Florida highways were gridlocked on Friday as close to 6 million drivers headed north to escape Hurricane Irma.
It was a taxing experience for drivers in traditional gas-powered vehicles who experienced hours-long lines at gas stations. But it was also a stressful experience for electric-car owners who were worried about running out of juice before making the escape.
Tesla was able to assist some customers in the storm’s path.
Tesla previously sold Model S and Model X vehicles with a 75-kWh battery pack, but gave owners the option to only purchase 60kWh or 70kWh of energy. That way, owners could buy a cheaper vehicle, but pay for the extra range at a later date. Like all vehicle upgrades, Tesla can push through the extra range via a software update.
One customer asked Tesla for access to the software upgrade so he could evacuate easier, a Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider. Now all Tesla owners in the hurricane’s path can get the update for free until September 16.
The update releases an extra 30 to 40 miles of range, Electrek reported. It can cost between $US4,500 to $US9,000, depending on the vehicle model.
It was a nice gesture from Tesla that also highlights the biggest issue with electric cars. Most vehicles have yet to achieve a range that people are comfortable with, a problem that faces greater scrutiny in emergency situations.
Tesla no longers sells the base Model S and Model X vehicles, so future buyers have to settle on a range they’re comfortable with and pay accordingly going forward.
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