Some Tesla Model 3 car owners found themselves decidedly locked out in the cold due to a vital Phone Key app being down for maintenance.
Labor Day dismay
On US Labor Day, some owners of Tesla Model 3 cars who tried to use their Phone Key app, the smartphone app that will open a Model 3 without the owner having to take the phone out of their pocket, found themselves locked out when the app didn’t work and they hadn’t brought a physical key fob/card with them.
Some of the immobilised owners took to social media platforms to highlight their plight, voice their frustration and seek information. For example, some Tesla owners on Twitter claimed to have been locked out of their cars for up to four hours whereas others reported being stranded at Supercharger stations and plugged in longer than was necessary.
No app trapped
The reasons why some owners of Tesla Model 3 cars were locked out appears to be the fact that they had logged out of their app, may not have been able to get a phone signal and that the app was undergoing maintenance at the other end.
Under normal circumstances, the Phone Key should be able to operate on Bluetooth Low Energy frequencies rather than a network connection in order to communicate with the Model 3 vehicle.
This is not the first time that Tesla owners have experienced a lack of mobility due to being locked out by apps. Back in 2018, after media control unit replacements and a problem with digital certificate transferal, some owners found themselves in the same frustrating situation of being temporarily refused entry to their own cars.
Not hard if you bring your card
The Tesla Manual states that the Model 3 comes with two physical key cards for entry and operation that can be used when a phone is not accessible, out of battery, or if someone else needs temporary access to the Model 3 e.g. a valet. Those owners who were temporarily stranded by the app failure appear not to have brought either of their key cards with them.
All this comes at a time when Tesla is facing competition from the likes of Harley-Davidson which has just announced that it’s taking pre-orders for its first all-electric motorcycle, the LiveWire. The LiveWire can cover 110 miles on a single charge and can go from zero to 60 in just 3.5 seconds.
What does this mean for your business?
This is clearly an embarrassing incident for a company that has a technological focus for its vehicles and where the price reflects the early-curve electronic vehicle development – Model 3s starting at around £37,000.
This story is also an example of the potential dangers of relying too much on technology and apps to run every aspect of our lives going forward. Even though Tesla does provide physical key cards that could have helped those stranded drivers, human error (not reading the manual and/or forgetting to bring one) played a part, as it often does, in errors involving the human and technology combination. Also, the use of interconnected technologies i.e. the reliance upon some kind of Internet/Bluetooth connection to enable the app to work correctly shows how today’s newest smart services still have a heavy reliance upon the existing communications infrastructure.