Tesla, based in Silicon Valley, has completed more than a dozen
over-the-air software upgrades since the Model S was first sold in
mid-2012, said Egil Juliussen, director of research for automotive
electronic technology for IHS Automotive.
Juliussen said other automakers have completed some over-the-air
software upgrades but only on an experimental basis.
Normally, when an automaker wants to upgrade software in on-board
computers in cars that are already on the road, owners must bring
vehicles to dealerships.
Tesla is able to upgrade software remotely, similar to software
updates on smartphones.
About 30,000 vehicles have been updated over the air this year,
almost all by Tesla. By 2020, a full one-fifth, or about 22 million
new vehicles globally, will have the ability to accept software
upgrades over-the-air, said Juliussen.
Juliussen said by 2015, over-the-air software upgrades to cars
already in consumer hands will expand to 230,000 and reach 1 million
"The cost savings alone will make it very attractive for the auto
manufacturers to use over-the-air software upgrades," said
Automakers are expected, he said, to team up with software
developers for over-the-air communication with the vehicles they
Three privately held software firms are in the lead in this venture,
he said. They are Red Bend Software, based in Waltham,
Massachusetts; Symphony Teleca Corp based in Silicon Valley; and
Arynga, based in San Diego.
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He said that it can cost $400 to $500 every time an owner brings a
car into a dealership for a software upgrade. Doing so remotely will
cut those costs dramatically, and dealers will not have to purchase
as much equipment, Juliussen said.
For the current upgrade, Tesla Model S owners will be notified of
the availability of it and will be asked to select a time for it to
be downloaded, which takes several hours, Tesla spokeswoman Alexis
Tesla, which connects to its cars through a 3G network of AT&T Inc,
is calling the latest upgrade announced on Friday "Software v6.0."
Tesla is rolling out the upgrades in North America and Europe now,
and within a few weeks will be performing them for owners in its
other markets, China, Hong Kong and Japan.
Among the new features being added in the current upgrade to the
Model S are traffic-based navigation and commuting advice and remote
starting by using a mobile phone.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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