South Florida-based EVannex represents a classic all-American tech startup story. Founder Roger Pressman is an engineer who’s been fascinated by EVs since the bad old days of GM’s EV1. When he saw a Tesla Model S alpha prototype in early 2011, it was love at first sight. He bought a Model S Signature Series (a loaded, limited-edition series consisting of the first thousand vehicles that were delivered), and became active in the Tesla community.
While the car was still in the beta stage, Roger noticed the curious lack of a center console, and designed his own. Online buddies soon started asking to buy one for their Teslas, and you can guess what happened next. Sons Matt and Mike soon joined him to form a family business.
Today EVannex (which stands for “electric vehicle annex”) sells a huge range of aftermarket Tesla accessories, from wheels to charging adapters to floor mats to lighting kits to appliqués that will change your chrome to a carbon fiber finish (or vice versa). Some of these, including the now-famous center consoles, the company builds at its “mini-Gigafactory” in an industrial neighborhood of Deerfield Beach. EVannex also distributes other products that it sources from manufacturers around the world.
The Pressmans own a fleet of Teslas: their venerable Signature Model S, a Model X, and now a loaded Model 3. These serve as test beds for the latest and greatest electro-automotive gadgets. Each vehicle is a glorious clutter of flashy design elements (the lighted Tesla T is a popular item) and handy little storage features.
Third-party accessories (at least, the practical kind) tend to be invented because of the lack of some useful feature. Sometimes, Tesla seems to notice when a product has become popular in the aftermarket, and later adds it as a standard or optional feature (as eventually happened with the center consoles). This friendly arms race is reminiscent of the earlier days of Windows, when software startups would carve out a business selling a handy little app, only to see Microsoft incorporate a similar feature into the next version of the operating system.
The Pressmans were able to examine a Model 3 quite early in the game, and got busy with their cameras and tape measures, so they could start designing products for the new model. Now that they have their own 3, the process of developing new goodies is in high gear. “Some of that stuff you can only design when you have the car in front of you,” Roger explained. EVannex is already selling a few Model 3-specific items, but there’s still work to do to match the company’s existing range of products for the S and X.
On my recent visit, I saw a couple of new goodies in development that I’m not allowed to write about – I’ll only say that one of them could be a big hit, as it addresses a certain communications feature that several drivers have already noted is missing from the 3.