Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC



  • On Thursday, Tesla Motors re-introduced the Model S60–a cheaper version of its all-electric sedan that was discontinued last April. The new S60 starts at $66,000 and has a range of about 208 miles. For $8,500 more, customers can choose an upgraded version, called the S75, which can travel about 40 more miles per charge, according to the company’s website.

    So the upgraded model has a bigger battery, right? Nope. The two versions of the car are identical and sport the same 75 kWh battery. The only difference is that the software on the lower-end version limits the capacity of the S60’s battery, crippling its range. In fact, owners can instantly transform a lowly S60 into an S75 at any time for a fee of $9,000 ($500 more than if they’d initially bought it that way). They don’t even have to bring the car to a service center. Tesla flips the software switch remotely.

    People bitched about it when EA was doing it and the upgrade cost $10, I wonder how they'll react with Tesla's doing it and the upgrade costs $9 grand.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @blakeyrat But... but... I still want a Tesla.


    Filed under: My heroes are all dead.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @blakeyrat said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    the software on the lower-end version limits the capacity of the S60’s battery

    :wtf:?

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised, the charging chip in this one device I have essentially lies about the battery capacity...



  • I remember hearing about some AMG mercedes having ECU limiters on engine torque that could be removed as an $X,000 option. In those situations, the aftermarket tends to step in to address the problem....


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    So I'm actually not against this. My guess is that Tesla ran the numbers and found that it was cheaper to produce one battery and limit it than it was to produce an actual lower kWh battery. It's similar to a CPU or GPU with some of the cores disabled, except that in those cases it's a physical restriction [and except for the fact that there's chip binning anyways]. The high-end consumer "subsidizes" the low-end guy. Only thing I'd be upset about is the $500 extra to afterwards activate it, but you know they have to or everyone'd buy the S60 and only upgrade when they need to, causing financial pain for Tesla.


  • Notification Spam Recipient

    I wonder how illegal it is to "pirate" this upgrade? It can't be that hard to reverse engineer it and sell your own patch for $8,000.

    This leaves just the issue of warranty. But maybe you can just "reflash" the previous firmware before sending it in for repair? And block the car from calling home to notify of potentially unauthorized modifications? It's going to be an endless game of cat and mouse just like software DRM and DRM cracks.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @anonymous234 said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    It can't be that hard to reverse engineer it.

    It's a flag in an encrypted XML file.



  • Do Teslas have the model number on the back? Would you legally be able to describe it as an S75 if you sold it?

    Either way, it seems a rather harsh price for 72km distance.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @coldandtired said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    72km distance.

    Agreed. Maybe if it were triple (or more!) that might be something, but that's way too high for such a low increase.

    Like if HDD manufacturers offered a firmware upgrade that unlocked reserved sectors on their disk.

    Yeah, if you pay $200, we'll unlock your drive and your 4 Tb drive will get an extra 2 Gb of space! Sounds great, right?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    Like if HDD manufacturers offered a firmware upgrade that unlocked reserved sectors on their disk.

    More likely with SSD manufacturers…


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    Like if HDD manufacturers offered a firmware upgrade that unlocked reserved sectors on their disk.

    Yeah, if you pay $200, we'll unlock your drive and your 4 Tb drive will get an extra 2 Gb of space! Sounds great, right?

    Shh. You'll give them ideas.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @anonymous234 DMCA fo sho. And a voided warranty.

    Which is a big deal for a car that is effectively unserviceable (yet) by anyone but the manufacturer.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @anonymous234
    That said, there is precedent. Engine tuning. ECUs basically all work on the concept of 'maps' - configurable 1/2/3/4/whatever dimensional arrays that amount to "For a given set of inputs, what should my output be on this channel". All tuning is is replacing those configuration maps with different ones to produce different outputs - more power, more economy, whatever.

    It's broadly a giant pain in the balls and requires the reverse engineering of individual ECUs (or at least families of them) to produce the software and hardware to do it. This is expensive - it's comparable in price for me to buy a whole aftermarket ECU versus buying the hardware and software to reprogram one - so it's pretty pointless unless you're a shop that's going to specialize in tuning a particular model. But, then, the factory ECU will pass emissions inspections and an aftermarket largely won't. But then, changing the maps on an emissions-controlled ECU is a federal crime, so there's a lot of handwavium about OFF-HIGHWAY CLOSED COURSE USE ONLY! And, for that matter, if the EPA feels like being dicks they have recently tried to imply that it's a federal crime for off-highway closed course use, too. And so is replacing it with an aftermarket one.

    Largely, because it's so relatively inaccessible, the manufacturers don't give a frig and have set up various schemes to count the number of times that maps have been written - if the number is anything other than the number of authorized changes through the warranty system (basically, previously-applied TSBs and recalls), they just won't warranty anything. I doubt Tesla would worry much about it as long as the people that do the reverse engineering remain as greedy as they traditionally have, and they keep it wrapped up in Motorsport trappings. They'll likely just deny warranties and software updates.



  • @Weng said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    But then, changing the maps on an emissions-controlled ECU is a federal crime, so there's a lot of handwavium about OFF-HIGHWAY CLOSED COURSE USE ONLY!

    Interesting. Does that imply that installing any supercharger/turbocharger system is 50-state illegal (since that requires different tables as compared to a NA setup), even if it has CARB certification?

    I would wonder then why people are so excited to get a performance tune as one of their first mods. If it's just as illegal, you might as well run long tubes or open headers while you're at it.



  • @anonymous234 said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    And block the car from calling home to notify of potentially unauthorized modifications?

    Based on the fact that they can apparently remotely upgrade you at any time... I'm betting they'd notice pretty quick. Even if your car just mysteriously dropped off the face of the planet... some red flags would be raised, I'd think.



  • @anotherusername said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    @anonymous234 said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    And block the car from calling home to notify of potentially unauthorized modifications?

    Based on the fact that they can apparently remotely upgrade you at any time... I'm betting they'd notice pretty quick. Even if your car just mysteriously dropped off the face of the planet... some red flags would be raised, I'd think.

    That's going to result in an arms race that will probably culminate in the AIM gambit: the updater will attempt to exploit an existing buffer overflow in the software to ensure the authenticity of the software.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Groaner Yes. If the EPA feels like being a total dickbag, anything that causes or could theoretically cause any deviation in the emissions output from factory is a 'defeat device' - even if it doesn't take it out of the compliance zone. The EPA is unlikely to come after individual owners anytime soon, so nobody really cares.

    It's been lassaiz-faire forever until earlier this year, the EPA decided to tweak regulations a bit. Buried deep in a regulation change for heavy trucks, they 'clarified' a piece of text to explicitly claim dominion over defeat devices intended strictly off-highway competition vehicles, specifically prohibiting the conversion of emissions-certified vehicles into competition-only vehicles, and making it illegal to sell any defeat devices.

    Someone noticed and the entire automotive aftermarket, and every racing sanction in the country screamed simultaneously.

    The EPA tried to backpedal with a halfassed "OH NO WE WON'T COME AFTER INDIVIDUAL OWNERS. We just want to clamp down on parts manufacturers. Besides, this stuff has always been illegal, we just haven't elected to enforce it. We're just clarifying the text."

    Congress screamed bloody murder, contacted the idiots who name legislation, got back "RPM Act!" and are currently chewing on passing it. Effectively, this amends the clean air act to specifically say "Except for vehicles permanently modified for off-highway competition. Dipshits." and "Congress meant this to be the case originally and this has always been the case."

    All of which still means that it's totally not cool to modify on-road vehicles in any meaningful way, or the EPA might arbitrarily decide in future to hate on you.



  • @Weng said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    @Groaner Yes. If the EPA feels like being a total dickbag, anything that causes or could theoretically cause any deviation in the emissions output from factory is a 'defeat device' - even if it doesn't take it out of the compliance zone. The EPA is unlikely to come after individual owners anytime soon, so nobody really cares.

    It's been lassaiz-faire forever until earlier this year, the EPA decided to tweak regulations a bit. Buried deep in a regulation change for heavy trucks, they 'clarified' a piece of text to explicitly claim dominion over defeat devices intended strictly off-highway competition vehicles, specifically prohibiting the conversion of emissions-certified vehicles into competition-only vehicles, and making it illegal to sell any defeat devices.

    Someone noticed and the entire automotive aftermarket, and every racing sanction in the country screamed simultaneously.

    The EPA tried to backpedal with a halfassed "OH NO WE WON'T COME AFTER INDIVIDUAL OWNERS. We just want to clamp down on parts manufacturers. Besides, this stuff has always been illegal, we just haven't elected to enforce it. We're just clarifying the text."

    Congress screamed bloody murder, contacted the idiots who name legislation, got back "RPM Act!" and are currently chewing on passing it. Effectively, this amends the clean air act to specifically say "Except for vehicles permanently modified for off-highway competition. Dipshits." and "Congress meant this to be the case originally and this has always been the case."

    All of which still means that it's totally not cool to modify on-road vehicles in any meaningful way, or the EPA might arbitrarily decide in future to hate on you.

    Ah, so it's in the "three felonies a day" category, pretty much what I was expecting. Even California, with the strictest emissions in the country, has a fairly large list of approved modifications. I'd also imagine that if the EPA started pursuing individuals, SEMA would become very interested in protecting poster children.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @anonymous234 said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    sell your own patch for $8,000.

    That's gonna be tough - obviously any form of advertising would be impossible, since it's certainly gonna be illegal to do that, so there wouldn't be much money in it (I mean, WOM is one thing, but even then you'll end up with an undercover or something asking for you to upgrade his Tesla sooner or later...)

    Home modifications, on the other hand, may be somewhat different


  • Notification Spam Recipient

    @sloosecannon said in Tesla's S60 Contains On-disk DLC:

    since it's certainly gonna be illegal to do that

    But is it? That's my point.

    You're not violating copyright or patents (unless they do some clever trick to require that), you're maybe violating the car's EULA when you do the reverse engineering part or some other laws that I don't know about.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @anonymous234 I'd think it would be running afoul of the anti-circumvention stuff in the DMCA at the very least...


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