Sentry Mode

Tesla 2019 OTA Updates Gave Unparalleled Owner Experience for $0


A recap of Tesla Over-the-Air (OTA) updates in 2019 was posted on Reddit at the beginning of 2020, and it showcased the unparalleled experience owners received from the EV automaker at absolutely zero cost. 

Last year was a big one for Tesla. Phase 1 of Giga Shanghai was completed and operational-enough to hold a ceremonial MIC Model 3 delivery event before the end of 2019, and these are but the tip of the iceberg. Tesla also sold the most Model 3 vehicles in Q4 2019, selling 50% more compared to the previous year. 

Indeed Tesla had quite an eventful 2019, from vehicle unveilings to the rollout of a custom full self-driving chip. However, among Tesla's achievements last year, the work it put into OTA updates over the year remained relatively underappreciated by those outside the Tesla community.


Credit: u/110110 /Reddit

2019's OTA updates brought never-before-seen features and capabilities to Tesla vehicles, truly earning the title "next-gen car." Reddit user u/110110 created a post about Tesla's accomplishments with its over-the-air Updates last year and thanked the team who worked on all of them. 

Among all the features and capabilities introduced last year, some of the more notable ones are as follows: 

  • Integrated dashcams
  • Improved Performance
  • Tesla Smart Summon
  • Sentry Mode
  • FSD Visualization Preview
  • Driving Visualization Improvements
  • Tesla Theater (Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, YouTube in the US)
  • Save Dashcam Clips to Honk
  • Voice Commands
  • Camp Mode
  • Navigate on Autopilot with Automatic Lane Changes 

The Reddit user mostly included features and capabilities introduced in Tesla OTA updates within the United States and Europe, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. 

Tesla would have adjusted some of its Navigate on Autopilot configurations for Europe alone. Besides certain specifications for Europe, however, Tesla also released specific features and capabilities that owners in China would appreciate.

Tesla Vehicle Updates - A 2019 Year in Review - Thank you Tesla Team! from r/teslamotors

Instead of YouTube, for instance, Baidu was installed in Tesla China cars. Tesla also released an air quality indicator for its customers in China. The feature told Chinese Tesla owners the air quality in the city they were currently in and the air quality of the destination they were going to as well.

Tesla's work in its OTA updates is so far unparalleled or incomparable to anything currently on the market. Legacy automakers and even new car companies trying to break into the industry have not really focused on over-the-air updates yet. Even if they do, as in the case of the Jaguar I-Pace, their attempt pales in comparison to Tesla's advancements in 2019 alone. 

There may be two reasons for Legacy automakers' seeming reluctance to introduce or attempt OTA updates to their vehicles. First, the OEMs don't really have the tech to do it and they are inexperienced with custom in-car software. Second, they don't understand the business model for OTA updates.

Tesla's software updates cost customers zero dollars even though they significantly improve the experience of owning the vehicle. Tesla's basically free software updates make sense or fit into the way the car industry functions today. Most of the money made out of cars come from upgrades, improvements, and repairs to the vehicle--even small software glitches that ICE cars experience.

But if these small software bugs and improvements can be made Over-the-Air for free, the traditional way of business in the car industry might falter. Luckily for Tesla, it has figured a new way to conduct business by functioning like a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company through in-app purchases and OTA fixes. Tesla's potential business as a SaaS company was discussed in a previous article

Special thanks to u/110110 from Reddit for such a great informational post about Tesla's achievements.

Featured Image Credit: Salomondrin/YouTube and u/110110 /Reddit

About the Author

Claribelle Deveza

Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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