Tesla App Unlocks Someone Else’s Car, Lets Them Drive Away in It
It’s one thing to accidentally get in someone else’s car. It’s another thing to drive away in it.
There's nothing quite like getting in your car and feeling that something's off, only to realize you've gotten into someone else's car by mistake. Last week, one Tesla owner went even further, when they realized a glitch had seemingly allowed them to not only enter someone else's car but also drive it all over town.
As reported by Global News, immigration consultant Rajesh Randev was in a rush when he went to pick up his white Tesla Model 3 on March 7. He used the Tesla app to open the door, got in the car, and drove away. As he drove to pick up his children from school, he noticed an unfamiliar crack in the windshield and rang his wife to ask what had happened. Randev's wife was unaware of the damage, and he also couldn't find his phone charger. Shortly afterward, he got a concerning text that told him he was driving the wrong car.
As it turned out, Randev's white Tesla Model 3 had been parked next to another near-identical car. Using the Tesla app, Randev had intended to unlock his own car. Instead, for some reason, the app reportedly allowed him to unlock a different Tesla and drive it away. The similarities between the vehicles meant Randev didn't realize his mistake until he was contacted by the owner of the other vehicle. The other owner had managed to find Randev's phone number from a document in his own car.
Upon parking and getting out of the vehicle, Randev noticed the wheels were different from his own and that he was indeed driving someone else's car. "I was surprised how I was able to drive someone else’s car, by mistake, for an hour and a half while his car [key] was in his hand,” Randev told Global News.
Randev was able to re-enter the vehicle after parking and drove it back to its proper owner. The two men were able to laugh about the situation and notified the police to make a report on the matter, with no action taken by the police regarding the honest mistake.
The Tesla app offers various functionality to owners, including the ability to unlock and "start" the vehicle. It also offers features for climate control and monitoring charging progress. The app is supposed to be paired directly with an owner's individual vehicle, making it unclear how Randev was able to get in and drive another owner's car. He has contacted Tesla regarding the matter, as has Global News. Neither received any comment from Tesla, which does not maintain a public relations department. That fact prevents us from gaining any insight from Tesla itself on what may have happened.
Back in the old days, it was easier to accidentally get in the wrong car. Older cars often had worn locks that could be opened with just about any key, and people simply didn't lock their cars as often. In this day and age of highly sophisticated key fobs and keyless entry systems though, it's surprising such a thing could happen.
Cynics will suggest that the car was simply left unlocked and switched on. The Model 3 does feature a walk-away door lock system, though, that is supposed to lock the car when the driver walks away with the key fob or paired smartphone. This system won't trigger at a car's designated home location or if a fob remains in the car. Indeed, if a key fob was left in the other owner's vehicle, that would explain how Randev was able to gain access to the car and drive away. It's perhaps the simplest explanation beyond a major flaw in the Tesla app itself.
However, Randev's story is quite clear that the Tesla app was what allowed him to unlock the wrong car. The Drive reached out to Randev for his account to clarify that the app itself was what allowed access, rather than some other feature or quirk. We will update this article accordingly if this becomes available.
In any case, Tesla's bugs and quality issues mean the account is plausible, however incredible it sound. If you're a Tesla owner, keep your eyes peeled in the parking lot to make sure you're getting in the right car. Or, even better, see if you can recreate this problem yourself and let me know what you find out.
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