I think if I had to point to one Tesla innovation that’s really changed the industry, it wouldn’t be any specific technological or marketing development, but would rather be the company’s ability to make every little mundane thing they do somehow get people worked up online. And I don’t just mean hardcore Tesla zealots, it’s also the people that interact with the Tesla people, too. There’s always something for everyone to at least get a bit worked up about, even regarding something as innocuous as adding a feature that’s pretty common today. I guess let’s take a look at this, because whatever the hell is going on here, it’s a significant part of car culture, and one day they’ll need things like this for all those documentaries and TED talks or whatever. The feature is a basic blind spot warning light.
You know what these things are: if blind spot monitors were a human, they’d be old enough to vote by now. First introduced by Volvo in 2003, these are sensors that, usually triggered by the activation of the turn signal, check your blind spot with cameras or sensors, and if it detects an object in there – usually another car, but I’m sure a yak or something would activate it as well – it warns you, usually with a small light by the side mirror, where you should be looking anyway.
Here’s a video of one of Volvo’s systems from about a decade ago:
You get it. Of course you do. These are great features, but hardly pants-wettingly novel today. It’s been known for a few months now that Tesla’s refresh of their bestselling Model 3, code-named Highland, would include this feature. Hell, it’s even in the owner’s manual, which has been available online for months:
So, the tech isn’t innovative, really, but that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to have, certainly. It’s great! On pretty much any other car that introduced a feature like this, this would be in the middle of a list of improvements in some press release and would probably be copy/pasted into some articles about the refreshed car, and we’d all read it and note it and nod sagely and turn to our valets and say, yes, Clamothrace, that’s a worthwhile addition, but if he wanted out of his time-out kennel then it’s still too bad, he has 45 more minutes in the box, and he knows why.
But this isn’t just any car! It’s Tesla, so we get tweets like these:
Blind-spot LED added to the new Model 3. What do you think of it? pic.twitter.com/5oKh0MIK1Q
— Enhance – S3XY Buttons (@enhauto) October 29, 2023
Short video I took yesterday at the presentation of the @tesla model 3 refresh/Highland in The Netherlands.
Focus on the front cabin, ambient lighting, blind spot indicator, great finish of the interior, lights on the roof and speaker on the roof.
The sound system is superior… pic.twitter.com/8Ug1YOEkTs
— Esther Kokkelmans (@EstherKokkelman) September 12, 2023
And some managed to get a surprising number of responses and engagement:
Blind spot indicator in action in the Model 3 highland! When you put on the turn signal it will blink if there’s a car in the way pic.twitter.com/xRbkEKzA9p
— Brandon (@teslaflexx) October 28, 2023
Okay, a few things: first, why is that light so tiny? Is that just one lone little bare LED that doesn’t even light up some plastic lens? And the text of the tweet does at least feel like this person is a bit wowed, even if they don’t come out and just say it: “Blind spot indicator in action in the Model 3 highland! When you put on the turn signal it will blink if there’s a car in the way” and that does sound like someone both excited and assuming this is a new feature in the world, based on the little explanation.
Again, maybe that wasn’t the intent, but the people that like to tweak Tesla people sure took it that way:
I mean why is it needed? There is a complete image of everything around you on the screen.
— Travisimo✌️ (@Sw0rdf1sh) October 29, 2023
Every day I see more evidence how many ppl are unaware of the history of topics in which they claim expertise.
Tesla is at the cutting edge of car tech…
But Blind Spot Monitoring has been on other cars for 20 years. pic.twitter.com/e1xsf4XzwK
— Alex Roy (@AlexRoy144) October 29, 2023
Again, Alex is a friend and someone I respect and he’s not wrong! This tech has been around a while. So why are we making a big deal out of it? Because someone else made a big deal about it, and now others make a big deal out of the big deal that was made. It’s like an ouroboros of annoying trivial bullshit, and here we are! Because this is Tesla, and I get sucked in, too, because culturally, this shit is weird.
A feature addition like this should barely make any kind of waves at all. Twitter or X wasn’t around when Volvo first released the feature, but if it was, would the introduction of this be met with anything other than people saying “hey that’s cool” and “that’s a nice safety innovation?” And then everyone would shake hands and get a snack and go to sleep.
But that’s not the world we live in now! Now we live in this weird-ass world where Tesla people talk about a new feature and it seems like they’re being weird and blind to the rest of the world until they get called out about it by other people and then you start to think, wait, maybe this is too far? and then later there’s some other unhinged Tesla shit and the cycle begins anew.
There’s something bigger going on here. I’m going to keep documenting and talking about it until I wrap my head around just what that is, or, more likely, my head gets wrapped around something else by a mob of annoyed readers.
Either way, you win? Kinda!