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Tesla introduced a lot of new tech into the automotive world in just a short time. The company is credited with mainstreaming EVs, pioneering over-the-air updates, and introducing great features like sentry mode. One feature that has put Tesla in the news is its smartphone app. Unfortunately, though the app is typically quite handy, one owner discovered a potential security concern.

How does the Tesla app work?

The Tesla app acts as an extension of the center control screen. This means some of the features controlled through the touchscreen can be controlled using the app as a proxy. That said, what you can manage through the app is limited. According to the Tesla owner’s manual, the app can be used to operate climate functions, locate and track the car, lock/unlock the vehicle, enable/disable sentry mode, and even summon the car. Owners can do even more than that with the app, but those are the most commonly used functions.

The app should work as long as you have internet access through data or Wi-Fi and remember to charge your phone. Tesla owners also receive a traditional key fob and a key card that communicates via RFID (short-range radio-frequency identification) signals as a backup to the app and the fob, per the owner’s manual.

Commanding the wrong Tesla Model 3

The Tesla app, signified by the automaker's logo on a smartphone screen, with a car dashboard behind it
The Tesla smartphone app | Alvin Chan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Rajesh Randev, a Vancouver man, got into a nearly identical Tesla to his own, opened the door, and drove off using his Tesla phone app, reports Global News. Randev was rushing to pick up his kids and didn’t realize he was the wrong Tesla until the owner reached out via text. Thankfully, the situation was resolved, and both parties had a good laugh about what had happened.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a widespread concern. Instead, this particular instance represents the imperfect nature of any phone-based key. That said, it is concerning that the owner of a different Tesla could operate another vehicle without any hiccups. Randev contacted Tesla with the video evidence but has received no response. Global News also reached out, but Tesla has thus far remained silent. 

Tesla has four models available for purchase

If you are in the market for a Tesla, they have two sedans and two crossover SUVs. The Model S and the Model X share the same underpinnings, and the Model 3 and Model Y do as well. The well-known Model S starts at a hair under $90,000 and has a dual-motor AWD setup suitable for a 3.1 second 0-60 mph run and an astonishing 405 miles of range. The Model X crossover is a bit more expensive, has more space, and is heavier. The base dual-motor AWD still manages a 3.8-second sprint to 60 mph and a 351-mile range. The Model X starts at $99,990. 

The Model 3 RWD starts at $42,990, has a 272-mile range, and though it doesn’t have the break-neck speed of the Model S, it still hits 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The Model Y has no RWD variant available, so the bottom-of-range dual-motor AWD version costs $53,990. The base Model Y has 330 miles of range and a 4.8 second 0-60 mph time. Tesla has performance variants for each model, including the famous Plaid and Model 3/Model Y Performance variants.

Related Only 1 Tesla Model Made the IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick List

Only 1 Tesla Model Made the IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick List