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Helping drivers flee Irma, Tesla reportedly issues remote upgrade to boost battery power

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2015 file photo, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., introduces the Model X car at the company's headquarters in Fremont, Calif. Tesla on Saturday reportedly issued a software upgrade boosting the battery life of some Model X and Model S cars in Florida to assist drivers as they evacuate from the path of Hurricane Irma.
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2015 file photo, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., introduces the Model X car at the company's headquarters in Fremont, Calif. Tesla on Saturday reportedly issued a software upgrade boosting the battery life of some Model X and Model S cars in Florida to assist drivers as they evacuate from the path of Hurricane Irma. AP

With the flip of a metaphorical switch, automaker Tesla has reportedly given a remote update to some of its vehicles in Florida, helping owners of the electric cars escape Hurricane Irma’s devastation on fewer battery charges.

After owners reported to having longer ranges than usual in their cars, a Tesla representative confirmed to green energy news site Electrek that this was a temporary, emergency measure put in place to aid those in Irma’s path, the 400-mile-wide hurricane that experts say could be zeroing in on Tampa.

Batteries in Tesla’s Model S and Model X cars marketed for 60 kilowatt-hours have an actual power of 75 kWh that can be unlocked on the software end, according to a story published Saturday in TechCrunch. Tesla appears to have done just that for Florida drivers in light of Irma.

The upgrade gives drivers a range boost of between 30 and 40 additional miles, Electrek reported.

According to Techcrunch, the emergency measure was first noticed by the Tesla community on Reddit early Saturday, in a thread asking, “Did Tesla just upgrade my 60D due to the hurricane?” Some in the thread called it a great public relations move; most called it a great idea.

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