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Tesla’s Over-the-air updates are a cool bit of futuristic tech that is a little hard to believe even exists. But it does, and it quickly went from fun and exciting to a pain in the neck for one Tesla Model S owner. Tesla remotely removed miles off the range from a customer’s car and then demanded $4,500 to restore it. 

The Tesla Model S tops KBB's list of the cheapest high-end luxury cars to own.
Tesla Model S | Tesla

Can Tesla limit your car’s range remotely? 

It sure can and recently did to one unlucky customer. According to CarScoops, Tesla is within its rights to remove subscription software features before selling them as a used vehicles. However, it is less common for Tesla to limit the range of an existing customer’s car. 

Jason Hughes, the owner of a Tesla component business, brought this story to Twitter, and then the internet sunk its teeth in deep. 

Why did Tesla Mess with his car? 

Teslas to be exported
Luchao Port, China Teslas to be exported | via YouTube

The customer is the third owner of a used 2013 Model S 60, which, as the model name suggests, was originally sold with a 60 kWh battery. According to CarScoops, the Model S’s first owner had Tesla swap out the battery for a 90 kWh capacity pack under warranty and made the necessary updates allowing the car to use its new-found potential. 

Over the years, the car changed hands a few times before the current owner bought it. He took it in for an unrelated software upgrade that would allow keeping the internet as 3G goes away. According to Hughes, the owner drives home with no issues until, soon after, Tesla “calls him to tell him that they found and fixed a configuration mistake with his car.” 

The “mistake” Tesla referenced was it decided that the car should be limited back to its S 60 configuration and range – an 80-mile range difference – until he paid the $4,500 premium. 

Hughes detailed the whole story Monday morning on Twitter which, of course, went viral, sending a barrage of hate in Tesla’s direction. As of Wednesday, he reports that the problem has been fixed. As CarScoops points out, since Tesla has no PR department, the controversial EV company has neither confirmed nor denied the story. 

Why doesn’t Tesla have PR?

Tesla’s too-cool-for-school attitude has made the company a household name over the years. However, now that Tesla has a significant number of cars on the road, we see that simply using social media as a PR dept hasn’t been as cool as it might have seemed at first. 

Now that production is behind, and demand is up, Tesla, like many other manufacturers, is struggling to keep up. As a result, things are being rushed, mistakes are being made, sloppy cars are being delivered to customers, and things like this keep happening. 

It seems like a nearly non-stop cycle; Tesla as a company or its cars are regularly making headlines for some wacky issues, battery fires, terrible customer experience, or even another “self-Driving” car crashing and killing people. 

Maybe it’s worth reconsidering the no PR thing, Tesla.


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