Tesla's demon-haunted cars in Irma's path get a temporary battery-life boost

I bet they have an accountant there trying to figure out the exact tax write off they would be able to get for donating all that extra capacity to people in need.


Of course Mary Barra brought the consumer version of the Bolt to market with greater range and a cheaper price earlier. You can actually buy the car - not buy a waiting list. And get it serviced at a dealer down the block.

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Not if they’re evil, but the head of Tesla has mentioned that he’s somewhat interested in making the world better. Also, lower product failure rate is in their interest as they’re the ones on the hook to fix things under warranty.

Edited to add multiple replies–not quite sure if this will work.

@winkybber WRT autopilot. Yes, they all have the hardware, but the inclusion of that follows my earlier arguement about the battery hand only having to develop and manufacture one set of parts. It very well may be cheaper for them to include all of that hardware in the car rather than selectively install it. In regards to the ‘essentially costless to Tesla’ part of it, I’d argues that it’s not anywhere near as costless. If they enable autopilot in a car, they bear a lot of liability for any failure it may have. Given the immature level of self driving ability that has been developed at this time, that’s a very non-zero cost.


That’s a cheeseburger.


In the mid 1980s I bought an Atari computer (Mega ST) with two megabytes of memory. They also sold this computer with four megabytes. After I had it for several months I decided to open it up and see how difficult it would be to add the other two MB of RAM.

After yanking off the RFI shield I was surprised to find that all of the memory was fully populated. I looked up the chip numbers and found that 4 MB was already installed. So why did the system report only 2 MB? I had to remove the whole PCB and flip it over to find out why. There were two unsoldered pins on the 2nd bank of memory. I got a fine tipped soldering iron and fixed that problem, and had an instant upgrade. Savings of over $350, iirc.


You only get to eat the cheese if you upgrade


That’s a nice thought.
The question, I guess, becomes where exactly does making the world better coincide with maximizing shareholder value.
I mean, intentions are conditional, and do change over time, just sayin’.


The story, as I understand it, was that originally Tesla sold the 60 kwh model only, with the 60 kwh battery. After a time they started producing the 75 kwh battery to replace the 60 kwh one, and they introduced it to the cars as a choice between a 75 kwh car, and software-limited 60 kwh car sold at the original 60 kwh version’s price point, upgradable to 75 kwh. The software limited line lasted a year before being discontinued.

Is this evil? Up to you I guess.


Doesn’t your “benefits to the purchaser and to Tesla” analysis require ignoring all the people paying the 75KWh price for hardware that is apparently viable to sell for the 60KWh price?

I don’t think anyone is accusing Tesla of being stupid; a firmware mod is almost certainly the more cost effective way to implement price discrimination compared to having two different designs, especially for a relatively low volume part that likely requires regulatory validation; just noting that a tier price discrimination approach is a pretty much textbook strategy for trying to maximize your cut of the value of the transaction; and that using a firmware mod as the differentiating factor only works if you maintain tight control over the behavior of the software for the life of the product.


The question seems to be “if, in maximizing shareholder value, you incidentally make the world a better place, are you still evil?”


One could be brought to wonder.

The fact that Tesla sold those cars at the 60 kwh price doesn’t mean they actually want to sell it at that price. After all they offer the upgrade option. You could reasonable surmise that the plan for the 60 kwh cars is that Tesla figured that the 60 kwh purchasers will go for the upgrade at some point, which is more expensive than buying 75kwh straight up, so on average the 60 kwh buyers pay the same or more than the 75 kwh buyers.

“Viable to sell” is an ambiguous measure in any case. For sure all these cars can be sold a lot cheaper. But it’ll mean less money for Tesla, which you can dismiss as ‘less profit for shareholders’ but you can also see as ‘less money for R&D’, less marketting so slower pickup of electric cars, fewer charging stations, worse products down the line etc etc. If you believe Tesla’s goal is to grow the electric car industry, the question of what price to charge cannot be simplified into ‘as little as possible’.


Is this the same Captain Blood I’m thinking of ,where you had to hunt down your clones or your life essence ran out and you could no longer control the interface? That game traumatized me.


Tiered priceing maximizes profit for all transactions in the sense that it doesn’t leave out buyers who will not pay a higher price. It doesn’t do anything to maximize the ‘cut of the value’ from individual transactions.

And, yes, my analysis does include that. In so much as it provides a reason for Tesla to sell the nerf’ed 75KWh car for a lower price. Let’s be clear, they have a huge waiting list. They could have stopped selling at the 60KWh price point and still sold every car they made. They would have made more money up front. So, clearly, they saw some value in keeping the lower price point around.

The concern about the ethics of locking down the firmware is complex. Maybe I can share the reasoning that the OSS movement has come to that relates to this. OSS in general wants to see all software open and that’s a great goal, but when trying to apply that to firmware they ran into pushback from the manufacturers. The manufacturers say:

“We sell black boxes. We document how to talk to them and what they should do. Yes, they have software (which we call firmware) running inside of them to make them work. No, we don’t think you should get this software in an ‘open’ form (source code). Our reason being that we could have made the product with hardcoded logic or with a small processor running firmware. Either way the black box would still work the same way when viewed from the outside. So, why does our choice of how to implement it expose us to a higher level of scruitny?”

This answer was pretty divisive to the OSS movement as it showed the divide between the “software should be open so that I can modify it and make it work the way I want it to” and the “free all the things” groups.

Edited: grammar


Yes. I was interested in the parcer interface.

Badges. Millennials love badges. “You’ve unlocked an extra 15 kWh!”


Yeah so I played that for hours and the first time I actually managed to catch a clone and put it in the extractor or whatever … it cried and said “please don’t kill me daddy”.

…and that’s why I never played Captain Blood again. I was like TWELVE.

Edit: okay it was 1988 I was 15. But STILL.


Look, sometimes you gotta hold kids back for their own good. Otherwise they might take on more than they can handle and the next thing you know you’ve got a whole ferry worth of civilians in danger.

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…Wow, that’s fucked up.


Yes, completely agree that including the hardware in all cars is potentially the lowest cost configuration for manufacturing. The liability costs for enabling the functionality is not one I considered, but given the terrible record of human drivers, even immature systems could well be safer. Autonomous emergency braking is certainly well-enough advanced to be safer than relying on the texting idiots behind the wheel of many cars. Could Tesla be subject to litigation for NOT enabling the technology?