Tesla has remotely activated additional battery capacity for some Tesla electric vehicle models, to help ensure owners who may need to evacuate quickly due to the threat of bush fires in NSW and Queensland have enough range to make it to safety.
Tesla has issued a temporary software update to vehicle owners in regions of NSW and Queensland currently impacted by bush fires. It extends the available battery capacity in some models that otherwise have that capacity locked by the vehicle’s software.
Tesla confirmed with The Driven that the software update would allow owners of models that include the Tesla S 60 and 60D, which come installed with a 75kWh battery, but that is limited by software that makes only 60kWh available, to draw upon the extra capacity.
By tapping into the extra 15kWh of battery storage, drivers may gain up to an additional 80km of range. It will not apply to Model 3, which are not software limited.
Vehicles in bushfire affected areas will receive a notification when the additional capacity has been activated and will receive a subsequent notification confirming when the temporary range extension has been deactivated.
Great initiative by @Tesla to support Australians caught in the current #bushfire crisis. Thanks @elonmusk! What other car company could/would do this?! #ElectricVehicles support #ClimateResilience while delivering #ClimateActionNow pic.twitter.com/GxJ7bwIe39
— Dr Jake Whitehead (@DrJakeW) November 12, 2019
“We are temporarily enabling your car to access additional battery capacity, in preparation for NSW and QLD bushfires,” the notification received by vehicle owners said.
“We hope this gives you the peace of mind to get to a safe location, and will notify you before returning you care to its original configuration. Badging on your display may adjust during this period. Safe Travels!”.
Tesla has included the same battery configuration in both its 60kWh and 75kWh battery configurations in its Model S and Model X vehicles. Tesla charges an additional premium to unlock the full battery capacity of the vehicles.
Tesla has activated the same feature in US vehicles during hurricane events, including activating the additional capacity in vehicles located in Florida when the state was impacted by Hurricane Irma last year.
Tesla developed the ability to temporarily extend the battery range of some vehicles in emergency situations after a US-based owner asked the company for assistance when they needed the extra range to successfully evacuate from a region impacted by Hurricanes.
Last year, Tesla activated a similar feature in the company’s Powerwall 2 battery systems in Queensland in regions impacted by cyclones. The ‘Storm Watch’ feature in the battery systems preemptively charges the batteries to 100%, to ensure homes have access to a supply of power in the result of a blackout.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.