Electric car maker Tesla announced an over-the-air update for its entire Model S line today, introducing two new features.
The first is a range assurance app, which will tell you when you are driving out of range of charging stations. Tesla’s navigation system will show drivers a map of the most convenient charging locations that accounts for hills and valleys as well as weather and wind speed.
The second feature is a trip planner that not only directs you to your destination, but builds in pit-stops with guidance on how long you should stop at each place in order to avoid running out of fuel. In the past year, Tesla has put a lot of energy into building out its Supercharger network, especially around rest areas and potential stops, and this update basically highlights that work.
The company is expected to roll out these updates in the next 10 days or so, depending on the results of its current beta test.
During a press conference, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk also alluded to some cool new features in the pipeline for debut this summer. He said in version 7 there will be a user interface overhaul, “because you need one given the way the car is going to interact you in the future.”
A lot of that will naturally revolve around auto-steering. Musk said in the next version you’ll be able to summon your car (a feature that was demonstrated last year). The company has been testing the car’s auto-driving capabilities along a route that travels from San Francisco to Seattle, and Musk said, “We’re almost able to get there without the driver touching any controls at all.”
Musk first teased today’s update earlier this week, sending the company’s stock up a few points in the process.
“Range anxiety,” the fear that your electric car will run out of juice at the wrong time, sits at the heart of today’s update — though Musk insists range anxiety is something that only non-Tesla drivers have.
Still, Tesla can address (and has addressed) this fear in two ways: by improving batteries, and by building out a distributed charging network. Tesla already leads the pack in terms of electric car range at 265 miles per charge. That’s good. But the company has a lot of work to do if it wants to convince the entire world that electric cars are practical.
To do that, the company is investing in putting charging stations and destinations throughout Canada, the U.S., China (except for the Gobi desert), and the main islands of Japan.
In other news, Tesla won a major victor in New Jersey this week — the state will now allow Tesla to sell its cars directly to consumers.