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What, specifically, is the "unlimited supercharging" license tied to?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by robby, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. robby

    robby Member

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    Has Tesla ever made specific reference to what defines the end of "the life of the car"? Or put another way: has Tesla stated the circumstances under which it will revoke free supercharging?

    This might sound like a pedantic question, but here are some examples where I can imagine it arising:

    1. Car is involved in an accident. Many electronics are replaced so many serial numbers no longer match up with the original. But the "car" is effectively the same -- same battery, same motors, same frame.
    2. DIY project: someone transplants the Tesla drivetrain or power system into another frame. Now you have a different VIN but the same original hardware. (I know there has been at least one example of this in the Fisker Karma, which has successfully supercharged -- but I don't know if Tesla weighed in on this or what the fine print says).

    Does either, neither, or both of these scenarios result in a loss of free supercharging?

    I see two ways to approach this question: (1) What technical scenarios would Tesla recognize as a different car?; and (2) What would Tesla corporate consider a different car? I am mostly curious about (2), but interested in discussion of either.
     
  2. Topher

    Topher Energy Curmudgeon

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    Presumably VIN.

    Thank you kindly.
     
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  3. houstonian

    houstonian ಠ_ಠ

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    Houston. Duh.
  4. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Active Member

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    #4 MP3Mike, Apr 26, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
    Last we knew the computer in the car tells the Supercharger that it is OK, so as long as the computer thinks it has lifetime charging you should be good. So as long as you transplant everything Tesla wouldn't know any different. (The computer is still going to report the Tesla VIN it came out of, not the VIN of the body/frame you put it into.)

    If the computer has to be replaced the new one would have to be programmed with the existing options/VIN. Which I think only Tesla and hackers can do at this point.
     
  5. Haxster

    Haxster Member

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    Not so fast...
    I could be wrong, but...I suspect that the main computer knows a lot about the cars' configuration: the battery, motors, options, basically anything that the CAN bus can talk to (which is practically everything electrical). So if you stuck a salvaged computer into your non-free Supercharging Tesla, it might cry foul, talk to the Tesla mothership, and deny you free Supercharging. And, depending on how much of a "vintage" mismatch there was, may not work properly with your vehicle configuration...or not work at all.

    Sort of like trying to upgrade a Windows PC. Yes, you can change the HDD, change the graphics card, change the CPU, but maybe not the motherboard before Microsoft tries to invalidate your Windows license.
     
  6. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Active Member

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    @Haxster I said that if you have to replace the computer that you have to get Tesla, or a good hacker, to program the new one to match the old one. (Good luck with getting Tesla to do that.)

    Because yes, if you swap pretty much anything out it cries foul and the whole system has to be reset so that all the numbers and firmware versions match.
     
  7. S4WRXTTCS

    S4WRXTTCS Active Member

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    This makes for a good question to ponder when you're sitting in a boring meeting.

    Free supercharging seems to have a higher intrinsic value than what it's real dollar value should be. So I wonder if people won't purposely try to keep these on the road purely for that even if it costs them more money than it's worth.

    The biggest obstacle I see is Tesla where Tesla might remotely disable the ability to supercharge if they see it as being possibly dangerous. So the way I interpret it is you have free supercharging for the life of the vehicle as in the VIN, but you're pretty beholden to Tesla.
     
  8. Haxster

    Haxster Member

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    @MP3Mike Sorry, I misread your post.

    I wonder how much you can change without issues.
     
  9. cpa

    cpa Active Member

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    OK, so I know zero, zip, and nada about computers.

    What happens if the 17" touchscreen needs to be replaced? Is that part of the computer?

    What happens if the main board or whatever it is takes a dump and it needs to be replaced?

    What happens a number of years from now if Tesla offers battery upgrades from my old-fashioned 85kWh to their new and improved 115kWh?

    :)
     
  10. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Active Member

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    The 17" touchscreen can be replaced by itself. (Which a lot of people have done because of the leaking glue/goo.)

    If the computer itself needs to be replaced the new one has to be programmed to match your car VIN/options and the entire system needs to be reflashed to get everything talking again. (Again, at this time, only Tesla and a few hackers can do this.)

    If Tesla offers battery upgrades in the future I am sure FUSC information would be included in the upgrade FAQ.
     
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  11. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    From previous people who have examined it, all authentication and authorization appears to happen on the car side. Although your car's vin number is sent via charging port to the supercharger, Tesla does not appear to use it to do any sort of charge authorization on the supercharger side.

    So theoretically you can hack any Tesla (or even a non-Tesla if you can emulate the protocol) and enable it to charge at superchargers. It just depends on how secure they made things on the car side.

    If you are talking about the physical VIN number plate on the car, there is no way for the car computer to know about it (it doesn't use optical recognition to read that number). If you are able to transplant all the electronics and parts from one car to another, the VIN number on the chassis is irrelevant (unless somehow Tesla found out what you were doing and manually disables your electronics).

    If however you are just talking about general official policy, then obviously #1 Tesla would allow, but #2 would be highly unlikely for Tesla to explicitly allow (although as I say above, you can get away with it).
     

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