Tesla is trying to force a customer to pay a $4,500 ransom after the company software locked 80 miles of range in his car’s battery pack. The automaker only started to abandon its strategy of extracting $4,500 from customers after an uproar on social media.
Tesla used to sell the Model S with a software-locked battery pack. Such as Electrek’s Seth Weintraub’s first Tesla was the Model S 40, which was actually a Model S with a 60kWh battery pack locked in the 40kWh range by software. It’s a way to offer different range options without having to complicate production with different battery pack sizes.
Later, Tesla began offering owners of these software-locked vehicles the option to unlock the capacity for an additional fee. Tesla has phased out the practice over the years, but the company still uses software-locked packs for warranty replacements for certain capacities that are no longer in production.
Just want to pull this out of the noise and note that Tesla is working on a solution to this mess for our mutual customer. 🙂 https://t.co/rnYQRBBHLm
— Jason Hughes (@wk057) July 26, 2022
This creates a situation for customers that Tesla has completely mishandled. Jason Hughes – a Tesla hacker – revealed the situation after trying to help a customer who bought a used Model S 90. The vehicle in question here was a Model S 60.
Tesla really fires me up sometimes.😡🧵
I have a customer who’s the ~3rd owner of a 2013 Model S 60.
At some point years ago the battery pack was swapped under warranty with a 90 pack. It wasn’t software limited. It was effectively made into a 90 by Tesla.
Years went by.
— Jason Hughes (@wk057) July 25, 2022
The customer is understood to have gone to a Tesla service center to perform a computer upgrade so that his vehicle could remain connected to the internet — older Tesla vehicles only had 3G connections that were about to disappear. After Tesla’s visit, he got a call from the automaker telling him they had found a bug in his vehicle’s configuration and that they would push a “fix” to his car.
The “fix” restored his configuration to a Model S 60 and locked in about 80 miles of range from his battery pack. The customer tried to explain the situation to Tesla and have them re-enable the feature because he bought a Model S 90, so he paid for the feature, but Tesla told him he had to pay $4,500 to unlock the feature Function.
At this point, the client found Hughes. Hughes is known to be able to enable the software locking feature inside Tesla cars. However, he could not get a solution that would not cause other problems. Instead, he took the issue to social media. Tesla reportedly only reached out to customers after the topic got out and said they would “take care of it right away.” It sounds like Tesla will restore capacity to a 90kWh battery pack for this customer.