Tesla Motors recently upgraded their car software to version 5.0. This new version includes an easy-to-setup tow mode, the ability of the vehicle to use a cellular phone’s hotspot and improved ‘creep performance.’
Like many cars, Tesla vehicles have a great deal of software and equipment that come standard. Unlike many cars, Tesla includes a 3G wireless cell modem in the car that allows Tesla to learn about how their cars are used, and also push updates and data to the cars. This allows the Tesla to tweak the user experience, much like someone with an iPhone can get more out of a new updated operating system without having to get a whole new phone.
The interesting updates include a change in the ‘creep performance.’ Gas-powered cars keep moving forward, even if you take your feet off the gas pedal. Electric car makers found that drivers are so used to this that when it is missing, as in an electric car where the motor only runs if you give it juice, drivers feel that something is ‘wrong’ with the car. As a result, electric cars ‘creep’ forward slightly even if you have your foot off the gas, just like a gas-powered car. The new software presumably adjusts this to feel more ‘natural.’ Other improvements include letting the car connect to a Wi-Fi network (faster downloads and updates while in your garage) or cellphone hotspot, and improvements to driver profiles (forget custom seat memory, Tesla has whole profiles). Changes in sleep mode might also help battery life, as they have in the past.
The tow mode is hopefully one that Tesla hopes you don’t have to use that often. But up to this point, many news stories of stranded or crashed Teslas have focused on the fact that emergency personnel or support people have struggled to figure out how to tow a Tesla. This recent story about a Tesla that hit a telephone pole was all over the internet, with many noting that Tesla had to be called before the tow truck could commence due to a lack of easy-to-find tow mode. That should be a solved issue with this update.
Over all, these all look to be small, solid tweaks (with the major functionality update being an added tow mode), despite the ‘5.0’ label, rather than a fundamental overhaul of the Tesla software. One user who has gotten the update ahead of others has posted screenshots of the changes on Flickr.