Tesla remotely extends the range of some cars to help with Irma

Tesla Model S and Model X

What can be limited electronically can be unlimited electronically, and that's just what Tesla did to help owners of its cars as Hurricane Irma approached them.

Over the weekend Tesla began pushing a software update to certain Model S and Model X vehicles to increase battery capacity, in the hope that extended vehicle range might help customers fleeing Hurricane Irma and successive storms in Florida. For those unfamiliar, Tesla used to offer customers the option to buy a vehicle with a 75 kWh battery pack that was software locked.

Considering the 15 kWh (30 to 40 additional miles) could also be useful to other owners affected by Irma, Tesla made a decision to also temporarily unlock other vehicles with the same software-lock battery packs in the region. They point out one downside to driving electric: with less widespread infrastructure, Tesla drivers could be more likely to see crucial superchargers offline or overcrowded during emergencies.

Alas, the upgrade won't stick around forever - Tesla generally charges at least $5,000 for the permanent equivalent.

Tesla Model X
Helping drivers flee Irma, Tesla reportedly issues remote upgrade to boost battery power

In a letter to Florida Tesla owners, Tesla confirmed it had issued the temporary battery update, which will run until September 16. However, some of those vehicles are obviously still on the road, and Tesla certainly did the right thing by maxing out their range in Florida.

It might seem unusual that Tesla is able to upgrade the capabilities of its vehicles via software update. But for Tesla, managing variations using software makes sense, given that the company sells only three vehicles now.

The hurricane had previously killed 23 people and devastated a series of Caribbean islands.

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