Tesla Hacker's Cat-and-Mouse Game

Tesla Hacker's Cat-and-Mouse Game

Over the past few years, Tesla rolled out special features that were available as in-app purchases. One such feature was released last year to upgrade to the Acceleration Boost for the Model 3 for $2,000. When the software capability is unlocked, it shortens the acceleration for 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. This is down from 4.4 seconds by unlocking a power limit on the motors within the Model 3.

However, it’s not just Tesla who is selling its upgrade features. Earlier this year, a company called Ingenext developed a loophole that allows Tesla Model 3 owners to unlock the same feature along with additional functions for half the price. After purchasing the upgrade device from Ingenext, Model 3 owners can complete installation by opening the interior panel situated under the glove box in front of the driver’s passenger seat and simply plug the two connectors of the module. After closing the panel, the Tesla owner just needs to follow the instructions sent with the device.

Ingenext’s Boost 50 module communicates with the vehicle over Wi-Fi and adjustments to the program can be deployed to restore functions. This third-party module increases the performance and acceleration of the Tesla Model 3 Dual and improves throttle sensitivity. It also gives access via a web browser on a smart device or laptop to use Drift Mode (a driving mode that disables traction control while maintaining ABS and power steering), battery heating and automatic opening of the driver's door on approach.

Tesla is not letting this go unnoticed. Now, the EV manufacturer is retaliating with a patch released in the latest 2020.32.2 software update. It will pick up if a third-party device is used, as discovered by a Tesla owner who recently unlocked the feature using Ingenext. Tesla’s in-car notification indicated an “incompatible vehicle modification” was detected, which could result in a “potential risk of damage or shutdown”. Although the electric vehicle can still be driven, the notification remains on the screen. Having a permanent warning on the media control unit is enough to unsettle any owner of a $45,000+ vehicle.

Ingenext was selling the add-on as being undetectable remotely, but they hadn’t realized that Tesla was already one step ahead. Ingenext has started a game of cat and mouse by hacking Tesla’s inverter and Tesla patching the hack, and Ingenext is now working to overcome any issues by providing their own patch to counterattack Tesla’s patch.

Guillaume André, the founder of Ingenext, says they hope to release their patch within the next two weeks and they have warned customers about this occurring. In fact, Ingenext has a page on their website letting customers know if their upgrade is safe against specific Tesla software releases. Ingenext highlights using their upgrade device is done “at your own risk” by including the following notice:

The Boost 50 module is undetectable remotely. However, when visiting a Service Center or when a technician visits your home, it is recommended that you remove the device beforehand. Installation and removal takes only a few minutes. Any purchaser or user of the Boost 50 module releases Technologies Ingenext and all its related companies from any responsibility regarding the full or partial validity of the manufacturer's warranty following the use of this equipment. We are not responsible for any modifications the manufacturer could do to your car (ex: turning off some features etc.).
Anyone who thought that taking a cheap shortcut through a third-party add-on without Tesla knowing about it has surely underestimated the capabilities and technologies used by the EV pioneer. Saving a few bucks on a feature is hardly worth risking your Tesla’s long-term warranty.