Tesla's Model S electric sedan will be the first car to receive an over-the-air firmware update when version 1.9.11 rolls out to over 100 owners next week. Wired reports that the mandatory upgrade will alert owners via an alarm clock icon on the car's 17-inch touchscreen, and it can be scheduled for any time. That's a necessary convenience, since it'll take around two hours to complete and the car must be parked throughout. The update can be performed over Wi-Fi or the Model S' integrated 3G connection. Other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz have produced models with similar capabilities, but this appears to be the first time an OTA update will be deployed to consumers.
So, what does it do? Besides some tweaks to the monitor and music system behavior when doors are opened, the main feature that drivers will notice is a recalibration of the Model S' rated range. While Tesla says that the car's 85kWh battery is capable of 300 miles, and there have even been indications that the Model S might exceed that, an EPA 5-cycle test rates it for 265 miles; this will be reflected in the dashboard after upgrading to the new firmware. Tesla says that the newly-adjusted rated range mode will now be "easier to 'beat' with efficient driving."