Tesla Extended Range Of Cars So Customers Could Escape Hurricane Irma

Image courtesy of jecoopr

As Hurricane Irma drew closer to Florida, many of those in the storm’s path just wanted to get as far away as possible. In an effort to help its customers put some distance between themselves and Irma, Tesla pushed out an update last week to its Model X and S electric vehicles, intended to squeeze more mileage out of a single charge.

Tesla confirmed to Electrek over the weekend that it provided customers in the path of Hurricane Irma with a free over-the-air update that provided certain Model S and Model X vehicles with an additional 30 to 40 miles per charge.

The update, which essentially unlocked the vehicles’ full battery capacity, came after one Tesla owner reached out to the company noting that he needed just 30 additional miles of range to make it out of a mandatory evacuation zone.

As a result, the company determined that adding range to vehicles would be beneficial to all owners, and temporarily provided the over-the-air update to all owners of Tesla’s 60D version vehicles in Florida. The upgrade will cease to operate on Sept. 16, Tesla says.

Saving Thousands

Tesla was able to provide the upgrade to owners partly due to the way in which the company sells its vehicles.

For instance, the company once sold the 60D version of its Model S and Model X cars. These versions were less expensive than others, but came with a 75 KWH battery that was capped to use only 80% of its power.

Drivers were given the option to unlock the remaining 20% of their battery’s power for an additional cost. According to Electrek, that cost could range between $4,500 and $9,000 depending on the vehicle and time of the upgrade.

Tesla has discontinued production of these versions, noting that most customers opt for longer range vehicles in the first place.

Changing The Brakes

Adding range to certain Tesla vehicles in Florida isn’t the only change the electric car company has made recently.

Our colleagues at Consumer Reports note that some recently manufactured Tesla vechiles have had their automatic electric braking (AEB) systems turned off.

A spokesperson for Tesla tells CR that the company turned off the system in all Model X, Model S, and Model 3 vehicles made since production of the new Model 3 began in July. The system was turned off in order to examine real-world data to ensure the AEB program works as extended.

According to a notice posted by a Tesla owner on Reddit, the company says the decision to disable AEB systems came after it updated some hardware in the newer vehicles.

A rep for the company confirmed this to CR, noting that the new vehicles had some minor hardware changes to the Autopilot system. As a result, the company is in the “process of robustly validating the new hardware using real-world driving data.”

“During that process, Automatic Emergency Braking will temporarily be inactive and will instead be in shadow mode, which means it will register how the feature would perform if it were activated, without taking any action. This temporary calibration period is standard Tesla protocol and is done out of an abundance of caution,” Tesla said.

Despite AEB operating in shadow mode, other features such as early collision warning and all Autopilot features remain functional.

The system is expected to be off-line for six weeks.