FIRST REVIEW: There's one critical problem with Tesla's new 'Summon' feature in Australia

Photo: Getty Images

Tesla’s Summon feature, which parks your car for you, has launched in Australia.

The over-the-air 7.1.1 update was rolled out at the weekend, alongside an update for the mobile app to control it.

While the feature has been in other markets since early January, Australian owners had to wait until the necessary regulatory requirements were sorted before it landed here.

Essentially, Summon builds upon the Model S’ Auto Pilot functions and will allow the owner to step out of their car and have it parked for them without assistance. At this stage, it’s only available for front-on spots and within 10 metres of the final spot.

It can also do the opposite and drive itself out of the spot.

While the car will detect walls and other cars, it may miss smaller objects like bikes, so you still will need to make sure your area is clear.

I was driving Tesla’s P90D over the weekend when the update came out, so naturally I gave it a go.

The first thing to know about the Australian version of Summon is that it can only be done via the phone, not through the key fob as in the US. Because of that, you need to make sure that where you’re parking has decent phone coverage, because the app and car talk over a mobile network, not through an ad-hoc connection.

I experienced this problem with my apartment car park, which can sometimes struggle for phone reception. I eventually got the two connected after a few goes, and when I tried it elsewhere it worked flawlessly.

Certainly not a lot of room. Especially when that pesky Kia parks close.

But after actually using it, I’m going to struggle parking a car without it.

My spot, as most apartment ones are, is extremely tight and depending on the size of the car I’m driving, I often have to jump out of the passenger seat to get out. Using Summon, I simply drove my car to the front of the spot, hopped out, pressed the button on the app and the car did the rest.

Likewise, when I wanted to get back in, I summoned it from the app out of the spot and jumped straight in. No jumping over seats required.

The feature itself certainly isn’t the sole reason to buy a Model S, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fantastic if you have a tight spot.

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