Back in April, a reader told us he could see his car with his Tesla app. The extraordinary part is that he lives in Seattle, and his Model 3, totaled in November 2019, was driving in Ukraine. I ended up not writing that story because it was a unique situation. Curiously, the Tesla app got back in the limelight due to events in China and the UK. This time, drivers could see cars that had nothing to do with theirs – for no apparent reason.
The first case emerged in China. The Twitter user Stultus shared a story from Weibo that said a driver in that country suddenly ceased to see his car in the app. Also unexpectedly, it started to show five cars he had never seen before. The story brings screenshots of his Tesla app, and we can see all EVs, which are reportedly from Europe. The names of the cars almost confirm that, such as "Andrea's Tesla," "Tesso," and "Sven's Car." Apart from Andrea's Tesla, all other vehicles seem to be black Model 3 units, as the name "DarthVader" suggests.
When Stultus shared that, RS replied saying his car had the same issue. He is from the UK and asked us to preserve his identity. He told us the whole story:
“I got my car on March 16. I’m in the UK and the Model 3 is a company car through a business lease company. At some point on the week commencing on March 23, the car disappeared from my account in the app and I could no longer use that to control it. I called Tesla a few days later. They advised that it was probably a bug and to wait a couple more days. I waited over the weekend and on March 30 I spoke to another Tesla employee, who asked me to verify the VIN on the car to make sure I was the owner/keeper.
I gave out the VIN over the phone, and the Tesla employee confirmed the name associated with the VIN. But it wasn’t my name. It was another R, but not RS. As he read the name out, I actually recognized him. It's someone who works for the same company as me here in the UK, but they live more than 300 miles away and work at a different office. I have never met or spoke with this person prior.”
That was when RS discovered his car was on that co-worker's app.
“Ultimately, I spoke with the other person and he had two cars accessible on his account, his own car, and mine. He was able to issue basic tasks/control my car remotely and see where it was geographically.
It still took Tesla a couple of weeks to sort that out and no real justification or explanation as to where the error was given. Obviously, they had mishandled some registration data somewhere and associated/reassigned the car to the wrong person without any verification/validation.
Some might say it’s not so serious as the other person worked for the same company as me, but ultimately I didn't know that person. And that person could still see personal information as to where I parked my car (my home address).”
What about the Chinese Tesla owner who could see five other cars, even if in Europe? It would be useful to get in touch with him or with the Tesla owners in Europe that were affected. In case our Chinese readers can help us discover who he is, as well as put us in touch with him, that would be a precious help.
Whatever the issue was and how many people it affected, the situations have seemingly occurred at different times, which implies it is repeating. It may also indicate that the Tesla app uses the same servers for all clients all over the world. And that they are interconnected, which could explain why someone in China could see cars in Europe.
Although Stultus seems to be a Tesla critic, RS is a happy Tesla Model 3 owner that just got confused with the entire situation – which Tesla did not clarify, by the way.
“I asked for one in my initial support request, but other than updating me to tell me it was fixed, they never formally responded with the circumstances.”
If more people besides him and the Chinese driver had the same issue, we might be in front of another data problem with Tesla. Perhaps even more severe than that with discarded computers.
As usual, we have sent Tesla some questions about what caused this glitch, but we lost any hope to get replies long ago. Even if the company surprises us, we would like to know if other owners experienced a similar situation and, most importantly, when. Please get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org or our Facebook page if you have anything to add to this story.