Last weekend Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla was about to “end range anxiety” with an announcement this Thursday, and as speculated, the fix was an update to the navigation system that basically makes it idiot proof. In Musk’s own words, “It’s impossible to run out unless you do so intentionally.”
So how’s it all work? Three words; data, data, data. The firmware 6.2 update adds the new “Trip Planner” that provides up-to-date info on the nearest of over 2,000 Tesla Supercharger and thousands more destination charger locations. This ensures the driver is always within range of a charging station, and if you try to plan a trip outside of the available driving range, the car will ask you if you’re sure not once, but twice. Musk wasn’t kidding when he said you’d have to intentionally try to run the Model S out of juice.
Of course as any EV owner will tell you, there are other factors that can affect range, and Tesla has taken those into account too. The range assurance software will track changes in elevation and headwinds, traffic conditions, air conditioning use, as well as the closest charging locations to provide the most accurate picture of the available driving range. But that’s not the only update to the software of the Model S, as Tesla is also adding Range Assurance to the mix. This program plots the optimal route based on charging locations and ensures that you’re staying within the range offered by your Model S.
Does this firmware update really end range anxiety? In a sense, though not in the same way 5-minute charging or even battery swaps might. It’s a good band-aid for a big problem facing electric cars, but this could also be classified as more Musk hyperbole.
A welcome improvement? Sure. Does it make ICE cars totally obsolete? Not even close. It is, however, an excellent model for other automakers to follow.