Tesla unveiled software upgrades that will include allowing drivers to go hands-free, about a year ahead of the competition. It also has a feature that wil warn Model S drivers before they run out of battery power. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Tesla is going hands-free in 3 months. The electric car maker will offer automatic steering on its S Model Sedan, about a year ahead of other automakers. The feature will only work on highways or other major roads. It's part of an over-the-air software upgrade the company announced on Thursday... meaning owners don't have to take the vehicle anywhere to get this. Reuters transportation editor Joe White: SOUNDBITE: JOE WHITE, REUTERS TRANSPORTATION EDITOR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the big message here is that Elon Musk and Tesla are really sort of pushing hard on over the air upgrades of this car. And these are ultimately not trivial features. Hands-free steering capability is not a trivial feature. And to be able to do this over the air without having to take the car back or make the customer wait until a next model comes out a year or two or three from now is really a big step. And other car makers are starting to do this, but I think Tesla is demonstrating that they are able to do this in a pretty sophisticated way." And as CEO Elon Musk had alluded to in his tweets- a new Range Assurance feature is coming. It will be out in about 10 days, and will warn Model S drivers before they run out of battery power. The feature will be bundled with a trip planner that will help owners map "optimal" travel routes. The latest version of the Model S has a range between charges of about 280 miles. And there are other features on the way- like a valet mode that limits vehicle speed and access to confidential information. Tesla shares had gone up when CEO Elon Must tweeted there would be a press conference- but fell on the actual news. S&P Capital IQ's Efraim Levy was underwhelmed: SOUNDBITE: EFRAIM LEVY, SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We have a hold opinion on the stock with a $200 target price so we are just a little above where it is right now. " The new software also will be installed in the new Model X crossover that goes into production this summer.