When it comes to reacting to potential problems which may directly affect its customers’ experiences of its Model S sedan, Tesla is faster than any other automaker on the planet.
That’s been proved after Tesla pushed an over-the-air software update to all of its Model S cars last weekend designed to protect them from any faulty wiring in the electrical circuit they’re plugged into.
The update comes on the heels of a fire which took place in November in Orange County, California, where substandard wiring in a garage where a Model S was plugged in and charging from a 240-volt drier outlet overheated and then caught fire. As we reported last week, the fire most likely began because the wiring in the garage — which wasn’t originally designated an official electric vehicle charging circuit — was old and incapable of carrying the current required by the car. As the car charged, the electrical wiring in the wall slowly heated up, reaching combustible point and starting the fire.
As we mentioned, while the car wasn’t at fault in this instance — after looking at the logs, Tesla says the car performed exactly as it should — Tesla’s software update nevertheless should help prevent this from happening again, because the update will actively monitor the charging circuits for fluctuations in voltage that fall outside of normally-expected parameters. If it detects any, it will automatically reduce the charging current and or halt charging completely, protecting the car and the electrical wiring of the outlet it is plugged into.
Here’s how it works. When an electrical circuit is overloaded — either due to elderly wiring with a high resistance or just misuse — the wiring itself will heat up, causing a voltage drop across the circuit. Instead of being 240 volts, for example, poor wiring could cause a substantial amount of energy to be lost due to heating of the wires. When it sees that voltage drop, the Model S knows there’s a problem and will take steps to protect itself.
Like previous software updates for the Model S, the update has been pushed automatically to customers’ cars using the on-board wireless Internet connection built into each and every Model S. In addition to speeding up the adoption of any software update, the system also minimises the need for customers to visit a Tesla Service Centre in order to benefit from the latest features of any updates.
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