Usually, when automakers add new features to a car, they do so during a mid-cycle refresh or model year swap. And when they do, those features are highlighted in an official press release.
But when Tesla Motors recently added Lane Departure Warning and Speed Assist features to its Model S electric car, it did so without any fanfare at all.
As GreenCarReports details, several Tesla owners were surprised to note that the latest version of the Tesla Model S owners’ manual — updated as part of the recent OS 6.0 software update — gives details on two features not previously available on the luxury sedan: Lane Departure Warning and Speed Assist.
Shortly afterwards, some new owners who had specified Tesla’s optional tech package noted that their cars not only had a revised steering wheel switch stalk with the cruise control and direction indicator positions reversed but that their cars also had a small front-facing camera hidden behind the rear view mirror and a square sensor located in the centre of the lower grille.
The sudden addition of new features on Tesla cars isn’t exactly that surprising or new. Unlike most automakers, which tend to save feature upgrades until mid-cycle refreshes or model-year changes, Tesla tends to add features as and when they are ready to enter production. But in this case, there are two interesting facts that may indicate that this upgrade is something to do with Tesla’s upcoming announcement on Thursday this week.
Firstly, while the mention of Lane Departure Warning and Speed Assist appeared in version 1.65.11 of the Tesla manual, it appears to have vanished in version 1.65.13, indicating that perhaps the release of that particular part of the manual was premature.
Secondly, while some cars are being delivered with the required mirror-mounted front facing camera and sensor, not all new Model S cars appear to have the hardware fitted, suggesting it’s something of a lottery at the moment for anyone picking up a new Tesla Model S. What’s more, not all of Tesla’s staff seem to know about them, with some telling customers that they’re unaware of such a feature while others hint that it’s something being developed for the future.
In other words, some customers are being surprised by the inclusion of new hardware in their cars, while others are being disappointed to find that their cars were made before the hardware was implemented.
What do we think?
On one level, we’re pleased to see Tesla finally add two important driver assistance features which are considered standard fit equipment on most mid- to high-end cars on the market today but which were conspicuously absent in the Model S. On another level, we think the addition of this hardware also lays the path for future software upgrades by Tesla in which auto-pilot capabilities will be added in the near future, something Elon Musk recently promised would happen in the very near future.
Does this mean Tesla’s unveiling on Thursday will be centred on self-driving features? Given the fact that a Tesla Model S P85D has been spotted in the wild — D most likely meaning dual motor or All-Wheel Drive– we’re yet to be convinced the new sensors and driver assistance features will be centre stage. But since Musk promised us ‘the D and something else’, we’re pretty convinced that this is the ‘something else.’
Do you agree? What do you make of the quiet inclusion of this new technology in the Tesla Model S? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
(Photos used in this post reproduced under fair use for Journalistic purposes from their respective forum threads at www.teslamotorsclub.com)
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