A Tesla mobile app that allows owners to enter and start their cars suffered an outage that locked some owners out of their cars on Friday.
The outage affected owners on several continents, and appeared to last several hours.
Some Tesla models could be opened and started with a Bluetooth connection, absent a key fob or card, but others could not be.
This past week an app outage had caused some Tesla owners, who had been using their phones to access their cars, to be locked out of their vehicles, with the outage spanning several continents. The outage appeared to have started on Friday afternoon, and affected Tesla owners in North America, Europe, and Asia, with a number of owners taking to social media to complain. Owners reported seeing a "500 server error" message when trying to access the app.
A number of owners reached out to Elon Musk on Twitter to report the outage, with the CEO responding to some of them.
Access to the app was restored after several hours, with the server connection believed to have returned in all regions late on Friday US time.
Should be coming back online now. Looks like we may have accidentally increased verbosity of network traffic.
Apologies, we will take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2021
The automaker has not mentioned the cause of the app outage, and has not indicated just how many owners were affected by it. Among other functions, the Tesla app allows owners to open and start their vehicles, in addition to activating the Summon function and using various remote control features, such as setting the interior temperature, opening and closing windows, activating the horn, or engaging the Sentry Mode for extra security or the Valet Mode, which locks a number of interior functions.
"You can use your Tesla app to remotely start your car if you lose all of your Key Fobs and Key Cards. Replacement Key Fobs and Key Cards can also be paired to your car at your preferred Service Center," the automaker says.
However, what had been advertised as a contingency option in the event of lost keys or card may have become the primary mode for accessing the car for a percentage owners.
Thankfully, some drivers could still use the Bluetooth connection to access their cars, including Model 3 and Model Y owners, as the function does not rely on the app's connection to the server. Other Tesla vehicles, however, including older versions of the Model S and Model X, do not have the ability to use a Bluetooth connection to unlock the car. This subset of the owners affected by the outage is believed to have been the ones actually locked out of their cars.
While the outage itself was temporary and did not prevent a vast percentage of owners from being able to enter and start their cars, it does point to an industry-wide issue that is expected to grow in the coming years: loss of certain vehicle functions due to glitches in connectivity, or other software problems.
This issue is perhaps far less about getting into a Tesla and starting it, since owners are supposed to use their key fob or card, but rather the possibility of a sudden loss of features that could be dependent on a data connection to a server while the vehicle is in motion. As a number of automakers are mulling introducing features that one can subscribe to, including those that will be able to offer some level of autonomous driving, issues of data connectivity are likely to come up as more features are offered via in-car infotainment systems, including those related to actual driving. With the upcoming rollout of a number of Level 4 robotaxi services, seamless connectivity for remote vehicle monitoring will be at a premium. It's not too difficult to imagine a loss of telemetry from dozens of robotaxis operating in a city being a problem in the not too distant future.