Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • tesla model s
  • tesla model s

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Tesla Model S
  • Tesla Model S

  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
  • Image Credit: Tesla Motors
This isn't your father's electric vehicle. In fact, it belongs, in part, to "Ma Bell."

It was revealed at the GigaOM Mobilize 2013 in San Francisco yesterday that the network powering the connected features in the Tesla Model S is from AT&T. Actually, the AT&T connection is in every Tesla model with an infotainment screen, according to Forbes, so we'll assume that means the upcoming Model X will also talk to the AT&T Death Star for its data needs. Model S drivers won't notice any difference from behind the wheel, since the deal has been in place for a while, just without any AT&T logos anywhere. As before, some functions of the car can be remotely accessed and Tesla can track driver statistics and where the car is, in case it gets stolen.

It is AT&T's machine-to-machine (M2M) solution that let's Tesla CEO Elon Musk snag information about a particular car that's been in the news, due to a fire, say, or a range-depleting drive. Forbes says M2M is "increasingly strategic to [AT&T's] growth." The telecommunication company also works with the Ford Focus Electric, General Motor's OnStar network and will make most new GM car's WiFi hotspots by the 2015 model year.

AT&T's Chris Penrose, senior vice president of emerging devices, did say that the Model S could get an additional feature soon. "We think that you should have the ability to turn your car on as a mobile hotspot for your trip, even if you haven't subscribed to a data plan," he said, according to GigaOM.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      Randy C
      • 1 Year Ago
      I knew they were hooked up to some cell phone carrier, I just didn't know which one. That is the only way Tesla can pull off some of the amazing things the Model-S does is by being connected to the cell phone data network. (You see it advertized as 3G and 4G service.) The question is when are the Tesla owners going to have to start paying for it? The Leaf documentation states that their version expires after 3 years. After that time you have to make your own arrangements with the cell phone carrier to keep the service going. Otherwise you'll no longer be able to check battery SOC, turn on charging, turn on the climate control etc. from the internet or your smart phone.
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      Tesla also provides the communications gateway for the RAV4 EV to complement the electric drivetrain they provide. That box also has an AT&T SIM in it. This enables the car location, state of charge monitor, remote charge start, and remote climate features in Toyota's Entune app.
      Tony Kalniev
      • 1 Year Ago
      The ONLY thing to fear is money. For example, Tesla grows big and influential, thus allowing AT&T to provide advertising...imagine ur car flashing adverts that last seconds before every ride, or every window you press on...Dont get me wrong, I am one of Tesla's strongest free marketers, but this vision just dropped in my head....sad days for real...Think it wont happen? Think again!
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tony Kalniev
        Already happened. There was a story on autoblog a week and a half ago about Tesla sending an ad to their customers in the mail. It was just some other company wanted to get their name in front of Tesla customers. The Tesla customer demographic must be pretty amazing, you can be sure Tesla will be helping deliver a not insignificant number of ads to their customer base (i.e. monetizing them).
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation There was a huge backlash for that (it was the first time it had happened, and "officially" it was mistake by someone in the marketing department) so I doubt Tesla will be trying it again in the near future.
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      Big Brother is monitoring you while you're driving the Mo. del S. Another loss of liberty.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        That's why you don't have a cell phone and live in your mothers basements leaching wifi off of the neighbors unsecured network. Because you are Free!
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        GM has had OnStar for How many years now?
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Complaining about a cellular connection on a car because of government snooping is like blaming a bong for government overreach in the war on drugs; if that's your perspective, the problem's not with the device in the end user's hands.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Makes sense, the GSM bands make it easier for Tesla to sell the vehicle overseas and connect to international cell networks. Hopefully they will make it so you can tether your phone to your car for times when you travel in areas where att reception sucks.
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Firmware 5.0 enabled WiFi tethering. It hasn't gone out to all cars yet, but here's a thread on performance on WiFi using home and portable hotspot tethering: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/20268-LTE-Hotspot-Tethering-Performance
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      In a world of MiFis these announcements (Chrysler was first) are completely useless. It will always be cheaper to get a MiFi and just put it in the car and if your car is more than a few years old, the MiFi will also be faster due to having more up-to-date wireless technology (Teslas are already behind due to lack of LTE). MiFis are cheap, easily replaceable and you can pick your carrier instead of having to use the one that your car supports even if it doesn't work well where you are at the time.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        I agree -- but for people that don't regularly need a hotspot, it would be really nice to be able to activate your your hotspot for short-term use (ie daily, weekly) -- as long as rates are decent. And people that don't regularly need a hotspot might not think it's worth it to buy a standalone one for limited use.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Uh, I was referring to the mobile hotspot functionality with that comment, not the basic connectedness.
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        I agree that a MiFi system could often be a better approach and has many things going for it, but I wouldn't go so far as to call the built-in device completely worthless: 1. Even if it becomes outdated eventually, a built-in connector can provide telematics and services even if the customer does not purchase a MiFi or relies on cell phone tethering. An integrated connection can be used while the driver is away from the car while a tethered phone would leave with the driver, making such features as finding your vehicle and remote cooling inaccessible. 2. Device utility affects pricing on shared data plans. A gaming device or tablet that has built-in 4G is less useful than a cell phone or MiFi, so people are not willing to pay as much. As a result, carriers charge $10 to $20 less a month for the more limited device. Seeing as it's even more limited than a table, I could see vehicle access costing as little as $0/month as a way to keep users connected and drawing data, for which they're paying, so that they use it for streaming music, etc. 3. An add-on device is more cumbersome. AT&Ts 4G MiFi is a 3"x4" brick that needs to be plugged in or needs to be recharged. A future vehicle could have a MiFi compartment with a USB port that keeps it out of view to discourage theft, but if it's just put in the glove compartment, that's cutting into storage space. The Tesla design doesn't have to be powered on, powered off, charged, or accessed so that it can be configured through its own display - it just uses the 17" touchscreen. Different designs and advancing technology can mitigate many of the drawbacks, but can also introduce others. BMW's custom 4G hotspot snaps into a custom designed spot in the car, charges there, and even offers the ability to be removed and run on a battery, giving you the best of both worlds. However, it's also expensive and displaces storage or the $250 cell phone cradle in the center arm rest. 4. It should be close to free to add to the car. The central display on an Model S has been compared to an iPad more times than I can recall, but in truth it has the same Tegra 4 chip as an Asus Transformer Infinity or Nexus 7. While it's not as clean an integration as a tablet, the automaker's going to be buying one part from the manufacturer regardless, and whether it has 4G on it or not should be a trivial cost as an OEM component. It may even reduce overall cost to have all cars use the same component and enable it via software. A trial subscription, such as is found on satellite radio may further offset the cost, as it puts the buyer on a specific network which hopefully they'll keep.
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      Which part don't you like? What car do you have?
    • Load More Comments