Tesla Boosted The Range of Cars in Hurricane Irma's Path

Helping drivers flee Irma, Tesla reportedly issues remote upgrade to boost battery power

Due to the risky situation hitting the American Southeast, Tesla sent out an over the air update to help drivers of their cars escape Hurricane Irma as it hit the southern part of the Florida and began heading north.

Batteries in Tesla's Model S and Model X cars marketed for 60 kilowatt-hours have an actual power of 75 kWh that can be unlocked on the software end, according to a story published Saturday in TechCrunch. For those unfamiliar, Tesla used to offer customers the option to buy a vehicle with a 75 kWh battery pack that was software locked.

Tesla's free remote unlock of this extra range for owners in the path of Irma gave them an additional 30 to 40 miles (50 to 60 km) of range to aid in their getting out of the hurricane's way.

Tesla has increased the maximum range of its Model S and Model X 60/60D vehicles.

The larger battery was once a $9,000 (£7,000) upgrade, although prices have been halved since, and Tesla has temporarily unlocked the optional add-on for free.

Tesla's update highlights the blurring of products and services. But for Tesla, managing variations using software makes sense, given that the company sells only three vehicles now.

That Tesla can update its auto software on-the-fly is not news, but this is the first time the company had done so to help people in an emergency. On Sunday, CNN reported long lines and gas outages at some gas stations in Florida; Tesla's Supercharger network appears to be largely unaffected at the time of writing.

About 6.3 million people were in mandatory evacuation zones, according to the state's division of emergency management.