Use It or Lose It

Use It or Lose It

by Gill D on June 16, 2021

Tesla has discreetly removed a feature from the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV sold in the US after detecting via its data logs that its customers weren’t using it. 

The EV manufacturer took the first move in collecting data from its Tesla fleet. By constantly gathering the data from the car’s sensors, it can track data from practically everything it records from all its vehicles. This allows Tesla’s AI to “learn” the roads as well as monitor how its vehicles and features are being used.

This is exactly how Tesla came to the conclusion that one of its features was being underutilized and therefore felt it could remove it from the Model 3 and Y SUV. However, it didn’t go unnoticed, and some customers took to Twitter to voice their discontent.

Twitter user @Ryanthe3nerd posted:

"I really don't like the direction @tesla is going raising prices of vehicles but removing features like lumbar for the Model Y. On top of rumors of FSD increase to $14k without any real added features to FSD unless you're a beta tester."

Tesla’s Technoking, Elon Musk gave a valid response saying:

“Moving lumbar was removed only in front passenger seat of 3/Y (obv not there in rear seats). Logs showed almost no usage. Not worth cost/mass for everyone when almost never used. Prices increasing due to major supply chain price pressure industry-wide. Raw materials especially.”

The Twitter got quite lengthy with varying opinions on the matter.

But it does show that Tesla knows more about the use of its cars’ features than what many customers realize. And it’s the only automobile manufacturer that has such a wealth of information about its customers.

So, what is exactly is the Lumbar support that is now missing from Tesla’s Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV?

Lumbar support helps increase comfort for the drivers and passengers. As Musk pointed out, the lumbar feature was only available in the front seats, but passengers weren’t using it, so they removed it. The lumbar feature aids in correcting poor posture, which can result in ongoing back pain especially for drivers who spent a lot of time on the road.

In Tesla’s defense, the EV giant has taken great care in manufacturing high-quality seats that will help with posture – with or without the added lumbar support. And again, the feature has not been removed from the driver’s seat where it counts the most.

Last year, automotive engineer Sandy Munro interviewed Elon where they reserved special airtime to discuss Tesla’s car seats. Munro started off with: “The seats in your car are phenomenal — absolutely phenomenal.”

Elon explained a lot of thought and care has gone into the manufacturing of the car seats: “What we’re really trying to do with the seat, and we put a lot of emphasis into this, is minimize any pressure peaks — so, it evens out the pressure.”

Lumbar support has been added to cars to compensate for poor car seat design and prevent increasing complaints of lower back ailments.

Proper lumbar support in a car can be significant as it can increase the number of safe drivers on the road while also increasing the driver’s and passenger’s overall health. This can have a knock-on effect on medical costs as well. Other auto manufacturers have realized this and so offering comfortable back support with lumbar support features has been on the increase.

Lumbar support is offered differently by different carmakers. Some have it as a standard feature while others offer it as an optional extra. Lumbar support can also sometimes be adjusted, and sometimes not.

While there are obvious lower back benefits to having this feature in cars, it can also help decrease fatigue levels in drivers, which in turn increases concentration levels and can help keep the driver more alert and comfortable.

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