Speed Reads

The future is now

During Hurricane Irma, Tesla gave Florida drivers a free jump in battery life. Tesla can do that?

Over the weekend, with Florida authorities ordering the evacuation of large swaths of the state, Tesla sent out software updates increasing the battery life, and thus the driving range, of some Model S sedans and Model X SUVs in evacuation zones. It is a temporary gift, expiring Sept. 16, but probably welcomed at the time by those drivers who needed to get out of dodge, or Miami Beach.

It raised a lot of questions, though, like: Tesla can do that?

The answer is yes. When you buy a Tesla, you have the option to pay more to unlock certain features, like full use of its 75-kilowatt-hour battery, The Washington Post explains. All Teslas are sold with the same battery. What Elon Musk and Co. did over the weekend was a free, temporary power boost for those drivers who didn't choose to pay for the upgrade. The fact that Tesla can do this, remotely, without warning or asking permission, is something new in car ownership. It would be like if Apple updated your iPhone without you doing anything, except much bigger, the Post's Brian Fung says:

This is a paradigm shift. When you buy any other car, you get its full capabilities. In many cases, though less so now than in decades past, you can open up the hood and tinker with everything yourself. This has historically been the way we've thought about buying a car. When you roll it off the lot, you get the whole thing, and you can basically do with it whatever you want. In Tesla's case, it's not quite the same. [The Washington Post]

If Tesla drivers don't mind the new model, it may be the future for car ownership.