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Tesla quietly limits lifetime full-speed launches via over-the-air update

One apparent software update has rankled a few Tesla owners.

Sam Mircovich/Reuters/File
A Tesla Model S charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Cabazon, Calif., on May 18, 2016.

Tesla uses over-the-air software updates to quickly add new features to its electric cars, or to correct problems without the need for customers to bring their cars to service centers.

But one apparent software update has rankled a few Tesla owners.

The software in question is said to limit the number of times Launch Mode can be used with specific battery packs, reducing performance once a limit determined by Tesla is reached.

The Launch Mode limit was first mentioned on the Tesla Motors Club forum by user Ingineer, who is known to have extensive access to the software in his Model S.

Similar to the launch-control systems in many internal-combustion performance cars, Launch Mode is an electronic aid intended to make it easier for drivers to achieve maximum acceleration from a standstill.

In the same thread, a Model S P90D owner claimed his car had in fact been limited after using the feature.

He said the car previously pulled 1,600 amps and 512 kilowatts (686 horsepower) of power, but at some point became limited to 1,500 amps and 480 kW (643 hp).

A Tesla representative told this owner that because Launch Mode "places an increased stress on the entire powertrain," Tesla does have limits in place for the Model S P90D.

The car's computers "automatically track Launch Mode usage and continually estimate fatigue damage," the Tesla representative said.

"Depending on how Launch Mode is used, the computer may eventually limit the available power during Launch Mode to protect the powertrain," the representative said, calling such limits a "common strategy" among high-performance cars.

The owner was told that upgrading to the Model S P100D with Ludicrous Mode would solve the problem, as that version does not have the limiter.

The Tesla owner's manual makes no mention of limits for Launch Mode, notes Electrek, but the company did recently add language about "limiting controls" to the performance disclaimer on its website.

"Performance versions of the Model S and Model X continually monitor the condition of various components and may employ limiting controls to optimize the overall driving and ownership experience," it reads.

This story originally appeared on GreenCarReports.

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