Why Is Tesla Forcing Software Updates If No Safety Issue Is Involved?

There was a theory that it was required by some countries, but that is not the case.

Part of the fascination most people have with Tesla vehicles is the fact that they behave like computers on wheels. All it requires for some improvements is an over-the-air update. There are famous cases of that, but there are also reasons for people not to want them. Well, Tesla is not willing to allow people to oversee these updates anymore. Either you do them, or you lose functionalities that have nothing to do with the updates. But why?

This is the message Tesla owners have received recently – the bold is on us:


The Tesla network is undergoing enhancements for increased security. In order to maintain compatibility with and access to connected vehicle features, this vehicle requires a software update to at least version 2019.40.2.3. If not updated prior to 1-MAY-2020, this vehicle may no longer be able to receive over-the-air software updates, access the Tesla Mobile App & associated features, utilize voice commands, receive streaming media content, and other connectivity dependent features may be impacted. Please install the available software update by selecting the yellow clock icon and choosing a convenient time If you are persistently experiencing software update installation failures, please schedule a service appointment via the Tesla Mobile App.”

For the ones that are always anxiously waiting for updates, this is not an issue, but there are quite a few owners that prefer not to have these updates. Tesla will not give them this option, as you can see above. 

It is even a little worse: some people claim that Tesla has made the updates without people allowing the company to do so. Tesla Motors Club forums have specific threads about that. Mr. Green, who has helped us in some articles, said he heard about many such situations.

Anyway, he told InsideEVs he does not feel these cases allow for an independent way to verify their claims.

“The information on unapproved updates is scarce and full of plausible deniability because the event is not recorded car side, and it looks like a person accidentally scheduled the update from the car logs.”

Someone asked Mr. Green on Twitter why would anyone try to avoid updates, and this is his answer:

What Mr. Green mentions about the “battery nerfing” is something we have been investigating: the software updates 2019.16.1 or 2019.16.2 for the Model S and X. There was a suspicion that the voltage cap these updates created was a way to avoid battery fires such as the one that happened in Shanghai in April.  David Rasmussen is even suing Tesla for that. 

The Autopilot (AP) nerfing is something European owners fear due to legal restrictions. This TFF-Forum.de thread even brings that up as the main reason for Tesla to impose the update, but there are people in the US receiving the same message, and there are no Autopilot restrictions there – so far.