Tesla owners on the Tesla Motors Club forums recently shared that Tesla has issued an emergency firmware update for owners in the path of Hurricane Irma. The update unlocks the additional battery capacity for owners of vehicles with software-limited battery capacity — like Model S and X vehicles with “60 kWh” of capacity that actually have 75 kWh batteries installed.
Teslarati reached out to Tesla for comment on the matter and confirmed that the update was actually pushed out for this reason, specifically for owners in hurricane-affected areas. Contrast this with owners of traditional internal combustion vehicles who have been slogging through lines at the gas pump for nearly a week to top up, with more than 40% of the gas stations in southern Florida being completely sold out of gas as drivers fueled up before evacuating.
The firmware update from Tesla increases the range of the vehicles from 210 miles per charge up to 249 miles, which allows owners to drive that much further out of the storm area. Stories of flooded Teslas in the greater Houston area surfaced after the storm surge from Hurricane Harvey swamped the area (with up to 9 feet of water in coastal areas). With Harvey still in recent memory, many owners in the path of Hurricane Irma, which includes most of Southwestern Florida, drove out of the area when the first evacuation recommendations were announced.
Not surprisingly, the increased range is not permanent. As in Cinderella, the magic will come to an end. In this case, the clock strikes midnight for the increased battery capacity on September 16th, at which point the extra range will be removed. This is yet another example of how Tesla is always on the lookout for innovative ways to be the best company it can be. I would even bet that some of the owners would pay for the upgrade after the hurricane passes as a way of saying thanks.