Earlier this week, Tesla remotely upgraded select Florida Tesla owners’ cars to expand their mileage capacity in an effort to ease and assist with Hurricane Irma evacuation efforts. The move was praiseworthy and appropriate, but at the root of the gesture lies a terrifying prospect of our automotive future.
Tesla briefly sold a 60 and 60D trim level of its Model S and Model X vehicles. These models had 75 kWh battery packs installed, but were software limited to have less range to artificially create a more affordable entry-level tier for buyers. Buyers still had the option to upgrade to the full capacity for a charge if they changed their minds, and Tesla would “unlock” the capability via an over-the-air software update.
With category four Hurricane Irma headed straight for Florida, Tesla unlocked the full capacity of 60 and 60D model owners in Florida to give them about a 30 mile range boost while evacuating. It was genuinely helpful and an extremely savvy public relations move for the company.
But what it also previewed is our imminent future of unprecedented corporate control over how we drive and what we drive. I briefly mentioned it in the article yesterday, but it’s not hard to imagine a worst case scenario where a company or corporation becomes a critical decision maker in disaster scenarios, like with Hurricane Irma, out of consumer and government control in a critical moment.
To read more of the original article, go to Jalopnik