Tesla has released details of an impending software update, for the 2012 Tesla Model S electric sedan.

Among the changes, owners will now be able to use new features like an app launcher and voice commands, while seeing improvements to some of the controls, and even acceleration response.

New features

First of the new features introduced in the update is a "vehicle sleep" mode.

This is aimed at reducing energy use while the vehicle is off, powering down the vehicle display and electronics to a "sleep" state when the car is turned off.

Tesla notes that this does mean the displays will take a little longer to boot up, but drivers can choose whether to turn this feature on or off. Turning it on is beneficial to those who may not recharge every time they're parked up--the company says that leaving the displays on uses the equivalent of 8 miles of energy per day when the car is not plugged in.

An App Launcher is also included in the update, letting users pick where they wish a launched app to be displayed--in the top or bottom half of the screen--by dragging and dropping the item on the touchscreen.

2012 Tesla Model S display screen [Photo: Flickr user jurvetson]

2012 Tesla Model S display screen [Photo: Flickr user jurvetson]

Finally, voice commands are now available.

Drivers can use this to listen to music, use the navigation system, or call contacts--all using simple commands like "listen", "drive to" and "call", while holding down the voice command button on the steering wheel.


A series of subtle enhacements are included in the updates.

Most noteworthy are the synchronized door handles and the improved throttle response.

The former means that all doorhandles now present and retract together. All door handles will remain extended for a minute after the last door closes, before all retracting in unison.

The latter will also be welcome for Model S drivers. The car has never been short on speed, but Tesla has re-tuned the "throttle" response for what it calls a smoother, crisper feel. This should make the Model S even quicker in real-world driving.

Additionally, drivers can switch the vehicle alarm on or off, choose between metric or imperial units, choose whether the door handles auto-present when unlocking the car, and a 'Range Driving Mode' reduces the climate control's effectiveness to the benefit of conserving range.

Model S owners will be presented with an update scheduling screen when the update becomes available, and the software will be updated wirelessly.

(Hat tip to Brian Henderson)


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