Tesla Tries to Dumb Down Hacker's Model S After He Revealed (Poorly Kept) Secret

Tesla is becoming more and more a Jekyll and Hyde type of a figure, releasing great vehicles on the one hand and acting like a despotic dictator on the other. You really get the feeling you shouldn't mess with this company if you want to keep using their products.
Tesla Model S interior 1 photo
Photo: Tesla Motors
Just one month ago, Elon Musk took offense at the comments posted by some blogger and Tesla owner wannabe about the Model X's launching event. Instead of taking it like a man or answering with a set of arguments that would prove the man wrong, Musk did the equivalent of grabbing all of his toys and leaving: he decided not to allow said blogger to buy a Model X, despite him having paid the deposit already.

The amount of control Tesla has over its product is not something most of us are used to. And it's not just about who gets to own the cars - no, this control extends even after you've paid for the vehicle and it's sitting tightly in your own garage. Receiving upgrades overnight that turn your commuter into a damn-near self-driving car is great, but Tesla could be sending something else as well.

Jason Hughes, a Tesla Model S owner and hacker by excellence, found that out the hard way. Nosing around the latest update, Jason found a piece of encrypted code that turned out to be the badges for a P100D future model (either a Model S or a Model X - or both - using 100 kWh battery packs). He tweeted Tesla about it, but instead of getting a tweet back, he was treated to a different type of answer.

Showing the kind of approach you'd expect from a North Korean leader, and not a Californian car company, Tesla attempted to revert Hughes’ vehicle to an earlier firmware version, to protect any further leaks (Jason did say he came across other interesting stuff). Given his skills, he was able to block the process in time, and then issued a "wtf?" tweet to Tesla and Elon Musk.

What does the man in charge do? Well, he answers by denying any implication in the matter. "Wasn't done at my request. Good hacking is a gift," read Elon Musk's tweet. No apologies, no further explanations, just "it wasn't me."

Naturally, Jason is a bit flabbergasted by all that happened. Talking to Teslarati, he said, "Yeah, seems I’ve gotten Musk’s attention on the matter. That’s enough of a truce for me for the time being on it to give them a chance to sort things out. Long story short, Tesla really should watch what they put into production firmware if they don’t want details about it posted. I’m not the only person with access to their car’s internals, and under no real obligation to keep anything I find secret on Tesla’s behalf. If I keep it secret, nothing is to say someone else won’t in the future."

Do we really want cars that we don't have complete control over? Imagine you say something bad about Tesla in a comment somewhere, and the next morning your car refuses to switch on. Isn't this a little too 1984-ish? If Tesla keeps this kind of behavior up, it'll soon get dozens of lawsuits on its head. Or dozens of people switching to a different electric car maker, and as this year's Geneva Motor Show suggested, we won't be lacking in those.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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