To Help Drivers Escape Hurricane Irma, Tesla Extended the Range of Some Model S, Model X Cars

Proving once again that over-the-air software updates are great.

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Tesla previously offered multiple versions of the Model S and Model X with 75-kilowatt-hour battery packs that used software to electronically limit those cars' usable capacity. But over the weekend, Tesla unlocked that extra capacity to help some Florida drivers escape Hurricane Irma.

Through an over-the-air update, Tesla unlocked the full capacity of battery packs in Model S and Model X variants that were normally limited to 60 or 70 kWh. This added an average of 30 to 40 miles of range, according to Electrek. The battery boost for Florida drivers will be in place until September 16.

Tesla launched the emergency software update after a Florida owner contacted the company, saying they needed an additional 30 miles of range to get out of the mandatory evacuation zone they were in. Tesla obliged, leaving some owners surprised when they turned on their cars and found the screens displaying more available range than usual.

Last year, Tesla introduced the Model X 60D, Model S 60, and Model S 60D base models with 75-kWh battery packs and software that limited their usable capacity to 60 kWh. Tesla offered owners the option to unlock that extra capacity for $3,000, before eliminating the "60" models altogether. It also previously offered a 70-kWh version of the Model S (a Model X 70D was planned, but never went into production) that also received an emergency capacity boost to help drivers steer clear of Irma, according to The Verge.