When Elon Musk tweets, many more than his 1.79 million followers are listening, so the founder of Tesla got plenty of headlines when he took to Twitter on the Ides of March.
Tesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety … via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2015
By March 19, EV enthusiasts were not dancing in the streets because range anxiety had died. To Tesla’s credit, Musk did announce a two-part software update that will help Model S drivers monitor range more effectively while on the road. Unfortunately, you still have to plug in your car and wait for it to charge when you run out of battery power.
Trip Planner and Range Assurance
The two-pronged assault on drivers’ range anxiety consists of Trip Planner and Range Assurance, both of which will be delivered as over-the-air (OTA) updates for Model S owners.
New Software Update: Trip Planner & Range Assurance expand Model S intelligence to give drivers peace of mind and eliminate range anxiety.
— Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) March 19, 2015
According to Road and Track, Range Assurance operates behind the scenes in the cars’ navigation systems, even when drivers are not getting turn-by-turn directions. Drivers see Superchargers along the way, as well as chargers at parking spots at or near their destinations. Meanwhile, they hear when they are in need of a charge and how to access the most convenient charge option on the road. Everything from elevation, weather conditions, and a lead foot on the accelerator is taken into account.
Trip Planner, the second element of the update, shows Model S drivers the best way to maximize range and where to charge an EV on the road. It also estimates the amount of time you need to charge. If drivers only need an extra 15 miles of range, then a bathroom break may be all that is necessary to continue with enough battery. Musk mentioned that driving more than three hours without stopping is a bit of a tall order “unless you want to wear a diaper,” which makes life in this EV hardly different from driving a gas car.
Lingering range anxiety
Until the question of range stops popping up in auto consumers’ minds, EVs will remain a niche transportation segment. We know they are greener by a mile than combustion engines and can help wean the U.S. off foreign oil, but practical concerns about electric vehicles rightfully haunt drivers in 2015.
Musk addressed most of these concerns when he designed the Tesla Model S, an electric sedan with the longest range available (270 miles or so, depending on the trim level) and performance that’s better than most everything on four wheels. The only problem is getting your hands on a Tesla, most of which cost around six figures by the time they are delivered.
For those who can afford a Model S, Tesla offers the most complete package of any electric vehicle on the market. Musk did not end range anxiety for the world on March 19, but Tesla made its high-priced, high-performance cars even more useful for their owners. As competition for Tesla mobilizes, these improvements will help keep the Model S above the fray.
News source: Road and Track