Something previously unheard of happened this week in the automotive world. Just by an over-the-air software update, Tata Motors increased the claimed driving range of the Nexon EV Max from 437 km to 453 km.
Just to reiterate, there were no changes to the hardware, and the battery size of this electric car (40.5 kWh) remains the same.
Anand Kulkarni, vice-president, Operations, Product Line and Purchase & Supplier Quality, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, told FE that OTA updates are the new normal in the world of automotive, especially electric cars.
“Call it the power of analytics; we have the data, and using that we can improve how a car functions,” he said.
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What Tata Motors did?
While the battery size remains the same, over the last many months Tata Motors has been studying how its electric cars are using energy. Kulkarni told FE that it’s not the energy inside the battery, but the manner in which that energy is getting utilised is what gets translated into range.
“All electric cars are connected, and we have access to how these are expending energy. We have data on how much energy is being consumed by, let’s say the fan or the pump, and how much we can optimise,” he said. “Using that data, we have recalibrated and optimised some of these working conditions and have altered the limits that were previously set in the Nexon EV Max. That alteration has led to the car using less energy per kilometre, thereby increasing its driving range.”
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Kulkarni, however, added that there is a limit to this range increase. “While we have increased the range of the Nexon EV Max from 437 km to 453 km, further increasing it may not be possible,” he said. “With this update, the Nexon EV Max is working on its maximum efficiency levels.”
OTA software updates can also do ‘soft’ changes to a car, like updating in-car maps or infotainment features.