First, we have to start off with the positive here, as this isn't Tesla deprecating older vehicles. It's due to AT&T turning off their 3G network, which Tesla uses.
Huge props to Tesla for maintaining cars for so long. Unlike many other tech companies, they don't add vehicles to a vintage or obsolete list. Tesla still delivers updates to the original 2012 Model S cars today. For free. 9 years later.
And support isn't ending yet. Tesla will continue to support these vehicles with software updates over WiFi.
There's no other manufacturer on Earth that would do that. We as consumers are always pushed to the newest models. Not always because of hardware advancements, but because manufacturers often only make new features available on new models.
The reason some older Teslas are losing cellular connectivity isn't any fault of Tesla's. It's a matter of technology just moving on. In the US, all Teslas connect to AT&T's cellular network. It has been this way since the original 2012 Model S. Back then 3G provided some of the fastest speeds over cellular and most cellular connected devices used 3G modems, including the modem in early Teslas.
Unfortunately, starting in February next year, AT&T is turning off their 3G service across the country. Cellular data will only be available on LTE and 5G.
This problem isn't unique to Tesla. Any device unitizing AT&T's 3G network will fail to connect come next year. This includes other devices like older cell phones and cellular iPads.
An always available data connection is one of the big reasons Teslas are popular and exciting. You can stream music, browse the web, turn on your climate remotely and receive real-time traffic. It'll even notify you if any doors or windows are left open. So when this connection goes away, it does take away part of the appeal the car initially had.
Luckily for owners, Tesla is giving owners plenty of options here, some free, some not so free, but a good value nonetheless.
Connect Via WiFi
First, your car will not be obsolete, Tesla will continue to provide updates to your vehicle. The cellular modem may be outdated and unable to connect, but your car will still be able to connect via WiFi to your local network.
All the functions your car was able to perform over it's cellular network will still be able over Wi-Fi, which includes downloading software updates. Of course, WiFi doesn't do you much good if you want to stream music while driving.
Connect Via Hotspot
With software update 2020.48.37.8, Tesla added some new capabilities to help with this transition and give owners more choice. Teslas normally turn off WiFi once you shift into Drive or Reverse, since it's no longer needed. However, with this update, Tesla introduced 'Remain Connected to Wi-Fi in Drive', a mouthful of a name, but a great feature. This allows your car to keep WiFi on after shifting into Drive. This will allow owners to share their phone's data connection with the car via a hotspot.
Using a hotspot connection will give your Tesla the same capabilities it had when connecting over a cellular network since these cars have a lifetime subscription to Tesla's Premium Connectivity package. Even though you'll be using a hotspot to connect, you'll remain with access to satellite-view and traffic visualization, which is normally not available when using a hotspot (when you're not subscribed to Tesla's Premium Connectivity).
Since it's only the cellular modem that is outdated, Tesla will be offering an option to get it replaced with a LTE and presumably 5G capable modem, giving your car many more years of a cellular connection, which is likely to outlast the car.
Tesla will be offering the cellular modem replacement for a very reasonable fee of $200 in the US.
Lastly, there is another option that Tesla is offering that will give you more than just a modern modem. You'll be able to upgrade the MCU in the vehicle and not only upgrade the cellular modem, but also the WiFi chip, and the processor that powers the media center.
At this point, technology has evolved quite a bit and using the touch screen on a MCU 1 vehicle has become quite slow. Upgrading the MCU will provide a much better experience on par with the latest Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.
Upgrading to MCU 2 will also bring a slew of new features that haven't been available in MCU 1 vehicles because of its limited processing power. Adding the MCU 2 introduces features such as Tesla theater, many games such as Sky Force Reloaded and Cuphead, improved driving visualizations, Tesla Caraoke, an improved web browser and more.
The price of upgrading your MCU is quite a bit more expensive, but you do get a whole lot more as well. Although all the new features are nice, the biggest is the improved performance and responsiveness of the touch screen.
The cost to upgrade the MCU to MCU 2 is $2,000, which includes parts and labor.
Which Cars are Affected?
Only vehicles equipped with a cellular modem that is only capable of a 3G connection are affected. If your vehicle has an LTE or LTE and 5G modem, then you remain unaffected. Tesla used 3G-only modems up until 2015.
If your Tesla was built before June 2015 and you haven't upgraded your MCU, then you may be affected. You can reach out to your local service center to confirm whether AT&T's decision to disable its 3G network will affect your vehicle.
View Your Cellular Modem
In update 2020.48.37.8 Tesla is also displaying additional information about your car's modem to you. If you navigate to Controls > Software and tap 'Additional Vehicle Information', your car will now display what kind of modem your car has installed and which cellular networks it's able to connect to.
We hope this will be a feature that will be rolled out to other vehicles as well. Some vehicles feature LTE only modems, while others contain 5G modems as well. Letting owners know which modem is in their vehicle and which networks it can connect to is a worthwhile addition.
Tesla is a regular in the news cycle; if it's not about the vehicle, it's about the CEO. It's no secret Tesla stock is down, and investors who are long on the stock have lost a considerable amount over the past month. One of those investors is Gary Black, the Future Fund managing partner, who said in August that Tesla is the fund's largest position. Black is calling on Tesla to hire a public relations department to inform the media and the public of the positives around the brand.
Oddly enough, at the shareholders' event in August, Black said, "the thing we worry about most is not PR; it's succession." Now it seems that is what Black is worried about. He recently tweeted: People can't complain about the media if TSLA refuses to correct articles that are wrong, or worse, won't maintain relationships with TSLA beat reporters and editors so they can get TSLA's POV out when needed. Strong PR will be needed to sell FSD safety. Think long-term.
Black's stance may be understandable to some, especially those who have watched their trading account shrink, but it's implausible because Tesla doesn't need a PR department.
Musk and the Mainstream Media Don't Mix
Musk is currently using his new company to hold mainstream media accountable. In case you missed it, he's releasing the Twitter Files, a detailed report backed up with real emails to show suppression of true stories.
The Tesla CEO also regularly calls out media outlets for false stories, misleading headlines and biased reporting. Musk will not hire a team to try to steer newsrooms, something he has so little respect for, and it's unlikely legacy media outlets will listen.
Media Biased Against Tesla
Bad news generates more views and clicks and keeps the advertisers paying. Even when the news isn't bad, take, for example, a recent Reliability Report by Consumer Reports. Most, if not all, mainstream media declared Tesla as the terrible one, even though Tesla moved up four spots from the previous year. It was hard to find a mention of the manufacturers that scored less. Those included Chevrolet, GMC, Volkswagen, Jeep, and Mercedes Benz. Yes, the expensive luxury brand was dead last in reliability. That is a story.
Reporters also picked up that electric vehicles scored low for reliability. Consumer Reports said it was because EVs are new on the market. However, scoring even lower were full-sized pickups. Those have been on the market for quite a bit longer.
Tesla, which also has not spent a dime on advertising, disbanded its public relations department in 2020. That's unheard of by a company its size, especially in the automotive sector. However, Tesla and Elon have something much better — you are reading it right now. Not a Tesla App is one of several blog sites that publish news about Tesla daily. Many of these websites have writers who own Teslas. The stories are much more accurate, positive and just plain better than anything readers will find in the mainstream. Who says bias must be negative?
Word of Mouth Advertising
Now add hundreds, maybe even thousands of loyal enthusiasts who defend and promote Tesla on social media platforms. Next, throw into the mix the hundreds of thousands of Tesla owners who quite often are spokespeople for the company whenever they get out of the car. I've been sure to add 10 minutes of travel time to my drives because I'm likely to get asked some questions at the grocery store or car wash.
This kind of advertising money cannot buy, and it's the kind of positive publicity media will not share. So while Black's concerns are legitimate, a PR department is not the solution. Instead, Tesla needs to keep doing what it's been doing and let the product, its fans and the Tesla-inspired websites do the rest.
Tesla is getting ready to introduce WiFi garage door support to their vehicles through MyQ.
Since our article yesterday additional details have emerged about how MyQ will operate, which vehicles will be supported and whether there will be a cost to use the service. This information is based on a page that appeared briefly on MyQ's website but has since been removed.
MyQ's website stated that support for their garage door openers would be coming to the Model 3 and Model Y. While this makes a lot of sense because those vehicles don't include a HomeLink module, we'd be surprised if Tesla didn't also add support for the Model S and Model X.
Let's get cost out of the way. Although MyQ does not charge a fee today to remotely open and close their garage doors, they do plan on charging a fee to use their devices in vehicles. This could be looked at similarly to how some services are free to use on a PC but require a subscription to use on your mobile phone.
The price posted on MyQ's website was a five-year plan for $179, which is still cheaper than Tesla's $350 installation cost for HomeLink.
Unfortunately, this removes a big benefit we thought MyQ would have over buying a HomeLink module for the Model 3 or Model Y. For Model S and Model X owners who already have HomeLink included in their vehicles, it may not make as much sense.
However, MyQ does provide some advantages over HomeLink.
The good news is that MyQ integration will be very similar to HomeLink, and better in some ways. What appears to be a rendering of the feature working in a Tesla was also posted to their website which shows off a screen very similar to HomeLink.
On the MyQ settings screen, you'll have a list of supported devices on the left side, such as garage doors, gates and possibly lights, but we haven't see any evidence of the latter yet.
On the right side, you'll see options pertaining to the device selected, such as its current state, whether the garage door should auto-open or close and the distance when the device should be triggered.
You'll also be able to have the vehicle fold in its mirrors when reaching the target location.
If you've used HomeLink, this should all look very familiar since it's almost exactly the same. However, there are a couple of differences that give the advantage to MyQ.
The first is that MyQ is a smarter system and it knows the state of your garage door. So if you're arriving home and the garage door is already open, it won't try to close it on you.
The other advantage is distance. Since MyQ works over the internet you'll be able to trigger the garage door or gate from further down the driveway, giving the door plenty of time to fully open before you arrive.
MyQ supports an array of devices, but it waits to be seen whether there will be support for these additional devices such as lights and door locks.
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