Tesla glamping? How to convert your Model S into a 5-star tent

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A subculture of Tesla Model S drivers is discovering the joys, and tribulations, of converting their $US145,000 Model S into a very fancy tent.

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One Step Off The Grid

A subset of Tesla Model S drivers has found a novel way to get yet more mileage out of their prestige electric vehicles – by converting them into “a 21st Century tent” for camping under the stars.

The practice, which is not officially – nor otherwise – sanctioned by Tesla, appears nonetheless to be a thing, documented in detail in this piece by Bloomberg’s Tom Randall, as well as on online forums and YouTube videos by the broader Tesla community.

tesla glamping

“As the sun set beyond the long-needle pines and emerald waters of Lake Tahoe, I looked across the campfire and laughed out loud. I was about to go ‘camping’ in the back of a $US145,000 electric car,” waxes Randall….

But as the story goes on, it becomes apparent this practice requires some research and commitment and a level of ingenuity – or hacking – on the part of the camper/driver.

First, the Model S rear seats don’t fold completely flat – an comfort problem Randall works around using folded cardboard and a blow-up mattress.

Another potential issue is that measures need to be taken to stop the car from shutting down, as it does automatically when no one is in the driver’s seat.

But in the end, Randall manages to find a way to keep the car in “Camp Mode”, with the air con and filtering systems running while he slept; and all only using about 7 per cent of the car’s battery power.

The upsides? Well, the car will have minimal impact on the environment you chose to camp in, with no noise and no tailpipe emissions, Randall says. And while the LED headlights stay on when the car’s power is on, these can be blacked out manually.

And then there’s the Model S’s panoramic glass roof, says Randall – “no tent can compete with that.”

“There’s also something romantic about the idea that you slide in to a car to enjoy the solitary pleasures of life on the road – and you need to stop only when you, or the car, need to recharge.”

Randall argues that “Camper Mode” could be “a real draw” for the Model 3 Tesla, which will, of course, be much cheaper, and whose rear seats, Tesla advises, do fold flat.

“Tesla is hoping to make at least 500,000 Model 3s  a year, beginning in 2018,” he says. “In doing so, it may open up a whole new approach to road tripping for 21st Century Jack Kerouacs.”

For Randall’s step-by-step guide to Model S camping, read the article. And if there are any Australian Tesla Campers out there, drop us a line about your experiences.


This article was originally published on RE sister site One Step Off The Grid. To sign up for the weekly newsletter, click here.

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4 Comments
  1. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    This could make a long haul share-driving experience from Brisbane to Perth much more comfortable. One sits in the driver seat and one sleeps. Still haven’t worked out all the charging points though.

    • handbaskets'r'us 3 years ago

      Chris, there’s a website called ‘plugshare.com’ that lists charging points, private and public Oz-wide, -also the amperage and plug type. Tesla owners have already done Perth to Brisbane return and Perth to Broome, to fly the flag and encourage charge facilities. The rollout is pretty dramatic as destinations and servo’s jump on board.
      I was totally amazed at the room in back of a car that doesn’t really look like a ‘station wagon’.
      Also, while other cars rust and date, my model S is constantly updated, -sometimes the updates are profound.
      For anyone considering purchasing a Tesla -not an investment you could ever regret!

  2. Bruce 3 years ago

    I used ‘Camp Mode’ last Christmas when the family went camping in the Grampians, (Rocklands). I had the Tesla already setup with air mattress and some foam rubber to level the floor, then a lovely nights sleep with the air-con keeping the Tesla at 21deg C. I was ready in minutes as the rest of the family setup their tents and bedding.

  3. Daniel 3 years ago

    Fossil fuel replaced by green narcissism. Image combined with green cred, driving on streets and hanging on walls

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