Tesla attempted to force a customer to pay a $4,500 ransom over an 80-mile range that the company had software locked into its battery pack. The automaker only began to backtrack on its strategy of squeezing $4,500 from its customers after a social media uproar.
Tesla sold Model S vehicles with software-locked battery packs. For example, ElectrekSeth Weintraub’s first Tesla was a Model S 40, which was actually a Model S with a 60 kWh battery pack software locked to a capacity of 40 kWh.
This was a way to offer different range options without complicating production with different battery pack sizes.
Later, Tesla began offering owners of those software-locked vehicles the option to unlock the capacity at an additional cost. Tesla has phased out the practice over the years, but the company still used software-locked battery packs when replacing under warranty battery packs of certain capacities that it no longer manufactures.
This has created a situation for a customer who has completely mishandled Tesla.
Jason Hughes, a notorious Tesla hacker, revealed the situation after trying to help the customer who bought a used Model S 90 that used to be a Model S 60:
The customer went to a Tesla service center to get a computer upgrade so his vehicle can stay connected to the internet – older Tesla vehicles only had 3G connectivity, and that’s going to go away. After the Tesla visit, he received a call from the automaker telling him that they found a flaw in his vehicle configuration and that they would push a “repair” for his car.
The “fix” reverted its configuration to a Model S 60, cutting off about 80 miles of range from its battery pack. The customer tried to explain the situation to Tesla and give them the option to re-enable the option, which he had paid for since purchasing the car as a Model S 90, but Tesla told him he would have to pay $4,500 to enable the option. unlock:
Then the customer came to Hughes, who is known to be able to enable software-locked features in Tesla vehicles. However, he couldn’t find a solution that wouldn’t cause other problems.
Instead, he took the issue to social media and his thread about the situation went viral.
It wasn’t until after the thread went viral that Tesla reportedly contacted the customer to say they’d “take care of it right away”:
It sounds like Tesla is going to roll back the capacity to a 90 kWh customer battery pack.
This is wild. Now I understand that mistakes are made. And I can really see that if this car got on Tesla’s radar and a tech saw that it should have been configured as a Model S 60, maybe they’d try to flip it.
What is unforgivable, however, is that when the customer contacted Tesla to explain the situation to them – that he is the third owner of the vehicle and bought it as a Model S 90 with clear evidence – they demanded an additional $4,500 to give him what he had already paid for.
Tesla made $2 billion last quarter. There is no reason to try to extort $4,500 from a customer who has done nothing wrong. The story went viral for Tesla to address the situation.
I think Tesla is a great company that does great things, but sometimes things go so wrong it’s hard to understand.
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