2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Street Legal

April 16, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

With a car this expensive and this beautiful we couldn't bring ourselves to drill holes in the front bumper for the license plate bracket. So we called the Tesla service center in Los Angeles and asked if they could do it. The cheerful receptionist checked with the techs and said to just stop by any old time.

The service center is only accessible down a tight alley so we just parked at a meter and waltzed into the service center unannounced.

The service bay was jammed with Model S's being prepped for delivery. But they honored our request and a tech named Juan came out to the curb to do the job. There were three indentations in the front bumper, to align the frame with the bumper. We averted our eyes as Juan drilled out the depressions. He then carefully mounted the bracket and the license plate.

The holes and plastic inserts were already in place for the rear plate. We were hoping for something more substantial, like a nice Tesla frame. Juan searched around for the frames but the other techs told him the frames are only available at the factory.

We chatted as Juan worked. His admiration for the car was evident. "You know the thing I like about it," he said. "They put the battery on the bottom and totally slammed the car to the ground. That's why the handling is so awesome."

Juan installed the bracket and plates before the 30 minutes were up on the parking meter. It was a good visit with a lot of helpful and friendly folks.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,220 miles


  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Three years in and so far I still haven't been busted for no front plates on my Miata. I'm thinking of giving in and getting it installed before it is a problem, but I like having one little gesture of sticking it to the California Man. Take that Governor Moonbeam!

  • schen72 schen72 Posts:

    I don't have a front plate on either of my cars. Never been busted for it. Even if I do get busted, it's just a few bucks, so who cares.

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    "The service center is only accessible down a tight alley.." Are they trying to discourage owners from coming in for service? That seems like a poorly planned location.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I'd imagine if you were to ask Tesla about cars coming in for service they'd insist, in a shrieking, paranoid voice, that no Tesla ever needed service and such rumors are a deliberate attempt to take them down.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Just make sure the front plate mount doesn't block to tow hook cover.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @fordson1 "Just make sure the front plate mount doesn't block to tow hook cover." ROFLMAO!! Man, that's cold.:)

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    You could probably find some very nice aftermarket license plate frames somewhere online.

  • yaymx5_ yaymx5_ Posts:

    @fordson1 I've been running around with my front plate ziptied to the front of my Miata for the last couple of years. :)

  • socalrip socalrip Posts:

    When we picked up our Model S at the Hawthorne design center, the Tesla delivery specialist suggested the zip-tie approach as an alternative to drilling through the front bumper. I zip tied the frame to the lower grill section and then screwed on the license plate. Working like a champ thus far.

  • mayhemm mayhemm Posts:

    Is there a bridge in that picture? Because the trolls are out in force today...

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