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Tesla fights back against owners hacking their cars to unlock performance boost

Tesla is starting to fight back against owners who are hacking their cars to unlock a performance boost that the automaker is itself selling as a software update.

For a few years now, Tesla started selling vehicles with upgradable software-locked capabilities, like 75 kWh battery pack software locked at 60 kWh, or higher power outputs enabled through software updates.

The most recent example is offering a $2,000 “Acceleration Boost” for the Model 3 Dual Motor.

It unlocks roughly 50 hp in the Model 3 powertrain and shortens the 0 to 60 mph acceleration to 3.9 seconds.

Earlier this year, we reported on a company called Ingenext that released a device that enabled Tesla owners to unlock the same capacity for half the price.

All Model 3 owners have to do is plug a connector to their MCU, and they automatically get the 50 hp boost plus a few other features from Ingenext, like a “Drift mode.”

But as it was suspected, Tesla is starting to fight back against the hack.

Some owners who purchased the device have received this in-car notification after the latest Tesla software update (via /u/potato3838 on Reddit):

As you can see, Tesla says that it detected “incompatible vehicle modification,” and that it could result in a “potential risk of damage or shutdown.”

The notification apparently stays stuck on the screen like that, but the vehicle remains drivable.

Guillaume André, founder of Ingenext, told Electrek that Tesla patched their update of the driver inverter software, unlocking the capacity in the software update 2020.32.1.

André said that they sent a notification to clients warning them not to update, and only three customers updated their cars before seeing the update.

Now they’re working on their own patch to enable their customers to update without issues.

André told Electrek that it would take “one or two weeks” to get the patch.

Electrek’s Take

That was kind of expected. It’s basically a cat-and-mouse game between hacking the inverter and Tesla patching the hack.

To be fair, Ingenext does warn that it is a concern and they have a page that lets customers know whether an update is safe or not.

It’s an “at your own risk” kind of thing.

I get why some people would want to do the hack since the capacity is already in the cars that they bought, and Tesla claiming that it could result in damages is weird since they are basically using the same code as their own acceleration boost.

But at the same time, you are also running third-party software.

Again, at your own risk.

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Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

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