Your Tesla will become dog-friendly and super secure overnight

Tesla dog mode sentry mode

Tesla’s latest over-the-air update gives you a dog-friendly mode and an opportunity to turn your car into a giant four-wheeled surveillance system.

Say what you want about Tesla, but one quantum-leap advancement that it has pioneered in the automotive industry that you simply cannot argue with is over-the-air updates. In the past, upgrading your car was a matter of buying parts and taking it into the shop or spannering it yourself.

In Tesla vehicles, new features can be added while you sleep, with simple internet-fed software installations. Dog and Sentry modes are the latest and they won’t be the last…

What is Tesla ‘Dog mode’?

Dog mode allows the driver to set a comfortable temperature for your four-legged companions for when he or she is out on an errand. That’s the bit that’s crucial to your pups. What’s crucial for concerned dog-loving passers-by is the enormous message displayed on the screen; “My owner will be back soon. Don’t worry!”, with the temperature displayed even larger.

Such a good idea that addresses something that bothers a great many people.

What is Tesla’s ‘Sentry mode’?

On the company’s Twitter page, news of the Sentry mode is accompanied by the caption ‘Sentry Mode: Guarding Your Tesla’. That pretty well sums it up, and we’ve addressed it before when Elon Musk tweeted about the feature allowing the car to become its own dash cam. Nevertheless, here are a few more details that focus more on the anti-theft side of things.

Sentry mode uses the car’s various monitoring systems, including the cameras, to continuously examine the surrounding area when it’s left unattended.

If a ‘minimal threat’ – such as someone leaning on the car – is detected, the car goes into ‘alert’ state, where the screen shows a message warning that there are cameras recording.

Tesla Sentry Mode

‘Alarm’ state activates when there’s an attempted break-in or a similar greater threat. This includes activating the alarm, upping the brightness of the centre screen and playing music at full volume. The owner will also be alerted via the app and a video recording (beginning 10 minutes before the threat occurs) will be downloadable via a pre-inserted memory stick.

The feature needs to be activated every time the owner wants it running. Model 3 gets it first, with post-August 2017 Model S and X models following shortly thereafter.

Elon Musk: Teslas could soon be protected by ‘Sentry Mode’

Tesla Sentry Mode

A 360-degree camera will be coming to Tesla cars in the near future. Elon Musk calls it ‘Sentry Mode’ and it should remove the need for a dash cam.

An irritated Twitter user whose Tesla had suffered a dent within range of the rear-facing camera Tweeted Mr Musk directly, saying there should be a feature that utilises the car’s plethora of cameras and sensors for surveillance.

In typical Musk style, he responded with the public announcement that ‘Tesla Sentry Mode’ is coming – just the feature this aggrieved customer was looking for.

According to the Tweet, the feature will be ‘coming soon’ to all cars with Enhanced Autopilot. This is a feature customers have to pay extra for, but Musk clarified that it will be rolling out to all cars with the most recent ‘AP2+’ hardware.

You don’t, therefore, necessarily have to have bought Enhanced Autopilot, your car just needs to be new enough to have had the option – i.e. October 2016 onwards.

It certainly seems like a common-sense offering. We wouldn’t be surprised if in-built dash cam functions become the norm on most new cars in future.

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Elon Musk will give £700,000 to the person who can hack a Tesla

Tesla Model 3 delivery eventA total of £700,000 ($900,000) is up for grabs for one very skilled hacker who can delve into the computer systems of a Tesla Model 3. Each of the systems carries its own reward for the successful hacker: £700k is the overall total Musk has offered. 

It is all part of Pwn2Own’s hacking competition, now in its 13th year. In previous competitions, conventional tech like computers, phones, browsers and so on, have been the target. Now in this new age of autonomous electric cars, the Tesla makes for a very topical target in 2019.

Hack a Tesla

The prizes for various systems are as follows: $30,000 for infotainment access and $50,000 for a targeted denial of service (locking out owner) attack. Bluetooth and wifi systems access will win a hacker a $60,000 prize. Hacking of the app or key fob or indeed the communications system in the car’s electronics will win a hacker $100,000.

The top $250,000 is up for grabs for those who can get into the car’s autonomous systems. These challenges, among others, add up to a near million-dollar prize.

Tesla Model 3

As electronic systems and computers in cars get ever more sophisticated and take over more and more of the way a car works, car hacking becomes more and more of a risk.

So far, that’s one controversy that Tesla has thus far dodged – its cars seem to be secure as can be. In the UK, modern keyless entry systems and other such computer trickery has put cars at risk from thieves.

Manufacturers are increasingly focused on digitally defending against unauthorised access (stealing) as well as, even more terrifyingly, unauthorised takeover when on the road. Dangling the carrot and tempting the world’s brightest to put their best hacking skills forward ought to provide an intriguing insight indeed for Musk and the Tesla engineers…

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Meet the 840hp Tesla-powered Mustang

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

Aviar Motors is combining classic muscle car style with electric eco-friendly performance. Its new R67 is an all-wheel-drive Mustang EV.

Where do we begin? It has two electric motors, one per axle, connected to a 100kwh battery – all very similar to those used in P100 Teslas.

That makes it 4WD and means this ultimate ‘restomod’ for the zero-emissions age will hit 62mph in 2.2 seconds and top out at 155mph. On top of that, it’ll travel 315 miles on a single charge. We don’t think even an original Shelby GT500 will manage that on a tank of fuel.

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

The car, yet to be built, will use an alloy chassis with carbon fibre bodywork to keep weight low – around one tonne, impressively. If you’re worried about an old legend getting sullied by electric power, don’t worry. These are all-new rather than based on an existing car.

The exterior is highly faithful to the original pony car’s design. There are, however, telltale signs that this is no traditional ‘60s muscle hero. An active rear spoiler is perfectly flush with the style of the original bodywork. Spot the Tesla door handles, too.

LED lights, chrome strip detailing and slimmer exterior mirrors are also added, along with bigger wheels and brakes.

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

Where you definitely suspect something’s up is on the inside. Gone is the traditional 1960s style, with a 17-inch screen adorning the centre console. There is a whiff of the original style with the double-hump dash, though, along with the circular vents. 

It comes with a lot more toys than a classic Mustang. Or, for that matter, any Mustang ever built. Expect a version of Tesla Autopilot, cameras, parking sensors, traction and stability control, climate control and voice control in the cabin. It’ll even get Bluetooth and wi-fi.

It really is the best of modern tech, infused with the best of classic style.

Aviar R67 Electric Tesla Mustang

But what about V8 noise? Apparently, it’ll play a GT500 V8 rumble for passers-by, just so they know where it is. 

As for when you can buy one – all you can do is enquire at the moment. Aviar says there’s a six-month build time and that price will be on request. Here’s hoping it actually happens.

It might even help make Ford’s future plans to build a hybrid Mustang more acceptable… 

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Tesla Model 3

Elon Musk says the UK Tesla Model 3 is due in mid-2019

Tesla Model 3Tesla buyers in the United Kingdom could expect their Model 3s to start arriving as soon as mid-2019, according to Elon Musk on Twitter.

It seems Musk’s Twitter has become our best source on Tesla news of late… and this time, it’s positive news for Brits, particularly those who have placed a £1,000 deposit and have been waiting patiently for news. 

Many claims were made about this car when it was revealed, and some inevitably are yet to be delivered. A $35,000 base car and mainstream availability in other markets continue to elude us. However, a new mid-level car was revealed last week, with the promise of the base car soon to follow.

Now, Elon Musk has confirmed right-hand drive Model 3s are on their way to the UK and Australia. We reckon the quality control issues ought to be in hand by then, too. Once an entry-level Model 3 lands on a UK driveway, the Model 3 should be a fully resolved and matured, mainstream production car.

Tesla has even posted a $311million profit recently, prompting a pleasing share price rise for the company. It’ll make even more if it can get some right-hand drive Model 3s into the hands of UK and Australian customers in the not-too-distant future…

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Tesla Model 3

Elon Musk has introduced a new, cheaper Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Tesla has introduced a new, more affordable version of the Model 3. Or, we should say, Elon Musk has introduced it. The Tesla CEO tweeted yesterday, telling his followers about a mid-range version of Tesla’s crossover EV.

The new model costs from $45,000 (£34,550) in the US and offers 260 miles of range. Incidentally, it uses the same battery pack as the 310-mile-range model, only with fewer cells.

Performance is down, too. While the long-range car will do 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and a 145mph top speed, the new one needs 5.6 seconds and tops out at 125mph.

The Model 3 has already brought a mixture of success and criticism for the company. While it’s selling very well, Tesla has struggled to keep up in terms of production, quality and delivery. The £26,900 ($35,000) introductory model is yet to reach showrooms, too, with a debut planned for 2019.

This mid-range Model 3, it seems, is intended to serve as a stop-gap. Nevertheless, Tesla ownership is now $10,000 closer for many American buyers.

It could well turn out to be the sweet spot in the range, offering the best mileage for your money. 

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Tesla History

How remote updates will make your Tesla better overnight

Tesla update

One of the many innovations Tesla has propagated in its short and action-packed lifetime is over-the-air updates. In other words, the ability to fix or improve its cars without physically touching them.

The car you climb out of one evening could have new and improved technology when you get back in the following morning. And Tesla’s latest update actually helps its cars get better over time.

Software Version 9.0 will be rolling out to all Teslas imminently. “Tesla owners will be waking up to a car that is smarter, safer and more intuitive than ever before,” says the company.

We’ll be sure to ask our friend with a Model 3 just how effective the update is. In the meantime, here are the highlights.

What’s new in Tesla Software Version 9.0?

Tesla update

  • Phone integration – the relationship between your car and your mobile phone is about to become more intricate. As well as initiating software updates remotely, you can send map destinations to the car’s navigation system.
  • Dash cam – You can now record 10 minutes of footage from onboard cameras (featured on cars built after August 2017).
  • Full 360-degree view – Eight cameras around the car will now help with data for Autopilot autonomous driving systems, which used to rely purely on ultrasonic sensors.
  • Atari games – Classic Atari arcade games now feature as ‘easter eggs’. “If you find them, your car becomes a game console”. OK then…

Say what you want about Tesla, it has always been a market disruptor – one that’s given every single established car manufacturer food for thought.

While the ‘Ludicrous’ pace and the electric drivetrains grab headlines, the exceptional connectivity of these cars is what will keep them competitive. It’s innovation we can’t wait to see spreading to other cars.

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Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 long-term review: life with Elon Musk’s make-or-break electric car

Tesla Model 3

This is the first of a series of reports on buying and living with a Tesla Model 3 – the compact all-electric executive car, UK-bound for 2019.

We haven’t been given the car by Tesla. Indeed, Tesla isn’t even aware we’re doing this. It belongs to a friend of Motoring Research who has bought a Model 3 with his own money. Also, he’s located in California, so we haven’t even physically seen it.

We’ll relay his experiences – positive and negative – of buying and running a Model 3. The volume and intensity of the conversation surrounding Elon Musk and Tesla is fairly steep. As such, a no-nonsense running report on this market disruptor seems timely, and hopefully useful.

Tesla Model 3

Our friend was UK-based, but emigrated to the US for work. He had a passing interest in electric cars without ever owning one, so buying brand-new is no small commitment.

Importantly, he’s not a motoring journalist, so can offer a different (dare we say more realistic?) perspective. Don’t expect stories of measuring panel gapsor calling the press office about problems – although the quality of the Model 3 is something we’ll be asking about.

This is a real consumer giving his verdict on his new car. Whatever comes of it, we hope to provide a unique insight into the love-or-loathe world of Tesla via its most important car to date – the Model 3.

Excited to take delivery

Tesla Model 3

The car was ordered on the 10th of September and delivered on the 14th, although we suspect it wasn’t built within those four days. Tesla’s US website site says typical order-to-delivery time is ‘within four weeks’ so it seems he bought an existing car.

Delivery time for the dual-motor all-wheel-drive model was quoted as three months. Our friend was a bit impatient and thus opted for rear-wheel drive. His Model 3 is the long-range version with Sport wheels in Midnight Silver.

On paper, figures for the Model 3 look impressive: a 310-mile range, 5.1 seconds to 60mph and 140mph flat-out. We’ll report back on how it fares in the real world, with a particular emphasis, we expect, on that range figure.

For now, we can confirm the feeling of anxiety upon ordering was fast replaced with excitement, especially when a box with the key inside landed in his possession. First impressions and driving updates will follow soon…


Update 2: quality woes?

Remembering we’re trying to be impartial and stand aside from internet-wide Tesla hysteria here, the initial news isn’t good. The car arrived – brand new – with a dent in the door. Our friend accepted the car on the condition that it was repaired for free, a courtesy car was provided and that he got a year of free Supercharger access. Remember, the Model 3 doesn’t usually get free juice like the Model S and X do.

Tesla Model 3

On the one hand, you expect a new car to be of a condition and quality that can’t be questioned. On the other, the compensation seems adequate. Our friend says that, other than the dent, quality is absolutely fine. The panels all fit correctly, there’s no peeling rubber, no mismatched interior trim or any other such blunders.

What many decide to forget when ranting about Tesla is that most car manufacturers have experienced and continue to experience quality control issues. Clichés don’t materialise out of thin air – car buyers have decades-long experience of continuous mis-steps in quality from certain manufacturers.

Learning curve

Where you can legitimately critique this car is with regard to something all buyers will face: the learning curve. If the future is now, it shouldn’t be intimidating. Teslas represent the future but they’re also cars we’re being asked to buy now.

In terms of aesthetics, Tesla has nailed this. All of these cars are attractive in very contemporary sense. Generic and sleek rather than edgy and weird. Upmarket rather than prop-reject from a sci-fi film set.

Inside, however, it’s a different story. Yes, it’s very attractive, but almost everything is digitally controlled. How does this work in real life? Our friend needed a few minutes to work out how to roll down the windows and even get the passenger door open. It’s all stuff you get around within minutes. An hour of sitting in it and familiarising yourself goes a long way, as it turns out. Nevertheless, some of the more change-resistant among us might jump in one to try it and be instantly put off.

Some of the futuristic toys are, of course, absolutely superb. Checking on and controlling the car via the Tesla app is a revelation. “I just cooled the inside of my car from 100F to 75F.  Remotely,” our friend brags.

Tesla Model 3

Torquing tough

Where better to give your Tesla its first proper run than Highway One? This is an aspect of the future we’re all happy to get on board with, and our friend was bowled over by the Model 3’s performance. “The torque at 50mph feels like pulling from standstill. It’s exhilarating”. “You’re going to break my neck” was one comment he received from his passenger.

It impresses in the turns, too – a good job given this is touted as a small executive car above all else. “The centre of gravity feels low like you’d expect. Very stable in corners”. That’s the benefit of much of the drivetrain weight sitting comfortably below the door handles.

In terms of braking, our friend was oddly comfortable with the idea of simply letting off the throttle. The Tesla Model 3, like many EVs and hybrids, has regenerative braking. Off-throttle, the motion of the car is translated back into electrical energy via the motors, with a side-effect of the car slowing down.

Home on the range

With a good part of a day spent driving and, shall we say, ‘testing’ the car, you might have expected the range to take a significant hit. Our friend charged the car to 90 percent the day before, with a view to taking it for a good run, after which it went from 90 percent to 66 percent charge. Apparently, the estimations of remaining range hold true, too: a solid 270 miles to a charge. What range anxiety?

Charging is something of another story. Unless you’re Supercharging, you need to commit extended periods of time to juicing up. “The phone app shows the time to charge 90 percent. It arrived with 40 percent charge and will take six hours to refuel,” was one comment.

There’s more to come soon on the day-to-day of running a new Tesla Model 3. We don’t think the honeymoon period will pass for a while yet…

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Tesla Model S grille

Tesla calls reliability survey ‘statistically meaningless’


Tesla has responded to news its Model S has come bottom of a major 2018 car reliability survey – by calling the results ‘statistically meaningless’. What Car?, which carried out the survey, has since countered Tesla’s claim (see below), arguing its survey was “more than representative of Tesla’s real-world presence”.

The What Car? reader reliability survey allows owners to contribute their experiences with their cars for a wider collation of consumer experience. This year, more than 18,000 motorists responded.

The long-serving Model S was by far the worst performer, with a reliability rating of just 50.9 percent. The next ‘worst’ car above the bottom-rung Tesla was the Range Rover, at 67.3 percent. That’s 16.4 percentage points above the Model S.

Tesla Model S

‘This survey is statistically meaningless’

Only 28 Model S owners responded out of a total of 18,000 car owners surveyed by What Car?” said a Tesla spokesperson. “That’s less than 0.3 percent of UK Tesla owners, so this survey is statistically meaningless.

The results of this survey are also at odds not only with our internal figures showing customer satisfaction scores for Model S and X at well over 90 percent, but with statistically valid surveys like our Net Promotor Score and Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey, which we’ve topped every year since 2013.

90% of Tesla owners saying they would buy the same car again – more than any other brand.

Tesla Model S grille

We are committed to making the world’s best cars, and in order to ensure the highest quality, we review every vehicle for even the smallest refinement before it leaves the factory.

To the extent repairs are needed, the majority of work carried out on cars up to 4 years old is done under warranty and free of charge to the customer while they are supplied with a courtesy car.

Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla repairs can also be carried out in a customer’s driveway or office by mobile service, or even via over-the-air updates, to minimise any disruption.”


The Motoring Research view

That such a small portion of the UK Tesla customer base took part in the survey is interesting. Technically, it’s not very telling of the experiences of all UK Tesla owners.

That said, what could have prompted such a poor score from this small cross section? Do they have a grudge to bear? Would the result have been echoed by other owners?

What we can note is that this isn’t Tesla’s first disappointing performance in the survey. The marque came 30th out of 32 in the reliability by marque survey last year, at 52.4 percent.

What constitutes “unreliable” is an interesting question too. Where a conventional-fuel car developing a misfire would be considered a problem, so too could a screen freeze and forced reboot on a Model S. Concerning results and burning questions – that’s what we take from all of this.

Update: What Car? responds

What Car? has responded to Tesla’s statement. “Tesla owners represented 0.19 percent of what was a very robust total sample of 18,000 UK car owners in the What Car? survey,” said the motoring magazine.

“Compared with Tesla’s actual UK market share of 0.11 percent (according to official figures obtained from the DVLA), this means that the What Car? Study was more than representative of Tesla’s real-world presence in the British car parc.

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