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Tesla demands $4,500 in ransom after locking consumers' battery range for 80 miles

By: April Carson

Tesla attempted to force a customer to pay $4,500 in ransom money after his battery pack was software-locked for 80 miles of range. After an outcry on social media, the manufacturer only began to back away from the strategy to extract $4,500 from its customers.

Tesla offered Model S cars with software-locked battery packs in the past. For example, Electrek's Seth Weintraub's first Tesla was a Model S 40, which was really a Model S with a 60 kWh battery pack locked at 40 kWh of capacity.

This was a solution to give different battery-pack sizes without requiring production to become more complicated.

This was back when Tesla didn’t offer the option to buy a smaller battery pack and then unlock more capacity later, which it does now. Instead, you had to buy the bigger battery pack and pay for the extra capacity upfront – even if you never used it – or never have the option to use it.

Tesla began to offer owners of software-locked vehicles the option to unlock the capacity for an extra fee a few years later. Tesla discontinued the practice over time, but it still used software-locked battery packs when replacing warranty batteries of particular capacities that it no longer produced.

The practice caused some controversy among owners, who felt that Tesla was artificially limiting the range of their vehicles and then charging them for the privilege of unlocking the full capacity.

This has resulted in a customer who Tesla has completely mishandled. Following his attempts to assist the client who purchased a used Model S 90 that was previously a Model S 60, Jason Hughes, an infamous Tesla hacker, exposed the problem.

Tesla received a complaint from the customer who was having trouble with his car's computer after trying to upgrade it at a Tesla service center. Because older Tesla vehicles only had 3G connectivity, which is being phased out, the consumer wanted to keep his vehicle connected to the Internet. After visiting a Tesla location, he was called by the automaker and informed that an error had been found in his car's configuration and that a correction would be applied.

Although Tesla has not released an official response to the incident, it seems that the problem was caused by a software error that prevented the car's computer from connecting to the internet after the upgrade.

The technician tried to restore his configuration to a Model S 60 and removed about 80 miles from the battery pack. The client attempted to explain the problem to Tesla but was told that he would have to pay $4,500 in order for it to be reactivated.

At that point, the client came to Hughes, who has previously been able to unlock Tesla vehicle software-locked capabilities. He was unable, however, to obtain a solution that would not create further problems.

Instead, he took the problem to social media, where it quickly went viral. Tesla only contacted the customer once the thread began to spread.

It appears that Tesla will restore the capacity to a 90 kWh battery pack for the customer.

The client is currently exploring other options, but it seems that Tesla's current policy is to not support Model S 60 vehicles that have been upgraded to a higher trim level. This policy may change in the future, but for now, it leaves Model S 60 owners in a difficult situation.

We hope that Tesla will reconsider their position and provide support for these individuals. Thank you for your time.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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