Tesla Motors is rolling out software version 6.0 for its Model S sedan that makes it smarter. The new update adds traffic-based navigation and calendar synchronization functions, which are currently in beta, as well as commute advice, remote start, location-based air suspension, power management options and even the ability to name your car.
Traffic-based navigation uses real-time traffic information to recommend the quickest route and dynamically adjust your route according to changing traffic conditions. It even takes traffic information from other Tesla drivers on the road, which is mildly disturbing for those that want absolute privacy and not have their vehicle location constantly broadcasted to Tesla.
Commute advice works similarly to traffic-based navigation but learns daily commute routes and schedules to alert the driver of quicker routes before departing. From our experience with SiriusXM NavTraffic and RDS traffic information services, you’re better off sitting in traffic than trying to find a detour through town during rush hour traffic. However, the feature is quite useful if there’s a random accident or other congestion unrelated to the usual 9-5 commute.
Calendar integration should be helpful for those that spend a lot of time in their cars and have busy schedules. It syncs with your smartphone and uses the larger infotainment display to show your schedule and ultimately lets you route to the destination if one is programmed into the calendar.
Remote start is fairly standard on petrol vehicles with automatic transmissions nowadays, but typical systems don’t let you drive the car away when it’s started via the function. Tesla’s implementation of remote start lets you start the Model S via a smartphone app and drive the car even when you don’t have the key fob with you. Unfortunately, it also requires the driver to input the password every time. It's not quite a replacement for the tried and true key fob.
We love air-suspension systems on luxury vehicles, and the latest v6.0 update should make the Tesla Model S suspension system smarter. When a driver raises the suspension on the Model S, the vehicle remembers the GPS location and automatically raises the suspension when it revisits that location. This feature should be very useful for those who have steep driveways or have to drive through poorly maintained roads and could use an extra bit of ground clearance without having to manually raise the car every time.
Driver’s that don’t plug in their Model S every night will appreciate the new power management options that put the car into a more efficient energy saving mode at night. This helps conserve every ounce of energy and essentially puts the car to sleep. There’s even an option to turn off the mobile data connection to conserve even more power.
The Tesla Model S v6.0 software is currently rolling out to Tesla vehicles over the air, and drivers should receive it soon if they haven’t already.
Tesla’s PC-like approach to automotive is quite interesting, and it's a welcome change from the traditional "you’re stuck with what you buy" mentality of typical vehicles. Although we’re not fond of issuing software updates to fix vehicular updates after purchase, Tesla’s OTA distribution model ensures every vehicle gets the update so owners don't have to rely on dealers (or themselves) for technical service bulletins.