Tesla has rolled out software updates to fix the Model 3’s braking issue, marking a new era in automotive history.
It used to be that when there was a huge problem with an entire fleet of cars, that car maker would have to issue a recall and get them all fixed. Not anymore. Now, cars with internet connectivity can just download new operating parameters from the manufacturer to fix whatever ails them.
Take the Model 3. Last week, Consumer Reports came out with a pretty harsh review that failed to recommend the Model 3 for a number of issues, not the least of which was a stopping distance worse than a Ford F-150. It took 152 feet for the Model 3 to go from 60 mph to zero, which was the absolute worst in its class and even worse than some pickup trucks.
Shortly after that review came out, Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a statement that his engineers would roll out an over-the-air software update that would fix the stopping distance issue, improving brake distance by around 20 feet.
Also, firmware fix for upgraded brake performance on standard Model 3 started rolling out yesterday. Should improve braking distance by ~20 ft for repeated heavy braking events. Thanks @ConsumerReports for excellent critical feedback!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2018
Consumer Reports said they’ll take another look at the car once the updates are in place, but it truly begs the question of how the Model 3 managed to roll off the assembly line with such a glaring fault?
It’s no secret that the Model 3 had a troubled development history. Tesla forwent the usual production testing of cars before giving the green light to factory assembly, which caused a number of delays as Tesla engineers continually find bottlenecks due to faulty parts. Rather than producing 5,000 cars per week by 2018, Tesla struggled to break the 1,000 car barrier until April.
Even now, production is at 3,500 Model 3s per week and is not expected to hit 5,000 until the end of June.
But it also marks a new era for cars, one which sees physical faults corrected via software rather than hardware. It’s strange to think of a car’s systems as being no different than your cell phone or home computer that can be updated by the manufacturer on a whim. Strange days, indeed.