By on November 26, 2013

Tesla S at Seattle Auto Show 2013

Standby power — or vampire draw — allows consumer goods such as smartphones, cloud-enabled laptops and PS4s to wake up immediately to do whatever it is you need them to do. There are drawbacks, of course, such as the wasting of resources (money, electricity, the things that make electricity happen) and fires.

Speaking of fires, Tesla may need to cast more sunlight upon the S’s vampire draw issues, as it would appear their latest software update hasn’t done much to drive the stake into its heart if one owner’s experience is to be believed.

The cause for the vampire drain overall was a software update that fixed a number of issues found in the original version of the sedan’s operating system when the latter was put into sleep mode. By “fixed,” of course, the automaker merely disabled sleeping altogether.

What happened next? The standby power went from 1 percent every 24 hours to as much as 8 percent in the same time period, depending on what model one owned.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed this issue in March of this year, promising a new sleep mode update in July would bring the draw down to a much more reasonable 0.2 percent.

While the update would ultimately arrive in late fall, the owner found his S drained 15 miles of indicated range every 24 hours, down from a peak of 23 miles when the S was first tested earlier this year. Not quite 0.2 percent, though the Best & Brightest are questioning the owner’s methodology in the comments.

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18 Comments on “Software Update Barely Makes Dent In Tesla Model S “Vampire” Issue...”

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Forget percentages, it’s current draw in sleep mode that is most telling. IMHO, more than 50 mA in sleep mode is piggish.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember chasing a parasitic draw on our 2003 German car, after finding and correcting the source of the problem the car drew around 40mA with only the alarm on.

      I have worked on several other ICE cars and that seems to be fairly normal.

      A couple of months on a car battery.

      What kind of draw would be possible for standby on a Tesla?

  • avatar
    The Soul of Wit

    It occurs to me that the biggest hurdle to alternative vehicles taking over from ICE-driven cars is the “it doesn’t behave like my old-tech car does.” No, it doesn’t. But ICE cars have had about 150 years to evolve and adapt.

    An interesting idle pursuit would be to imagine if the Tesla had come about 20 yers ago. In comparison to what the best cars were like 20 years ago, the Tesla beats ’em hands down. It is only in comparison with the best of today’s most refined cars that the Tesla suffers in comparison.

    We’ve become so jaded and cynical as automotive consumers that we are like children eying a buffet….we want what we want and that’s ALL that we want. No vegetables here…get that broccoli outta here.

    We are presented with the opportunity to take part in the evolution of transportation in this world, and all we can think about is, while the Tesla does 90% of what we want it to, that damned 10% it doesn’t do is the most important thing in the world.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s that Tesla is becoming like Apple, where every issue gets front page press. Go on any forum for every car and you will see a list of common issues. Imagine if every issue with the S Class had front page reporting over the last decade.

      I would say that Tesla is doing remarkably well considering the attention. I honestly did not expect them to get a car built to this level of quality. I suspect that the deal with Toyota helped them iron out a lot of the execution issues, but regardless, the scaling is impressive. If this vampire draw and a few non-injury fires are the worst of their problems, then they are doing damned well.

      • 0 avatar

        yea lets not hear a negative comment about a FRIGGIN $85,000 car that gets 150 miles on a charge(that it cant keep).
        Let them eat cake..
        The commoner just cant understand the importance of a car like this to the filthy rich!
        Lets just keep those tax credits coming because:
        You have to have money to make money!!!

    • 0 avatar

      “But ICE cars have had about 150 years to evolve and adapt.”

      So have electrical cars. But they didn’t adapt all that well, and that’s why they have mostly gone by the wayside.

      Asking consumers to settle for less isn’t progress.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe K

        Not totally true as it was an abandoned technology in the 1920’s as far as road use. It really did not start again till the 90’s. So electric cars did not have all that time to mature.

        • 0 avatar

          There lies the answer. They were abandoned because they had too many compromises as compared to alternatives for them to become popular.

          The same is true today, except where there is government money to improve the value equation. Or in the exception case of Tesla, enough cache built up to create a small, alternative, money losing niche market.

          • 0 avatar

            Don’t forget that collusion between Edison and H. Ford on behalf of Andrew Carnegie was a large part of why EVs were abandoned. Wasn’t all practical concerns.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one who thought they saw a late 90s early 00s Camaro when scrolling past this picture?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Previously, we’ve really only seen issues in the automotive world wherein excess battery drain is caused by peripheral computers that are supposed to power off when the car isn’t in use, but fail to do so. As far as I know, that kind of battery drain is common in at least the current Jaguar XJ, and pretty much every BMW that offers iDrive. And even though all modern cars use up battery power while sitting still, this “Vampire Draw” thing is relatively new. I’m just wondering what kinds of devices and software Tesla is using for its cloud applications and whether better solutions couldn’t be found. If, for example, the car checks emails and keeps them ready for the driver, maybe it should only do so in hourly intervals, or at a certain time in the morning. Then to accomplish that, a small Wi-Fi-capable module could power on and quickly download the emails, storing them in such a way that they can immediately be sent to the user-interface computer upon startup. And if the car constantly sends data about its status, to be viewed on a smartphone app, maybe it could do so less frequently. As far as starting up the car goes, everything’s really tricky because we’re not used to having to wait for loading screens to disappear before we can use our cars. The most you’d normally wait is seven to ten seconds for a satnav system to come online, so I understand if they have the interface computer powered down to some kind of “sleep” state so that it can spring to life upon startup. But…you don’t want to cause a whole lot of drain on the battery just because of that…

    Call them teething issues…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My Leaf doesn’t have this problem at all. At most, I’ll lose a mile in 8 hours, and that could be due to temperature changes. Usually it’s zero loss.

    I’m guessing the problem with Tesla is that the real fix is in hardware – costly and time-consuming to repair, particularly for cars in the field. Maybe they need a separate switching mechanism to manage this problem, but you don’t just retrofit such a device easily. So they’re doing what they can with software.

    It’s bad press. How Tesla handles the truth is more important than the problem itself.

  • avatar

    It’s hard to imagine why the Tesla should draw ANY more standby current than a conventional vehicle.

  • avatar

    On the TMC forum, I see Model S owners saying the latest software update has reduced vampire drain from 10-13 miles a day to 3 miles a day. How is this “barely making a dent” in the problem?

  • avatar

    My dad’s 2007 Acura RL has a vampire draw that the dealer cannot find or diagnose but if it sits for more than five or six days, it has to be jump started. When will the RL get its front page news article for vampire battery draw?

    Seriously, this media Tesla bashing is getting really old really freaking fast. These hippies have been crying and whining about showing big oil the middle finger since 1973 and now we finally have a viable fully-electric mass-market car with great styling and amazing quality and all these tards can do is complain about it?! Unbelievable. Nothing is perfect but this is ridiculous. Talk about grasping at straws.

  • avatar

    My Volt will sit unplugged for days with no measurable loss in range. Tesla is doing something wrong here. *If* ones reason for existence is based on energy efficiency, a large vampire draw will be considered a minus.

    Electric vs Gasoline? Yeah, it didn’t work for a long time. The birth of the machine age was ~1900, the digital age, 80 years later. Electric/hybrid cars require cheap computing and complex programming to work well and there was no path forward for the 1910 Baker electric until recently.

    Similarly, the radiophone was a failure. The digital cell phone did not fail because the radiophone failed. Nor did it succeed because it’s better than land lines in every way. The tablet is not better than the desktop in every way either. Both became successful because they did enough things better that one could live with their relative shortcomings. Electric cars will evolve in the same manner.

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