Hot Take

Amid California heatwave, Tesla asks owners to charge off-peak

Musk's company is doing its civic duty here. Now if only that care extended to the company's employees.

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Amid the continued COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest associated with a presidential election, California is also dealing with an entirely new circle of hell: a heatwave.

Tesla is trying to do its part in mitigating the effects of the heatwave, one of which tends to be sending demand for electricity skyrocketing as AC units work overtime. The company sent out a notification through its dashboard user interface asking owners to charge their vehicles during off-peak periods to reduce their impact on the state’s power grids, Electrek reports.

The message, entitled “Help Relieve Heat Wave Stress on the Grid,” went out to Tesla owners yesterday. It reads:

“The current heat wave is impacting the grid in California. If possible, we ask that you reduce Supercharging and home charging between the hours of 4pm and 9pm to support the statewide efforts to manage demand.”

Tesla also warned customers that some charging stations might be shut down as a preemptive measure against power grid overload:

“Additionally, proactive utility shutoffs may limit charging options As always, your touchscreen will display live statuses of Superchargers in your area – simply tap on a desired Supercharger station to confirm its availability.”

It’s a relatively small — but still meaningful — effort from Tesla in reducing its impact on power consumption. Plus, it's great marketing. Which other carmaker has the technology at its disposal to send real-time updates to its drivers in specific states and make it feel like a feature, not a threat to their privacy?

Some incentives already exist — According to Electrek, some utility companies already provide discounted electricity rates for off-peak usage. It’s likely that many Tesla owners are already taking advantage of this incentive by charging their cars at night or during other off-peak hours.

Setting an example — Tesla’s entire gig (besides forcing its workers back to factory lines against government guidance) is sustainability. By prioritizing the minimization of environmental impact over convention, Tesla has built an empire — and an extremely profitable one, at that.

Tesla goes beyond just creating all-electric vehicles. It also uses its vehicles’ wireless update capabilities to continually upgrade features and keep customers informed about how they can continue exerting a positive influence on their surroundings. In doing so, Tesla sets a high bar for the automotive industry — one other companies would do well to emulate.

How about the workers? — Tesla is by no means perfect. The company consistently prioritizes productivity and profits over its workers’ health and well-being. Tesla's treatment of its workers — especially those in factories — doesn't fit at all with its supposed social consciousness. But then, that's rampant and rapacious capitalism for you. Maybe someday Tesla will value its workers as much as it does its customers. Until then, at least the company still cares about the environment.