New Tesla 'Range Anxiety' Software Is Just Like the Nissan LEAF
As is their wont, Tesla Motors built up a lot of hype before rolling out their latest announcement, this time explaining how a simple software update will "eliminate range anxiety" in the Tesla Model S. The software, when you boil it down to brass tacks, does what the software in almost every other electric vehicle - like, say, the Nissan LEAF - has done for years. It estimates range based on driving habits and the amount of charge left in the battery. Read like that, it appears that what Elon Musk really did was make a big announcement that the Model S is now entering "EV 101" in its cockpit.
The truth is, it's a bit more complicated than that. Enough so that it's all in the details and the only people who will care about those details are software engineers and those who are probably already huge Tesla fans anyway. In other words, this update and the "range anxiety elimination" isn't really much of a sales point. Nor will it likely bring in new buyers for the Model S or upcoming Model X.
Simple. Because range anxiety is not really a concern in a car that gets a minimum of 200 miles per charge anyway and that can be charged at any of a number of stations in about half an hour. In other words, folks, Elon Musk just pulled a U.S. Congress and fixed a problem that didn't really exist.
There are only two types of people who worry about range anxiety in an EV. The first is the type of person who would worry about the number of rivets used to build the Brooklyn Bridge and whether adding a few more would make it safer or more convenient. The other is the type of person who just needs excuses to rail on something they don't like, in this case either EVs in general or Tesla in particular.
Outside of the niche fanatics who think the entire world should be riding bicycles powered by pixie rays, if only the government and Big Oil would get out of the way, out here in the real world, people who talk about electric cars rarely mention range anxiety. For nearly every person on the planet who likes cars, talks about automobiles, or is in the market to buy one talks instead about the pros and cons of fuel economy, versatility, comfort, and so forth. For example, I live in Wyoming where seeing an EV is like seeing a camel - it doesn't happen. Not often. Yet I've talked to a cattle rancher, a nurse practitioner, and a car salesman - all of whom own electric cars. They own them because they see a benefit. None of them worried about range anxiety when they bought their vehicles. With a 200+-mile Model S, the concept seems even more ludicrous.
So there you have it. Tesla solved a problem that doesn't exist by issuing a software update that is basically doing what all other EVs already do. As comical as that sounds, and it is, we still should wonder if Musk in 2016 wouldn't be better than the apparent alternative non-problem fixers we'll have to choose from.