The owner of a 2013 Tesla Model S 60 claims the automaker software-limited his car's battery remotely for no reason, which led to the EV losing some 80 miles (128 kilometers) of range.
According to a July 26 Twitter thread from Jason Hughes, the owner of a Tesla component business who says he confirmed the story with logs, the car in question, which has had three owners from new, was built from the factory with a 60 kWh pack.
However, Tesla replaced the battery under warranty years ago with a 90-kWh pack, likely because it had no 60-kWh packs available at that point, and allowed the owner at the time to make full use of the larger battery. Fast forward to the present and the current owner, who is a customer of Hughes' company, took his Model S to a Tesla service for a paid MCU2 infotainment system upgrade after the 3G service shut down across the US.
Everything went smoothly, except that later on, Tesla reps called the owner to let him know they found and fixed a configuration mistake with the car. They software-locked the car to be a 60 again, although the Model S had been a 90 for years—and Tesla itself had made it that way.
Understandably, the customer was furious for losing 80 miles of range, so he demanded Tesla to revert the car back to the way it was. Tesla's answer was quite shocking: the company asked $4,500 to unlock the battery. He obviously refused and contacted the EV maker several times since, but to no avail.
Ultimately, it was the massive traction gained by Jason Hughes' Twitter thread that turned the tide and made Tesla change its mind. In a tweet the following day, Hughes confirmed the customer had his Model S restored to 90 configuration, free of charge. And that's not all; the day after that, Tesla did the same thing for another owner in a similar situation.
While it's a good thing that Tesla righted a wrong—or two in this case—the fact remains that it refused to do so when approached through the usual channels that regular customers have at their disposal.
At least that's what the owner claims, and unfortunately we can't report Tesla's side to this story as the company does not have a public relations department. Furthermore, Elon Musk did not answer Hughes' questions about this case on Twitter. The key takeaway from this is that a customer should not have to resort to social media in the hope the story will go viral and thus convince Tesla to fix a mistake it made—and not charge a fee for that.