Tesla Motors, the Californian electric-carmaker chiefed by billionaire Elon Musk, selected AT&T Inc. to provide high-speed wireless service to its cars, giving the carrier a much needed boost in its strive to expand beyond its traditional business.
The Dallas-based carrier announced today that all Tesla cars now feature AT&T network chips, which allow two-way connections for safety services like roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location. The new Tesla integration also includes Internet access, navigation and entertainment options on the 17-inch (43-centimeter) touch screen.
“We’ve been working with AT&T. They’ve been the service provider for Model S” in North America, said Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, a spokeswoman for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla.
Unlike traditional cars, Tesla’s Model S receives on time wireless programming updates via an installed cellular system to allow the company to improve its vehicle. Such refreshes are specifically tailored to only start when the car is recharging overnight. Navigation, mapping and data functions in the Model S also need the cellular system.
Chris Penrose, the AT&T executive that heads the telecom company’s emerging devices unit, plans to officially introduce the partnership during an event in San Francisco today. AT&T’s service also allows Tesla to provide in-car Wi-Fi hot spots, allowing all occupants in the vehicle connect to the Internet with their mobile devices.