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what to remember from the 2021 software updates?

Tesla vehicles are constantly being updated, for better and for worse. During 2021, an update was deployed approximately every two weeks. But are they all useful, or only some of them deserve to exist? Let’s take stock by taking a look in the rear view mirror.

The interior of the Tesla Model 3

During 2021, Tesla rolled out no less than 24 updates to its fleet of electric cars. But in the end, after a whole year where the vehicle has evolved every two weeks, what can we really learn from the new features deployed?

If the Californian manufacturer is a pioneer in these remote updates, we cannot help but wonder if this sustained frequency of developments of all kinds makes sense, or if the vast majority of the versions deployed are only futile. We are going to review in this file the different software versions that have been offered to drivers of the brand’s vehicles, and draw up an overall assessment of what there is to remember from these fortnightly updates.

December 2020: a major update

At the very end of 2020, Tesla rolled out version 2020.48 to its entire fleet, with many new features on the program. It’s a habit for the Californian manufacturer to release a major version between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This software mount sets the tone for the year to follow.

Included in this update were:

  • An improved description of the release notes, to easily see what changes with the current version;
  • Improved driving visualization, with some changes to the dashboard, cruise control and Autopilot, as well as the current speed limit and speedometer;
  • Improved planned departure, where it is now possible to precondition the battery and the cabin even if the car is not plugged in, and where you can also indicate your off-peak time slots to charge only when the electricity is the least expensive ;
  • Improved display of Superchargers, with the ability to easily see the number of stations available at each charging site.

January to August: nothing new under the sun

The months that followed were not rich in news for Tesla drivers. Indeed, no less than 12 updates have been pushed without there being any useful features or major additions. Each release note was more or less identical stating only: “This update includes minor fixes and improvements“.

Some Tesla drivers then did not understand the reason why their car asked to be updated once or twice a month, without any evolution being able to be seen. Some imagined that under the description of the release notes, were hiding improvements on the Autopilot or autonomous driving which were not in fact documented. But unfortunately that was not the case.

Tesla Update minor fixes
A refrain that repeats itself: updates without new features // Source: Bob JOUY for Frandroid

Some bugs affecting a small number of users could be fixed, or new languages ​​were added (Finnish, Croatian), but it is clear that it was flat calm during the first seven months of the year 2021, unfortunately.

August 2021: finally some novelties

The thirteenth update of the year 2021 finally brought interesting new features for most Tesla drivers. For many new Tesla Model 3 customers, this was the first time an update brought anything other than bug fixes.

On the program for this version 2021.24, we found:

  • The washing mode, which allows, in one press on the central screen, to lock the windows, the front and rear trunks, to deactivate the Sentinel mode and to lock the charging port;
  • Manual deactivation of mirror dimming;
  • Improvement of the on-board camera, with automatic recording in the event of collision or accident detection;
  • Improved display of range on the main screen, with a simplified way — one tap on the screen — to switch between range in kilometers and range in percentage;
  • The possibility of remaining connected to Wi-Fi while driving, if the vehicle was already connected to Wi-Fi when stationary;
  • Support for three new languages ​​(Hungarian, Romanian, Russian).

In the USA, owners of one benefited in addition to all this from a shortcut to Disney+ in the theater application, but this is still not the case in Europe.

Between August and December 2021: dead calm

After this August update which brought some welcome new features, four months have passed, and eight updates have been deployed without adding any features.

Tesla Model 3
Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

We thus found the sad rhythm which had marked the beginning of the year 2021, with regular updates, but without interest. Note however that during this period, some updates were deployed with improvements specially made for the new Tesla Model S (which do not yet exist in Europe), or for the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y reserved for Asia.

December 2021: the return of novelties

Tesla Tidal Stop Navigation
An update with some remarkable new features // Source: Bob JOUY for Frandroid

The end of the year 2021 was rather rich in novelties on the side of Tesla. Indeed, from the beginning of the month, a 2021.40 version was made available, adding in particular the Tidal music streaming service, step-by-step navigation and an audible warning when activating the adaptive cruise control.

But the real big update of 2021 will definitely have been the last of the year, respecting the Tesla tradition: offering a Christmas present to its customers, by providing a software version that includes many new features on the one hand, and a small sound and light show on the other hand.

The update released on Christmas Eve (2021.44.25.2) included a substantial list of improvements:

  • Light show, where your Tesla performs choreography in a light show;
  • A customizable application launcher, allowing you to choose which applications you want to keep in your dock for easy access;
  • A new graphical interface, with simplified access to certain controls;
  • The possibility of displaying the side cameras when using the turn signal;
  • Navigation by stages has been greatly revised, with the possibility of reordering the various stops;
  • Live access to the Sentinel camera from the mobile application on iOS or Android;
  • Various games have been added, for example Sonic or Sudoku;
  • The subwoofer is now configurable according to the level of bass you want;
  • It is possible to precondition the vehicle and the battery even when there is less than 20% battery remaining;
  • The heated seats can be combined with the automatic air conditioning, which will come on by itself if the passenger compartment is too cold;
  • Managing dash cam recordings is simplified, with the ability to delete all recordings at once.

Of course, with so many changes coupled with a different user interface, some drivers have reservations about what Tesla is offering. Between useless updates and developments too important not to destabilize all its customers, what is the assessment of a year of updates?

After a year of updates, what do we retain?

As 2022 dawns, the record of an entire year of Tesla vehicle updates is a bit of a mixed bag. Indeed, it is impossible for a car manufacturer having considerably increased its number of customers to satisfy all users with each change.

If you want to see the Light Show just arrived on Tesla’s year-end update, with the windows creaking as you pass

— Ulrich Rozier (@UlrichRozier) December 24, 2021

If the vast majority of updates boils down to a correction of imperceptible bugs for owners, the two or three big annual updates are not unanimous. However, if we take a step back, it is clear that the interfaces evolve and that additions useful to all arrive as and when, which is still too rare in the automotive industry today.

Let’s bet that Tesla remains attentive to its customers when they express dissatisfaction or misunderstandings, so that future software updates satisfy as many people as possible, while continuing to add new interesting features.

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