Tesla updates Model 3 software with radio, odometer, and more
Dec. 1st 2017 Fred Lambert
When Tesla started delivering the Model 3 in July, it still hadn’t completed
the software and user interface of its new electric vehicle.
The automaker has been updating the Model 3’s software since the launch and
their latest update this week now brings some new (though quite basic)
One of the main missing features that had people puzzled was the FM radio.
A standard feature in virtually any car for decades now, some were surprised
that Tesla, which makes some of the most advanced vehicles out there, didn’t
include in the Model 3.
Of course, it was just an example of the incomplete software.
We have now received reports that Tesla included the feature in its latest
Model 3 software update this week.
Yes, Model 3 now has the radio.
Other features recently added also include odometer, tire pressure, and
energy consumption applications. All those apps have long been in the Model
S and Model X, but Tesla is now adding them to Model 3.
Tesla is also adding features to the Model 3 that have been more recently
introduced, like the easy entry and exit system attached to the driver’s
The automaker described the feature when introducing it to Model S and Model
X last month:
“Starting in this release, you can get in and out of the driver’s seat
more easily. When you park, the steering wheel and driver’s seat will
automatically adjust for an easier exit. After you return to the vehicle,
they automatically adjust back to the recent driving profile when you step
on the brake. Or, if your keyfob is linked to your driver profile, the seat
and steering wheel adjust accordingly. As always, you can restore your
profile by selecting it from the list.”
We are told that the Model 3’s UI is still not complete, but there has been
a lot of progress since the launch and the system is now more mature – just
in time for the expected start of regular customer deliveries in the next
While it might not seem like much, adapting all the different software
applications to the different screens is actually a great task.
Going from a vertical to a horizontal screen is one thing, but the Model 3
also features a new computer platform different from the Model S and Model
Tesla had to adapt its code to the new computer’s Intel chips instead of
I find it fascinating that Tesla releases a new vehicle like that with the
software clearly in beta. I suppose it plays right into their plan to first
release the vehicle to employees in order to work out the early issues. I
suppose we are going to have a better idea of how well it played out after
their first few regular customer deliveries.
The Tesla Model 3 “First Production” Design Studio Is Live For Early
December 1st, 2017 Kyle Field
The Tesla Model 3 has been the most closely watched plug-in vehicle launch
in history, and with nearly half a million reservations for it from Tesla
employees, SpaceX employees, and customers around the world, every eye is on
Tesla for updates as Model 3 production continues to ramp up.
Tesla had initially started shipping the Model 3 to Tesla and SpaceX
employees and just recently started letting non-employees choose their
preferred configuration, with the first production Model 3s only being built
with both the larger “Long Range” battery pack that comes at a $9,000
premium and the “Premium Package” that costs $5,000.
While many reservations holders are unwilling to pony up the incremental
$14,000 to potentially get the vehicle in December 2017, it still afforded
us early birds our first view of the official public Tesla Model 3 Design
Upon entering the Design Studio, buyers or prospective buyers are able to
select from big-ticket options like the Long Range Battery ($9,000 upgrade)
and the Premium Upgrades option ($5,000 upgrade). The Long Range battery
increases the range from 220 miles (354 kilometers) to 310 miles (500
Drivers accustomed to the range afforded by combustion vehicles might feel
that the upgrade is necessary, but most electric vehicle drivers would
likely argue that the extra range is not necessary for the vast majority of
driving. Tesla has also created firm milestones for range with its
Supercharger network, as I found on my ultimate Tesla road trip from Ohio to
California. When I calculated it out, I found that it was actually faster to
charge at every Supercharger, even with their 90–140 mile spacing, than it
was to skip a charger and charge for longer.
The Design Studio also lays out all of the options delivered with the
Premium upgrade package in comparison to the standard interior. Tesla’s
decision to roll all of the interior upgrades for Model 3 into a single
package has been a point of contention amongst eager reservation holders,
but there are two clear points to be made about the all-or-nothing approach
to Model 3 interior options.
First, offering all of the upgrades in a single package simplifies the
complexity of the production line to such a degree that it decreases the
number of possible configurations by 10x. This drives the production cost
down while at the same time allowing Tesla to increase production speed.
Interior assembly will only have two options: A or B. Elon has commented
that there will eventually be an option for a white interior, but that still
keeps the number of options down to a total of 4.
Second, lumping the options together into a single package allows Tesla to
offer all the goodies for a lower total cost. One Tesla Motors Club forum
post tallied the cost of the individual upgrades on a Model S and came up
with a total cost of $12,700 for the options that are included in the $5,000
Model 3 Premium Package. It is true that the upgrades in the Model S are
different and include a few smaller upgrades (e.g., ambient lighting), but
all told, the Model 3 Premium Package is a good value when it comes to
For me, I really just want the glass roof and center console but am willing
to kick down the extra cash compared to what these individual options would
have cost on a Model S with the other options thrown in. It’s not going to
make everyone happy, but it definitely helps when it comes to producing a
lower cost electric vehicle at the volumes Tesla is projecting.
Buyers are then able to view their car for the first time and can select
from a few exterior options. It’s quite simple, with a choice of any color
other than black costing $1,000 and two options for rims. The aero rims are
admittedly not the sexiest thing on the planet, but the fact that the covers
are removable and cover up rims that look pretty great to me makes them a
Going for a long road trip? Slap the aero covers on for better efficiency.
Cruising around town and want to impress the kids at the local high school?
Pop the covers off and you’re sporting some good-looking alloy rims. Tesla
also offers 19 inch sport rims for an additional $1,500 that look nice if
you’re into that.
Finally, you can select from one of three Autopilot packages. Because all of
the hardware for all of the Autopilot suites is included in every Tesla
Model 3 built, these are all software upgrades and don’t require any
hardware customization at the factory. It also means that you can upgrade
them after the fact — though, Tesla charges a $1,000 premium if you upgrade
The first option is Enhanced Autopilot, which costs an additional $5,000.
This includes the famed Autopilot functionality that takes cruise control to
the next level. Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, part of that, allows the
driver to set a speed and then adjusts the speed the vehicle is moving if
traffic slows down. TACC will even bring the vehicle to a complete stop,
making it an important safety feature that I expect will become mandatory in
vehicles because it’s just so darn helpful.
Tesla takes that to the next level with Enhanced Autopilot by enabling the
vehicle to detect lanes and steer as well, making it a full Level 2
autonomous vehicle. EAP also enables the vehicle to automatically change
lanes, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway, and
self-park at the destination. It is not fully autonomous and comes with an
important caveat that Tesla has not fully developed or deployed all of this
functionality. Tesla notes that “Software has begun rolling out and features
will continue to be introduced as validation is completed, subject to
“Full Self-Driving Capability” is also available as an option today for
$3,000, but no part of it is available at this time. Tesla aspires to enable
the Model 3 to be fully autonomous, “capable of conducting trips with no
action required by the person in the driver’s seat.” All signs point to
fully autonomous driving coming in the next 5 to 10 years to the broader
automotive industry, but even Tesla is not willing to commit to a date by
which this will be available.
Finally, at the end, buyers get to see what the damage is, financially
speaking, and detail out how they would like to pay for the vehicle. The
Design Studio is an important step towards bringing the Model 3 to the
masses, but at the end of the day, it all hinges on Tesla relieving pressure
on the supply side of the equation and simply making Model 3s.
That’s not to say that increasing production is a simple, fix but that’s
where all the chips are on the table. If Tesla can successfully ramp up
production on Model 3, it ensures that it has the right to take on another
Gigafactory or 3 around the world. Successfully ramping up Model 3
establishes the foundation for Tesla to push the Tesla Semi through to
production and to show off a Tesla Crossover (Model Y) or Tesla Pickup
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