Electric car's link to charging network will 'end range anxiety', claims Musk

Tesla’s Model S will use live interaction with the charging network to warn its driver if they’re about to run out of range, as part of a string of updates announced today by the company’s boss Elon Musk.

The software update - version 6.2 of the Model S’s system - will bring what Tesla is calling the Range Assurance Application. It runs even when the navigation is not in use, and checks Tesla’s own Superchargers and 'Destination chargers' (third-party sites at golf clubs, hotels and public areas) every 30 seconds. This, Musk claims, will allow the Model S to alert the driver if any potential charger is out of use, warn them if they’re about to run out of sufficient range to get to an alternative, and navigate them to an available, working charger. “It’s basically going to be impossible to run out of range unless you do so intentionally,” Musk said during the launch press conference. “The car will check that you want to go ahead with what you’re doing. You’ll need to say yes, twice.”

The connectivity to the charging network will also assist a trip planner, which will navigate you to your destination factoring in the charging locations on route. “Think of it as a big network of cars communicating dynamically with a big network of chargers,” said Musk. “We haven’t seen that before.”

Tesla hopes the new apps will help to further break down range anxiety among non-EV owners. Musk said, "We actually don't think many people with a Model S suffer from range anxiety, but this is helpful for the people who don't drive a Model S. It could put their mind at ease."

The update - which is scheduled to be installed via every Model S’s built-in 3G connectivity within the next couple of weeks - also introduces emergency city braking and blind spot warning to the car's safety systems.

Today’s conference fell short of some predictions - fuelled by Musk’s Twitter tease that he was going to ‘end range anxiety’, and leaked patent applications - that Tesla was preparing a software-based update to the Model S’s electric inverter that could actually have increased the physical range.

However, Musk did offer some hints at what the next major update - version 7.0 - will deliver when it arrives later this year. It will introduce a user interface overhaul on the Model S’s enormous dashboard screen and, more notably, bring the car closer to full autonomous driving. Musk revealed that a prototype Model S has been driving from San Francisco to Seattle “with the driver hardly touching the controls at all” - although he admitted that while the system could in theory work in towns, it will only be available on highways and private land. That second function will also allow the user to ‘summon’ their car via mobile phone, or send it off to the garage to park itself.

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Comments
3

20 March 2015
This has got to be the best bit about these cars put aside the electric motors power, tax savings and all the rest. Cars date so quickly because of the tech in them and the fact that every Tesla gets these updates means if yours is 2 years old or 2 months old they run the same tech. I really think this is an over looked advantage of these cars and one i thinks the big mainstream makes should be catching onto quickly

20 March 2015
Mr Musk thinks that by telling the driver when and one assumes where the car will run out of charge is the best way to overcome "range anxiety". What if the nearest charging point is 45 miles away and you have only 25 miles of range? Or is he suggesting that rather than plan your journey from say London to Bristol via the most direct and quickest route you need instead to plan it by a zig-zag or roundabout route so you never stray out of range of the very few charging points that are available? Is he also suggesting that you really ought to leave a margin of several hours for your arrival due to the potential need to charge up for hours on end? I am assuming by his assertion that you will only run out of charge "intentionally" that these latter 2 scenarios are the case. It seems that even the world's most vocal proponent of battery cars is admitting that they will never be as convenient as a IC engine car. Ultimately the energy that that can be stored in a battery is finite as indeed it is with the energy stored in a fossil fuel. With electrical energy you must place the energy into a storage medium (a battery) before the engine can use it rather than put the storage medium (petrol/diesel) in your fuel tank. The big problem is that the storage medium of a battery cannot accept a charge (fuel) more quickly than physics will allow thus prolonging the charging process. Until this issue is overcome, if indeed it ever can be, battery cars will never be as convenient as IC engine cars. The only viable alternative solution and the one derided by Mr Musk is to produce the electricity on board the car via a hydrogen fuel cell.

20 March 2015
As Musk as already said Hydrogen is just plain dumb. With plug-in cars costing from 2p a mile who in their right mind would buy a hydrogen car for an expected £60,000 (when Toyota import 10 of them later this year, maybe) with running costs some 15 times higher than a car running on electric. Anyhow if you’re worried about range anxiety then Hydrogen is a no-no as you’d be worried if you lost sight of Swindon. Can’t remember the last time I drove over 200 miles and if I did have to I’d just take the wifes car.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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