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Tesla pushed an emergency over-the-air update to some cars in the southeast U.S., extending the electric cars range to help owners evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.
The company could do this because some Tesla cars are sold with battery capacity locked to a lower figure by the car’s software. For example, a Tesla Model S 60 only has access to 60kWh battery capacity, despite having a larger, 75kWh battery. Owners can pay for an upgrade, which can cost as much as $9,000, but Tesla offered the upgrade for free to everyone in the mandatory evacuation zone.
That Tesla can update its car software on-the-fly is not news, but this is the first time the company had done so to help people in an emergency.
The upgrade, which offers roughly 30 more miles of range, can be helpful in a mass evacuation scenario. Millions of people have fled from parts of Florida in what is potentially the largest evacuation in U.S. history. Hurricane Irma, a monstrous storm that broke records for intensity and endurance, made landfall in South Florida on Sunday.