A new update alert about a "potential risk of damage or downtime" when using third party modules
Tesla does not intend to allow owners to continue to use third-party modules on its electric vehicles. To that end, the U.S. automaker has begun to make it difficult for some of its customers who may be tempted to use cheaper third-party services to improve the performance of their vehicles, instead of purchasing vehicle features directly from the manufacturer, Electrek reported. For several years now, Tesla has begun selling vehicles with software-locked upgrade capabilities to entice customers to use the additional capabilities sold separately.
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Some owners, who use the Boost50 module, have already noticed when they last updated their Tesla Model 3 software. They received a warning message that displayed "incompatible vehicle modification detected" and "potential risk of damage or shutdown" on the screen. Produced by the Canadian company Ingenext, Boost50 is a module that increases the performance of the Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor.
Connected to the vehicle via the MCU card, the device reduces the acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h to 3.8 seconds, compared to 4.4 seconds previously. Since Tesla began releasing these paid-for features, people have speculated that some hackers might unlock them without paying for them. Now, not only has that happened, but it has become a real business.
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Guillaume André, the founder of Ingenext, did it. His team was able to unlock the 50 hp that Tesla sells for $2,000 in its "Acceleration Boost" feature or even transform it into a more powerful Model 3, according to an article published by Electrek last June. Ingenext sells its module on its website. Boost50 also includes other features such as "Drift Mode" - a special driving mode that disables traction control but maintains ABS and power steering.
After upgrading their vehicle to version 2020.32.2 of Tesla's software, Boost50 buyers noticed the warning message and shared the screen on a social news community website to report that the automaker was thwarting the Ingenext feature. The warning message apparently remains stuck on the screen, however, does not appear to interfere with driving.
The official $2,000 "Acceleration Boost" feature of the Tesla Model 3 Dual was launched in December last year. It reduces the acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h to 3.9 seconds (0.1 second longer than Ingenext). Ingenext's Boost50 module, on the other hand, is priced at $1,433. So it's easy to see why this offer might be of interest to some Tesla owners.
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André told Electrek that they sent a notification to customers warning them not to update, and that only three customers updated their cars before seeing the update. His team would be working on their own patch to allow their customers to update without problems. According to André, it would take "one or two weeks" to get the patch, Electrek reported. In addition, Ingenext has a dedicated page to let customers know if it is safe to use Boost50 on various Tesla updates. The page currently recommends waiting for confirmation that the 2020.32.2 update is safe before installing the module.
Return to official features or opt for cheaper third-party modules
Those who continue with the "unofficial" module will do so at their own risk. It is likely that every time the software is updated, Tesla will attempt to correct piracy and disable third party features to encourage owners to adopt the car manufacturer's products. However, it is only a matter of time before Ingenext technicians will figure out how to counter the update with their own patch.
It remains to be seen whether customers will continue to opt for cheaper, but slightly less reliable modules provided by third parties, or whether they will choose to purchase the more expensive features officially offered by Tesla with each software update.
Acceleration is not the only service Tesla offers as a paid option. The company also offers Full Self-Driving Capability (FSD), whose price rose from $7,000 to $8,000 last July, a price that, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is expected to continue to increase as the software moves closer to full self-driving capability. Tesla has also recently proposed a software update that helps drivers pass stop signs and traffic lights.
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Tesla is not the only automaker considering adding additional functionality to vehicles in the form of software services that customers could pay to activate. BMW recently announced a similar offer, with options such as cruise control, automatic headlights and even heated seats to be paid for as separate features, in addition to the car itself.
BMW's system is subscription-based, meaning customers will pay a subscription fee for different options - so, for example, their car could be equipped with heated seats only when needed during the winter months, Auto Blog reported in a July post. Similarly, Musk recently confirmed that Autopilot will eventually be offered as a subscription.
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This concept of "vehicle as platform" has been met with mixed feelings, with customers complaining that they now have to pay for basic services that should be enabled by default. Last year, for example, BMW began charging for time-limited access to Apple's CarPlay. After 12 months of free access, the company introduced a $100 annual subscription to allow customers to sync their iPhone with CarPlay, before quickly abandoning the program in the face of negative customer reaction.