’s deep history making Tesla aftermarket products, insights from that work, how Tesla vehicles have changed over time, and some of Matt’s favorite products. Check out the interview below the following picture of Matt and his father, Roger Pressman, cofounder and chief engineer at EV Annex, who I interviewed in June regarding his new Tesla Model Y and how it compared to the other three Tesla models he has owned (the Model 3, Model X, and Model S). At the bottom of this article you can also watch a video interview the Tesla Geeks Show recently conducted with Matt and Roger and the aforementioned chat I had with Roger about the Model Y.
1. You guys have been making Tesla aftermarket products probably longer than 99% of people who love Tesla today have even known about Tesla. Can you talk a bit about how the interior design and features of Tesla vehicles have changed over the years and how that has influenced the evolution of your products?
For sure. We were the very first company in the Tesla ecosystem. Our company, EVANNEX actually started way back in 2012 in a garage. My dad was building a center console insert for the Tesla Model S. He’d taken delivery of the first Model S in Florida, Signature VIN #184, and the interior didn’t have a center console. Being an engineer, he decided to build one and posted some designs on Tesla’s forums in 2011. He got a lot of requests for the console, so he asked me to create a makeshift website with a “wait list” for the console. It took off and we had ourselves a little business.
The Model S was very minimalist. The design was modern, simple, and sleek. But it lacked some handy storage add-ons. In addition to missing a front console, it lacked a rear console, a cubby compartment, and coat hooks.
A few of these were later rolled into the Model S and X OEM equipment package. And many more features made their way into the Model 3 and Y. But we still offer a popular Model 3 and Y center console insert too that helps you effectively organize your stuff.
2. One thing I love about your products is you find very useful and clever solutions that focus on practicality while matching Tesla’s style and design aesthetic. Can you speak a bit about how you identify product needs and go about designing them? (I imagine there are a few different avenues for coming up with and choosing new products to develop.)
Tesla’s design approach is very spartan and stark. It looks cool but some of us Tesla owners sort of live in our car! We want lots of storage and functionality for long road trips. Sometimes we spend a lot of time at Superchargers — especially when we travel a lot. Some of us like to go camping or tailgating. In our opinion, a Tesla owner should have everything necessary to make the car super-useful. It’s also a big investment. So we try to offer products to protect your Tesla too.
We’re a family business and we all own Teslas. We also deal with more Tesla owners than anyone in the market — outside of Tesla themselves. A lot of ideas come from other Tesla owners too. Some of these Tesla owners even create products that we actually sell. For example, a friend on the Tesla forums designed a cool Lighted T product and we decided to sell it on our site. So our family generally creates products we find useful and through suggestions from the Tesla community itself.
3. Being the longest serving company in this ecosystem, you have seen the Tesla community grow and change like almost no one else. Can you talk about how consumer demands seem to have changed as new models have come out? Or are they more or less the same, with little product tweaks here or there?
Early on, the Tesla community was super-techy. A lot of engineers. A lot of software folks. Of course, there were also a lot of owners who were into cleantech and they cared about the environment.
Later on, when Elon introduced the “D” (dual motor) variant and insane mode — which eventually became Ludicrous mode — Tesla began to attract gearheads who love awesome performance. Eventually, we had customers seeking a sporty carbon fiber look to emulate some of the high-performance cars out there.
Nowadays, younger Model 3 owners want add-ons like pneumatic struts, tow hitches, and Qi chargers. It’s early days, but Model Y owners tend to appreciate things like pet covers, seat hoodies, and screen protectors.
4. You also get a sense for new-vehicle purchase and delivery flow like almost no one else outside of Tesla. This is some intel I’m always super eager for. Can you explain how that looks and feels on your end — the “wave” of deliveries, end-of-quarter rushes, etc.? And do any highlights regarding demand and deliveries stand out — whether right now (intel, please!) or in general?
First, let me explain. Most car buyers purchase aftermarket accessories right after they take delivery of their car. So, sometimes in the middle of a quarter, we’ll see heavy action in Europe that may correlate with Tesla’s burst of deliveries in Europe. Often, we’ll get a big boost at the end of the quarter with US-based customers (often based in California) as Tesla tries to make their end-of-quarter numbers. Before Q2 ended, we saw a massive amount of orders from Model Y owners. We knew something big was going on.
Elon once said that Model Y will outsell S, 3, and X combined. In our view, that’s the case already when we look at our own product catalog. Demand appears to be really high for Model Y. Put it this way: I haven’t sold a share of my Tesla stock. Things are looking good from my vantage point.
5. Aside from selling Tesla aftermarket products, you are deeply a part of the Tesla community. You are good friends with several notable influencers, and you are one of the nicest people in the world who I’m sure makes friends easily. You also follow the Tesla news very closely. How do you feel about the state of Tesla awareness in the broader public today, and how that has been changing recently?
Thanks, Zach, that’s super-flattering. I love this community. Tesla owners are a really cool bunch of people. I’ve met some amazing friends through the Tesla scene. I also follow the Tesla news closely and I’m really disappointed in how Tesla is portrayed through traditional media outlets. There’s just so much FUD out there. No one seems to get the story right. It’s awesome that news outlets like CleanTechnica exist. It’s one of the few places where I get to read an accurate account of what’s happening with Tesla and the EV community in general.
I think awareness has grown as more people buy Teslas. All it takes is for someone to test-drive their neighbor’s Tesla and they’re hooked. The product sells itself. But if you read the news, it’s always filled with misinformation about Elon and Tesla. I actually created the EVANNEX blog to help tell the real story behind Tesla and this amazing group of owners and supporters. I just wish I could write as well as you!
6. Clearly, you know what EV Annex products are most popular with customers, but what are your three favorite EV Annex products?
My wife and I both drive Teslas but we live in a small townhouse with no access to a garage and we have to park outside. So I love our custom-designed car cover because it allows you to protect the exterior and still charge at the same time. With summer being so hot down here in Florida, I love our Frunk Cooler. I’m also loving our newest product, the Trunk Cargo Net, which helps keep groceries and bags from fall over and rolling around in the trunk.
7. What EV Annex products are most popular with customers? 😉
Our all-weather floor mats have always been great to protect against snow, sand, dirt, and spills. Also our road trip charging kit is a must-have for those that need to charge at a guest’s house, RV park, or other uncommon spots. Also, charging etiquette is becoming a big thing as EVs get more common. So our charging courtesy notices are really popular too.
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