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GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/9/16 9:38 a.m.

It was only a matter of time until some auto manufacturer made you pay money to flip a bit in your car and enable a feature which it had the hardware for the entire time. Tesla did it first:

https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/09/tesla-model-s-60-60d-returns/

The new Model S has a bigger battery, but range and performance will be artificially limited to less than the battery can support unless you pay money to remove the artificial limitation. This is the equivalent of selling an ICE car with a rev limiter set below peak power and a fuel cutoff that activates at 1/4 tank unless you pay money to remove these limits.

Tesla's doing interesting things with automotive hardware but I really don't like them as a company...first they try to limit access to replacement parts and repair manuals, and now this. They're way too much like Apple.

Edit: Mods, feel free to fix the typo in the title.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/9/16 9:44 a.m.

Hold on, maybe this isn't the first? Maybe the first was actually Ford's TracKey and Track Cal? They cost extra...a lot extra...more than a new game console.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
6/9/16 9:49 a.m.

I thought the engine "upgrades" in turbo-era BMWs were pretty much a matter of ECU programming rather than increased displacement or hardware.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav SuperDork
6/9/16 9:52 a.m.

This has happened on older Teslas, too, but I think it's bigger news now that the company is more well known. I've talked to a low level employee there about this, and they weren't able to give me an answer to a question about it, but I can come up with one possible excuse for the price difference:

With the limited output version, presumably Tesla can manage the charge-discharge cycles of the battery into a narrower range. If so, and if ( a big if) lithium-ion batteries behave in a similar way to NiMH batteries, keeping the batteries in a more limited range of their capacity will result in a more reliable battery pack, and one that will likely have lower warranty costs.

I'd still assume there is extra profit built into the more expensive version, but maybe it's not purely profit.

STM317
STM317 Reader
6/9/16 9:53 a.m.

Was going to mention the TracKey. Pretty sure they have a similar one for parents to limit capabilities of vehicles driven by young drivers too, but I can't remember what their marketing name for it is.

It's common in the diesel world to have a manufacturer offer multiple power levels for an engine with the only difference being a software calibration change.

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
6/9/16 9:57 a.m.

I dunno. Seems awful similar to selling a 'muscle car' with the smallest engine choice. Sure, all the other systems on the car are ready to support big power, but unless you pay for it, you get less power. I have a hunch that a lot of current cars do this with infotainment/GPS features (but no real proof).

I think it is actually a brilliant move. Market wants some customization, meaning not every buyer wants the same thing for the same price. But it is likely cheaper to produce 10 of the same rather than 5 of 1 and 5 of the other.

Plus, maybe someone doesn't elect to pay the money now, but 2 years down the road they are ready to pay for the upgrade? Its like Tesla is still getting the upsell even on cars that didn't get the upsell at first. Or what about trade ins? Now Tesla can take a lower model trade in, flip the switch, and sell out a used car with better specs! Its like selling a new car TWICE!

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
6/9/16 9:58 a.m.

Dislike.

If its a matter of software limitation because the software required had extensive development cost and you are essentially purchasing a license for it, but the hardware is already there, I'm ok with it. Ex. Self driving or fancy-pants GPS, or whatever costing extra but not requiring extra hardware... fine.

But to turn a 300mi range into a 200mi range via software is something I disagree with.

A YJ Wrangler had 2 different options for gas tank volumes. They were both the same tank, but one they shoved the fill nozzle down further so the pump would cut off like 3 gallons earlier.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/9/16 9:59 a.m.
eastsidemav wrote: With the limited output version, presumably Tesla can manage the charge-discharge cycles of the battery into a narrower range. If so, and if ( a big if) lithium-ion batteries behave in a similar way to NiMH batteries, keeping the batteries in a more limited range of their capacity will result in a more reliable battery pack, and one that will likely have lower warranty costs.

Lithium batteries will indeed last longer if kept in an ideal charge range so you could be right...it still seems wrong to me though, that should be up to the owner. The lower redline analogy is a good one.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/9/16 10:01 a.m.
ProDarwin wrote: A YJ Wrangler had 2 different options for gas tank volumes. They were both the same tank, but one they shoved the fill nozzle down further so the pump would cut off like 3 gallons earlier.

Not software, but Jeep certainly deserves this dishonor in spirit...that is nasty.

Robbie
Robbie SuperDork
6/9/16 10:05 a.m.
GameboyRMH wrote:
ProDarwin wrote: A YJ Wrangler had 2 different options for gas tank volumes. They were both the same tank, but one they shoved the fill nozzle down further so the pump would cut off like 3 gallons earlier.

Not software, but Jeep certainly deserves this dishonor in spirit...that is nasty.

except it could still be a 'feature' right? I'd guess for serious 4 wheeling and angles you might want a tank that wasn't all the way full and about to spill back out the cap.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/9/16 10:08 a.m.
Robbie wrote: except it could still be a 'feature' right? I'd guess for serious 4 wheeling and angles you might want a tank that wasn't all the way full and about to spill back out the cap.

In my experience you only get spilling back out the cap if you fill the tank literally up to the fill neck. Depending on the exact placement and angle of the fill neck outlet in the tank, having some reserve capacity may not even do anything to prevent a spill (for example, if the fill neck exits in a corner or side of the tank rather than the top-center).

revrico
revrico HalfDork
6/9/16 10:11 a.m.

I'm still waiting for micro-transactions to make it to cars, be it in infotainment, or for power levels, or to go to sport mode or something.

It seems to me as a reading observer that we've been getting a LOT of cars just limited by crappy tunes from the factory. Actually, I think they've gotten better with that, but 10 years ago when the ecotec motors came around(50-60 hp just from a tune?), and even still today from some of the more hot cars, they get a generic base tune from the factory, and don't really wake up until you get into them with AccessPort or another tuner. Granted the generic tunes help without knowing exactly where the cars will end up, but it leaves a lot on the table for someone else to fix.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/9/16 10:19 a.m.

A lot of modern cars are limited by conservative boost levels and/or E-throttle mappings...at least there's a durability and economy argument there, and usually the factory isn't selling a tune to fix it, it's an aftermarket performance company doing it on their own. It's more along the lines of the conservative rev limiters on a lot of enthusiast-favorite Japanese engines from the '90s.

I hear a lot of modern sportbikes with e-throttles will rarely or even never use 100% throttle with the factory ECU programming - they'll usually stop around 75% when you're twisting for WOT.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
6/9/16 10:28 a.m.
revrico wrote: I'm still waiting for micro-transactions to make it to cars, be it in infotainment, or for power levels, or to go to sport mode or something.

As long as that means they are free to drive otherwise and just constantly play ads

calteg
calteg Dork
6/9/16 10:34 a.m.

Pretty sure Chevy has been doing this since the new Silverado came out. All the trim levels high enough to have a touch screen also have nav...you just have to pay to unlock it. Otherwise you can use the micro transaction Nav built in through Onstar.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
6/9/16 10:35 a.m.
revrico wrote: I'm still waiting for micro-transactions to make it to cars, be it in infotainment, or for power levels, or to go to sport mode or something. It seems to me as a reading observer that we've been getting a LOT of cars just limited by crappy tunes from the factory. Actually, I think they've gotten better with that, but 10 years ago when the ecotec motors came around(50-60 hp just from a tune?), and even still today from some of the more hot cars, they get a generic base tune from the factory, and don't really wake up until you get into them with AccessPort or another tuner. Granted the generic tunes help without knowing exactly where the cars will end up, but it leaves a lot on the table for someone else to fix.

Perhaps OP should look at this example.

Considering GM would sell you a new map sensor and tune, for a huge HP boost, and still keep the factory warranty.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/9/16 10:42 a.m.

MINI was there before Tesla. The Mini One (never sold in the US) had a lower power level than the Cooper. Turns out the only difference was that the One never fully opened the throttle pedal. A remap took care of that.

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UltraDork
6/9/16 11:18 a.m.

Been going on for years.

As for the Tesla thing it might be like the CORE's that get disabled on certain CPU's. The CPU has 8 cores but only 7 pass the test, so you just lock it off and sell it at a cheaper price as a 4 core. Better then throwing it away and only selling stuff that passes with all CORES running and you still get what you paid for.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
6/9/16 11:34 a.m.

Uh, does OnStar ring a bell to you?!? Every car had the hardware but you had to pay extra to turn it on. This has been going on for decades.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
6/9/16 11:52 a.m.

What if the price difference essentially pays the company for increased liability?

Limited the power output would limit the company's exposure. Increasing the power increases the risk, therefore increasing the company's costs. A higher price tag for making more power accessible seems pretty logical to me.

Kind of like Sirius. Your car is fully equipped to get many more stations, but not unless you pay the subscription price.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
6/9/16 12:00 p.m.
Javelin wrote: Uh, does OnStar ring a bell to you?!? Every car had the hardware but you had to pay extra to turn it on. This has been going on for decades.

Yes, but that's an ongoing service that costs GM a fair amount of money to provide.

The Tesla thing is a one-time, zero-cost (or very-low-cost) A/B selection in the programming. The development cost for the second "tune" are minimal when amortized over the vehicle's production run.

The only way it's truly justifiable is if you look at it from the perspective of insurance: engaging the higher-output option increases the chance of failure, so the cost of that additional risk is then shared among those who chose it.

Mike
Mike Dork
6/9/16 12:08 p.m.

Ugh. I hate this.

I'm with ProDarwin. If it's a software feature, great. Do it. No complaints.

Here, battery production has environmental impact. It's the favorite target of EV naysayers. To have the impact of making more batteries that are never used is wasteful in a way that is antithetical to the values of a wide swath of EV buyers. Worse, batteries are heavy. The lb/kWh equation sucks on these packs. Buyers must drag around all of this dead weight, and they have to do it with their artificially limited battery packs.

RossD
RossD UltimaDork
6/9/16 12:13 p.m.

I had to pay to have the ECU output a signal to the factory trailer wiring harness plug.

revrico
revrico HalfDork
6/9/16 12:15 p.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: The new Model S has a bigger battery, but range and performance will be artificially limited to less than the battery can support unless you pay money to remove the artificial limitation. This is the equivalent of selling an ICE car with a rev limiter set below peak power and a fuel cutoff that activates at 1/4 tank unless you pay money to remove these limits.

This actually has me thinking about my laptop. It has a "conservative"mode, so that when is plugged in, it status between 50-60% charge in an effort to keep the battery alive longer. Over a year old, and at a full charge it still lasts like it did new.

This almost sounds like what they're trying to do locking the capacity in the car, which makes the charge(fee not juice) a bit stranger to me.

Doesn't seem like a "I'm not using it much" button would be that difficult, Hell someone can or will probably make an override for it at some point in time. The one benefit of computer controlled everything, all computers can be controlled

Mike
Mike Dork
6/9/16 12:20 p.m.

In reply to revrico:

Pretty sure EVs offer what I think you're talking about already. Since full charges are rough on battery, most have an 80% long battery life charging setting and a 100% max range charging setting.

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