In a press conference held March 19, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk came through on his promise to address the issue of "range anxiety," which is the concern of electric vehicle owners that their cars will not be able to complete their trip due to running out of power.
Musk said that the issue will be addressed by the upcoming over-the-air update to the company's software for its electric vehicles.
Tesla's version 6.2 software, which will be rolled out within March to all the Model S sedans that are out on the road, will not increase the range of the electric vehicles. Instead, the update will provide the drivers of the Model S cars with "peace of mind," according to Musk.
The update introduces the new Range Assurance feature to the system of the Model S. The feature constantly monitors the distance of the driver to a Tesla charging station, excluding stations that are already being used. When the drivers are entering the risk of running out of battery if they remain on their current route, the vehicle's software will issue a warning and ask them if they are still continuing with their route.
According to Musk, the driver will have to say "Yes, I'm sure" two times to continue with their trip, which means that the Model S will only run out of power only if the driver did it intentionally.
"You've got intelligent charging stations and intelligent cars communicating in a big network," said Musk in a conference call. "That's never existed before."
Solving range anxiety is one of the major challenges to having more people purchase electric vehicles. Tesla, for its part, has done a lot to make it easy for customers to transition into gas-free vehicles.
Tesla has built a network of 403 charging stations, featuring a total of over 2,200 units of Superchargers to refill the batteries of Model S cars. In addition, the company is also trying out battery swapping stations within California, which gives drivers the choice of a recharge for 30 minutes or a completely new battery through a process that takes no more than 3 minutes.
The new update to include the Range Assurance feature in the Model S is not the first time that the company will roll out updates through the cellular data connection of the electric car. According to Musk, this kind of update for the Model S is due to the electric vehicle's design as a "computer on wheels," allowing the company to look at updating the software of the car similar to how consumers look at updating the operating system of their smartphones.