Tesla’s often been called a Silicon Valley tech company that makes cars instead of an automaker and two happenings this week may illustrate why, at the very least, Tesla’s a different kind of company.
The company sent a warning to all owners in California to charge their vehicles to full capacity, instead of leaving them just shy of the maximum that Tesla and other EV owners typically do to improve the life of the vehicle’s battery.
It sent the note after California’s Pacific Gas & Electric revealed it was planning on cutting power to more than 800,000 customers later in the day. If you own an electric vehicle, a lack of electricity can be problematic.
The utility was cutting the power due to dry and windy conditions the Golden State is experiencing, hoping to prevent a repeat of last year when electrical lines sparked wildfires contributing the massive Paradise wildfire.
Tesla got proactive after the alert from the utility, issuing an in-car alert warning owners to charge their vehicles fully ahead of the outage. Tesla is also activating the “Storm Watch” feature on its PowerWall to store excess electricity before the power is cut off, Reuters reported.
This type of engagement with customers is certainly more attributable to Tesla and its over-the-air updates for its vehicles than its EV-producing competition. By charging to full, Tesla owners are likely to have enough charge to get around town as they normally would without a problem.
The company also noted that if drivers do happen to start running low on juice, it can check the superchargers in the area to see if they are active, the company noted.
However, if one of the moves is to use the newly installed Smart Summon feature on the car, Consumer Reports is warning that it may not perform as expected, calling the feature “glitchy.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into several complaints it received from owners who had problems with the new system.
Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, says users are not getting fully tested, consumer-ready technology. Tesla owners are non-voluntary beta testers helping to fine-tune the technology. The system costs $6,000, and it’s not necessarily ready for prime time.
“What consumers are really getting is the chance to participate in a kind of science experiment,” he said. “This is a work in progress.”
The Smart Summon feature is hitting some snags. Actually, it’s hitting other cars, garages and in many cases causing some close calls that leave owners and other drivers clutching their chests as their hearts attempt to beat through them.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk did say last month before it was released that the system would improve, and that’s the case he’s made for many of the innovative features on Tesla vehicles is that they will get better over time.