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(Quartz)   Tesla: We meant to do that   ( qz.com) divider line
    More: Followup, Tesla, Pricing, Wealth, Marketing, poorer consumers, intentionally limited version, 75-kilowatt version cost, economist Alex Tabarrok  
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2672 clicks; posted to Business » on 13 Sep 2017 at 6:20 PM (12 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



24 Comments     (+0 »)
 
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2017-09-13 01:56:34 PM  
Ugh.

Yeah, same thing for home internet speeds. A faster connection to your house doesn't cost them a cent more to operate.

I don't like price descrimination, but it's OK I guess if the company is honest about it.

That said, Tesla probably shouldn't be doing this. For one thing, 230 miles is a VERY sucky range.  I see a 200 mile range car as a cripple.  I also suspect those numbers aren't so high in real world use anyway. Shiatty range is their biggest enemy already-- and they're making it worse!

This action is also a blunt reminder that Tesla is one successful hacker attack away from having every single car they made remotely shut down. Or launched forward at full acceleration with brakes disabled.
 
2017-09-13 02:40:17 PM  

Riche: This action is also a blunt reminder that Tesla is one successful hacker attack away from having every single car they made remotely shut down. Or launched forward at full acceleration with brakes disabled.


You can bet that software is checksummed to death, with checksums on the checksums.  Disabling the vehicle should be entirely possible, though.
 
2017-09-13 03:56:30 PM  
Network equipment manufacturers have been doing this for a decade or more.

The hardware is cheap and you can buy different software versions that enable different speeds, number of connections, etc.
 
2017-09-13 04:27:03 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: Riche: This action is also a blunt reminder that Tesla is one successful hacker attack away from having every single car they made remotely shut down. Or launched forward at full acceleration with brakes disabled.

You can bet that software is checksummed to death, with checksums on the checksums.  Disabling the vehicle should be entirely possible, though.


The call is coming from inside your house!!!
 
2017-09-13 05:21:13 PM  

Eddie Adams from Torrance: Network equipment manufacturers have been doing this for a decade or more.

The hardware is cheap and you can buy different software versions that enable different speeds, number of connections, etc.


Software manufacturers as well, but one can argue that the more features you enable, more support is necessary.  So you have to pay for that support.

As well, many software manufacturers offer dirt-cheap, feature-crippled versions of their software with limited, self-service, or no support.  I think that's fair.

What Tesla is doing, I am not sure if it is analogous to this.  But I've been building software for decades, and the reasons for offering different versions- even though it's really just a bunch of code determining which features are available in each version- are not just for pricing shenanigans.  There is a cost associated with supporting the higher-levels of a piece of software.  I assume the same with networking/IT hardware as well.
 
2017-09-13 06:25:12 PM  
Processor manufacturers* have been doing this for years. They test the first batch of processors at the highest speed they want to sell, and box up the ones that pass. Then they take the ones that didn't pass, add them to the next batch at a slower speed, and do the same thing all the way down to the slowest speed, at which time they box up everything that passes at the slowest speed. What this means is that most processors at the slowest speed can easily run at the highest speed (if not higher), so the manufacturer "locks" the processor so that it can't be overclocked.

Of course, the processor is usually locked in at the bus multiplier, but many motherboards allow for overclocking the bus, so you can still squeeze faster processing  out of the chip. But it just doesn't make logical and efficient sense to intentionally cripple your own product that cost the same as a higher-priced one to manufacture.

It only makes sense in a capitalist society.

*Intel so much more than AMD
 
2017-09-13 06:31:12 PM  
Hearing aids are another example. It's a lot cheaper for everyone if the manufacturer only has to produce a single hardware design and then charges extra for as-needed firmware upgrades.
 
2017-09-13 06:34:04 PM  
This isn't even all that accurate.

They did this for around 100 cars if I recall correctly. Basically they discontinued the 60kw pack while they still had pending orders. So rather than make more packs to finish off the line they sold 75kw packs software locked as to not piss off the customers a that paid for 75kw batteries by giving free upgrades. They also justified this by allowing the customers purchase the software unlock after the fact if they want.

So no. You can't buy a software locked batter now. It was a limited time thing while they phased out the smaller battery.
 
2017-09-13 07:01:06 PM  

Eddie Adams from Torrance: Network equipment manufacturers have been doing this for a decade or more.

The hardware is cheap and you can buy different software versions that enable different speeds, number of connections, etc.


The manufacturing industry has been doing this for a while.  You buy a PLC, but you license the software based on the number of connection points or drives the PLC will be addressing.  Want to go from 16 network connections to 17?  That will be another $1,000 license key.
 
2017-09-13 07:28:25 PM  
With modern lithium batteries, doesn't charging them to 100% and leaving them there reduce the battery lifespan, especially in a hot climate?

I know the conventional wisdom is that if you are going to store a device with a lithium battery for an extended period, you should run the battery down below 50% first.
 
2017-09-13 07:47:02 PM  
Yes, they did mean to do that.  They even told you that they were doing it on the site for the Model S.  IIRC, it even told you why they were doing it.
 
2017-09-13 09:08:34 PM  
If you want a similarly hilarious-sad software lock, the US version of the BMW i3 has its fuel tank capacity reduced by software.  The tank is the exact same physical tank they sell in Europe... but the US version of the car just won't ever burn the last gallon-and-a-half in it.

Software-restricted gas tank size.  Welcome to the future!
 
2017-09-13 09:27:31 PM  

raygundan: If you want a similarly hilarious-sad software lock, the US version of the BMW i3 has its fuel tank capacity reduced by software.  The tank is the exact same physical tank they sell in Europe... but the US version of the car just won't ever burn the last gallon-and-a-half in it.

Software-restricted gas tank size.  Welcome to the future!


Thank the US government for that. The EPA requires BEV to have a lower gasoline-powered range than on battery power. BMW is forced to cripple their product by government bureaucrats.
 
2017-09-13 09:50:49 PM  

mrmopar5287: raygundan: If you want a similarly hilarious-sad software lock, the US version of the BMW i3 has its fuel tank capacity reduced by software.  The tank is the exact same physical tank they sell in Europe... but the US version of the car just won't ever burn the last gallon-and-a-half in it.

Software-restricted gas tank size.  Welcome to the future!

Thank the US government for that. The EPA requires BEV to have a lower gasoline-powered range than on battery power. BMW is forced to cripple their product by government bureaucrats.


img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-09-13 10:04:55 PM  

ox45tallboy: Processor manufacturers* have been doing this for years. They test the first batch

I'm pretty sure the only Intel processor I've had that wasn't especially crippled was a celeron 300A (of course, that assumes I ran it at 450Hz like most buyers instead of the 300Mhz it was rated for.  And that was a long time ago.  PS: when AMD used to sell processors with less CPUs than it really built, they would let you try to turn them back on (it worked plenty of times).  The latest batch are sufficiently competitive that they all overclock, but none of them (so far) let you turn on disabled CPUs.

For car manufacturers, it typically costs more to *remove* options than to add them (leather is said to be the exception).  The cost in having the option to put in the more expensive option is typically more than any savings in deleting the expensive "option".  Expect this is true across the line for everything you can buy.

Probably the best example is Microsoft Windows, back when it came on a CD/DVD.  One disc, every option from el cheapo, to normal consumer, pro, kitchen sink, and server all on the same disc.  I think the license key determined which one you got.

This doesn't always work.  Google is letting me down, but some capitalist realized that it was cheaper to make all contact lens "long term" and then  sell the same thing as "daily disposable", "short term" , and "long term" lenses.  There was a big lawsuit and then disposable contact lenses got more expensive and  flimsier.
 
2017-09-13 10:10:55 PM  

common sense is an oxymoron: mrmopar5287: raygundan: If you want a similarly hilarious-sad software lock, the US version of the BMW i3 has its fuel tank capacity reduced by software.  The tank is the exact same physical tank they sell in Europe... but the US version of the car just won't ever burn the last gallon-and-a-half in it.

Software-restricted gas tank size.  Welcome to the future!

Thank the US government for that. The EPA requires BEV to have a lower gasoline-powered range than on battery power. BMW is forced to cripple their product by government bureaucrats.

[img.fark.net image 850x637]


Nah, it's an accurate statement. Either the battery range of the BMW i3 came out lower than expected in EPA testing, or the gasoline range came out higher than expected in EPA testing. Either way, BMW has to cripple the fuel tank capacity to sell the car in the USA.

Owners have software fixes they can make to remove that limitation.
 
2017-09-13 10:14:57 PM  

yet_another_wumpus: ox45tallboy: Processor manufacturers* have been doing this for years. They test the first batch
I'm pretty sure the only Intel processor I've had that wasn't especially crippled was a celeron 300A (of course, that assumes I ran it at 450Hz like most buyers instead of the 300Mhz it was rated for.  And that was a long time ago.  PS: when AMD used to sell processors with less CPUs than it really built, they would let you try to turn them back on (it worked plenty of times).  The latest batch are sufficiently competitive that they all overclock, but none of them (so far) let you turn on disabled CPUs.

For car manufacturers, it typically costs more to *remove* options than to add them (leather is said to be the exception).  The cost in having the option to put in the more expensive option is typically more than any savings in deleting the expensive "option".  Expect this is true across the line for everything you can buy.

Probably the best example is Microsoft Windows, back when it came on a CD/DVD.  One disc, every option from el cheapo, to normal consumer, pro, kitchen sink, and server all on the same disc.  I think the license key determined which one you got.

This doesn't always work.  Google is letting me down, but some capitalist realized that it was cheaper to make all contact lens "long term" and then  sell the same thing as "daily disposable", "short term" , and "long term" lenses.  There was a big lawsuit and then disposable contact lenses got more expensive and  flimsier.


So just turn the option on and split the difference in price.
 
2017-09-13 10:15:10 PM  

mrmopar5287: common sense is an oxymoron: mrmopar5287: raygundan: If you want a similarly hilarious-sad software lock, the US version of the BMW i3 has its fuel tank capacity reduced by software.  The tank is the exact same physical tank they sell in Europe... but the US version of the car just won't ever burn the last gallon-and-a-half in it.

Software-restricted gas tank size.  Welcome to the future!

Thank the US government for that. The EPA requires BEV to have a lower gasoline-powered range than on battery power. BMW is forced to cripple their product by government bureaucrats.

[img.fark.net image 850x637]

Nah, it's an accurate statement. Either the battery range of the BMW i3 came out lower than expected in EPA testing, or the gasoline range came out higher than expected in EPA testing. Either way, BMW has to cripple the fuel tank capacity to sell the car in the USA.

Owners have software fixes they can make to remove that limitation.


*checks Google*

...

Not sure who looks worse here: BMW, the EPA, or me.
 
2017-09-14 12:52:20 AM  

Eddie Adams from Torrance: Network equipment manufacturers have been doing this for a decade or more.  The hardware is cheap and you can buy different software versions that enable different speeds, number of connections, etc.


Yup.  The equipment I manage at work comes with a software license that enables features and controls the performance of the device.  People seem to be alright with unlocking extra features, since it takes more time and money to develop and support those extra features.  But when you start talking unlocking extra performance, people seem to unravel.

If there were some significant inefficiencies from carrying around all of that locked dead weight, I could see a reason for being pissed.  But according to Tesla, what you lose in range you make up for in battery longevity.  Turns out that repeatedly charging Li-Ion batteries to full capacity isn't good for them.  If you're price sensitive enough to not shell out for the extra capacity, you might also be price sensitive enough to not want to replace your battery pack as often.
 
2017-09-14 02:16:17 AM  

Marcus Aurelius: Riche: This action is also a blunt reminder that Tesla is one successful hacker attack away from having every single car they made remotely shut down. Or launched forward at full acceleration with brakes disabled.

You can bet that software is checksummed to death, with checksums on the checksums.  Disabling the vehicle should be entirely possible, though.


Sure, just change a bit on a key file to make the checksums no longer match. Bonus points if you nick the part of the code that allows you to upload recovery code
 
2017-09-14 07:41:27 AM  

BullBearMS: With modern lithium batteries, doesn't charging them to 100% and leaving them there reduce the battery lifespan, especially in a hot climate?

I know the conventional wisdom is that if you are going to store a device with a lithium battery for an extended period, you should run the battery down below 50% first.


 They aren't charged to 100% unless you specifically tell the car to charge to 100%. Standard charge for a Tesla battery is 90%. Software handles it but it can be overridden by the owner at will. However, the 60s that were really software limited 75s never hit full charge.

I have a strong dislike for the practice of limiting hardware like this but I'm not the one making the rules.
 
2017-09-14 02:14:10 PM  

mrmopar5287: The EPA requires BEV


I think BEVx is a CARB-specific qualification, not an EPA one.  There's also no requirement to certify a plug-in like that as a BEVx-- the PHEV category lets you make the tank as big as you want, like in a Chevy Volt.

BMW decided they wanted the extra incentive money that comes with the BEVx category (defined roughly as "the car can go as far on electricity as it can on a tank of gas") and decided they'd implement that by gimping the gas tank instead of making the battery larger.  They could have made the battery larger instead, or they could have just certified it as a PHEV and left it as-is.
 
2017-09-14 02:15:27 PM  
I work in IT, and I fully understand software throttling. My issue is with this line:

The answer: Limiting battery capacity actually makes Teslas more affordable.

No it doesn't. The cost to Tesla is identical. They're actually charging people without the switch $9000 for absolutely no reason other than 'fark you, that's why.'

Again, I understand the practice. I just have a problem with Tesla lying about it.
 
2017-09-14 04:59:16 PM  

Carousel Beast: I work in IT, and I fully understand software throttling. My issue is with this line:

The answer: Limiting battery capacity actually makes Teslas more affordable.

No it doesn't. The cost to Tesla is identical. They're actually charging people without the switch $9000 for absolutely no reason other than 'fark you, that's why.'

Again, I understand the practice. I just have a problem with Tesla lying about it.


Actually it makes perfect sense. Without something like this Tesla would likely be unable to offer the $9,000 lower price at all, or anything close to it. The 75kwh battery would only be offered at 75kwh and would likely come in somewhere in the middle of the difference between it and the 60kwh offering. Tesla likely assessed that that offering would result in lower overall sales of cars with that physical battery.
 
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