Tesla to allow iPhone to start Model S without key/fobs with v6.0 update

Tesla -6.0-

Tesla Motors, known for changing the automobile industry with its innovative electric cars, will update its Model S firmware in the coming months to allow owners to start and drive the Model S with only an iPhone. While it isn’t yet exactly certain how this will work, there is speculation that it will involve Touch ID and may coincide with the launch of iOS 8 next month. The above screenshot of Version 6 is said to be in late beta stages and being finalized for full rollout now.

Tesla’s iPhone app won our 2013 app of the year and the ability to start the car and drive it would continue down that same innovative road.  Other systems for starting a car and driving it from a mobile phone already exist for 3rd parties like Viper and others.

Tesla has been busy snapping up Apple employees over the past year. Only weeks after poaching Apple Mac Hardware Vice President Doug Field to run Vehicle Design, Tesla snapped up Director of Manufacturing technology Rich Heley. Then security researcher Kristin Paget joined in February. Also, much of Tesla’s UI design team comes from Apple.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was also spotted at Apple last year and while speculation was that Apple was considering a buyout (shot down) or becoming an investor in Tesla’s battery Gigafactory, perhaps Musk was simply looking to better integrate the iPhone with his cars.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk and iPhone Engineer discuss battery technology [Video]

There’s no real hard news at this talk given by Elon Musk this week but it is certainly interesting to see the back and forth with the iPhone Engineer (Evan Wong? Didn’t quite get the name) and the CEO of Tesla. Apple is of course rumored to be an investor in Tesla’s battery Gigafactory so that makes the conversation all that more interesting. Some notes:

  • The engineer manages a big part of the hardware development of the iPhone.
  • Apple is one of the biggest buyers of batteries along with Tesla and they’ve done a lot of thorough testing
  • Chemistry, material, packaging and process affect  battery life constant.
  • Tesla buys 18650 form factor batteries and is sticking to them.
  • When musk asks about the energy density, the engineer knows not to say anything (he says he doesn’t want to get sued by his employer – to many laughs from the audience).
  • Musk assumes the battery energy density is public domain because of teardowns
  • Musk says in high production they can get to 260Wh/KG at the lowest price per kW which might be good info for those looking at the Gigafactory specs.
  • Apple likely can’t use these cells in their products because they are 18mm thick, much thicker than many of Apple’s products – or so speculates Musk

More of the conversation here. Read more

Apple M&A met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring, to partner in battery ‘Gigafactory’?

Those ongoing analyst predictions that Apple would buy Tesla may have been based on some sort of reality.  According the the SF ChronicleAdrian Perica, Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring.

A source tells The Chronicle that Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant…

Six months before Ahmad’s letter, Musk met with Perica and probably Cook at Apple headquarters, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. While a megadeal has yet to emerge (for all of its cash, Apple still plays hardball on valuation), such a high-level meeting between the two Silicon Valley giants involving their top dealmakers suggests Apple was very much interested in buying the electric car pioneer.

But it is unlikely that Apple wanted to buy the car company and even more unlikely that Musk would sell it. In response to the acquisition rumors at the time, he tweeted the following:

But it’s highly likely that Apple would want to buy into one of Tesla’s major upcoming projects.

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Tesla’s Model S App is 9to5Mac’s Best iPhone Application of 2013

There have been a lot of important apps released for iOS (and Mac) this year. As you can imagine, we’ve covered many of the big ones.  But for me, nothing has been a bigger game changer than Tesla’s Model S App. I’m sure many folks will pooh-pooh the idea that an app that is for 30,000 or so households should even get mainstream coverage. But bear with me here. The company has revolutionized the ways in which cars interact with smartphones and these advancements will trickle into more car/apps over the coming years..

For those out of the loop, the Tesla Model S is a fully electric car that can seat up to 7 people, propel them from 0-60 in about 4 seconds and has a battery range of about 250-300 miles fully decked out. It has the lowest coefficient of drag of any mass produced car, has gained the best safety rating ever from the NHTSA and has more interior storage space than many minivans and SUVs.

Many have compared its disruptive nature and its charismatic CEO Elon Musk to Apple and Steve Jobs. Read more

Tesla hires Apple VP Doug Field to lead vehicle programs

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As noted by Electrek, Doug Field, who most recently served as Hardware Vice President at Apple, has defected to Tesla Motors to lead the company’s vehicle engineering programs. Field will lead the development of Tesla’s future cars, according to a release from Tesla. Field worked under Dan Riccio (and previously Bob Mansfield) on computers like the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Before Apple, Field was the Chief Technology Officer at Segway.

“Doug has demonstrated the leadership and technical talent to develop and deliver outstanding products, including what are widely considered the best computers in the world,” said Elon Musk, Tesla co-founder and CEO. “Tesla’s future depends on engineers who can create the most innovative, technologically advanced vehicles in the world. Doug’s experience in both consumer electronics and traditional automotive makes him an important addition to our leadership team.”

It is unclear if Apple plans to fill the void left by Field or if this will have a negative impact on the iPhone and Mac maker. In today’s announcement, Field says that “until Tesla came along, I had never seriously considered leaving Apple.” Field says that he left Apple to take up the opportunity to build “the best cars in the world.” A source says that Field left Apple last month.

The full press release from Tesla is available below:

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