Elon Musk’s Tesla announced today that it would be discontinuing sales of its entry-level Model S vehicle given poor sales. Apparently only 4% of customers opted for the least-expensive 40 kWH version, which affords the smallest driving distance (160 miles between charges). Tesla will generously fill all undelivered 40 kWH orders with a 60 kWH battery package, but customers shouldn’t expect to take a leisurely 170 mile drive because the battery will be software-governed to perform like a 40 kWH battery. A software upgrade will be available to unleash the full 60 kWH capabilities, but it will run a cool $10,000, which is the difference in model price anyway.
Welcome to a world in which DRM and OEM-imposed limitations bleed into every corner of our lives. Tesla doesn’t owe anyone more than exactly what the contract stipulated, and the concept of OEM-control is not entirely new (e.g., your cable box since 1980), but it is troubling to see a company artificially diminish the capabilities of its product. The cause is not safety, or maintenance of product quality, but simply to deliver an exacting account of dollars and cents paid per value received.
Surely there would be some upset 60 kWH-buyers if