There's something to be said for a physical key to unlock and start your car. Tesla drivers around the globe found that out last week when the app they use to perform such functions was apparently affected by an outage, leaving them stranded. The BBC reports that just after 4:30pm ET on Friday, hundreds of complaints started pouring in about the Tesla app to Downdetector.com, which keeps tabs on outages at various servers and websites. "I'm stuck an hour away from home because I normally use my phone to start [my] car," one user tweeted.
Per CNET, the reports mentioned a "500 internal server error," which didn't offer drivers much to go on. One journalist in South Korea griped about his issues on Twitter, tagging Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Musk replied: "Checking..." A few hours later, he offered the user his apologies and said things "should be coming back online now." His explanation: a somewhat confusing "looks like we may have accidentally increased verbosity of network traffic."
In regards to a physical key that opens and starts a car, there actually is a "secondary mechanism" that Tesla drivers can use, Stuart Masson, editor of the Car Expert website, tells the BBC, adding that trouble arises when drivers neglect to carry it with them. NPR notes that mechanism is a key fob or key card that comes with the car.
"Technology makes things convenient, but relies on a server working 100% of the time," Masson says, per the BBC. "It's the same as leaving the house without my credit cards, expecting to pay for things with my smartphone. If we are reliant on one mechanism all the time, we can be caught." Both CNET and NPR note they would've tried to get a comment from Tesla, but the company no longer has a PR department to deal with such matters. (Read more Tesla stories.)