Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced new features for its electric cars designed to improve drivers’ “peace of mind” about running out of juice on the road, and previewed his vision of how driverless cars will work in the near future, during a press conference on Thursday.
As part of Tesla’s Version 6.2 software, the newly announced Range Assurance application always runs in the background of its electric vehicles, and will warn drivers when they travel outside the range of nearby Tesla charging stations.
“It’s basically impossible to run out [of battery power] unless you do so intentionally,” Musk said.
It also includes a trip planner program that gives drivers the optimal route to your destination, taking into account the most charging stations available along the way.
In a tweet Sunday, Musk suggested the company would end range anxiety with a software update that would be applied remotely to its Model S all-electric sedan.
Tesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety … via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet.
Electric car batteries have a limited range and can take a long time to recharge compared to refuelling a conventional car with gasoline. Because of that “range anxiety” is often considered a major reason why consumers are slow to switch to electric cars.
The battery range of Tesla’s Model S is already very high for an electric car — between 335 and 435 kilometres, depending on the model.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has also been building a network of fast chargers across North America, and is offering battery pack swaps between San Francisco and L.A., a drive of more than 600 kilometres. Musk said that “seems to be working well” but “supercharging is the future, for non-commercial traffic.”