Hurricane Irma is making its way up the Florida coast. Before its arrival, evacuees lined the state’s highways trying to get out of the way before the storm hit. There were issues with gas stations running dry, but those with electric cars had different concerns. Tesla decided to help by temporarily unlocking the full battery pack capacity of its 60kWh vehicles. Owners woke up to a surprise 75kWh capacity giving them more flexibility on the trek north.
Tesla choosing to give customers in the area additional range as a way of helping during the evacuation process is great. They didn’t have to do it. They didn’t charge customers to do it. They just did it to help people during a national disaster. That’s a nice bit of corporate citizenship.
According to Tesla, they initially received a request from an owner in the mandatory evacuation zone who needed extra range to use the best evacuation route possible. They decided to temporarily extend the range of this customer’s car without charging the upgrade fee. That fee runs $4,500 to $9,000 depending on your car so it’s an expense many couldn’t afford, especially on short notice while trying to evacuate.
Someone at Tesla thought about this for a second and decided there might be other Tesla owners in the same situation, but who weren’t calling to ask for help. That’s when Tesla decided to unlock the extra range in all vehicles within the evacuation zone. Some people may not even have noticed, but the extra range was available to them just the same.
So often the focus on our increasingly connected cars are the problems with the technologies and the potential for abuse. We worry about people gaining access to our cars remotely and either stealing them or messing around with the car’s systems and causing an accident. That’s scary stuff and there’s certainly the potential for those sorts of situations.
On the flip side, however, that connectivity gives companies like Tesla the ability to immediately access your car and provide help in an emergency. There’s no telling how many people benefited from the extra range they suddenly found in their cars while fleeing Irma. Your connected car may on occasion give you cause to worry, but the news definitely isn’t all bad.