Chinese Tesla Model S owners go without navigation due to Google incompatibility

The Tesla Model S recently went on sale in China, but it turns out the popular electric car was missing an important feature.

The Chinese version of the Model S ships without a working navigation system, according to Alysha Webb’s China EV Blog, and the company says Google is the problem.

The Model S navigation system uses Google Maps, which isn’t supported in the country. At least paper maps are still available.

Instead, Tesla is working to develop a China-specific system that it hopes to launch later this year.

This version will feature Chinese-language text and voice recognition, naturally, and will be pushed to customer cars via a software update when it’s ready.

However, there’s an issue with that, too. Tesla typically uses over-the-air software updates for maximum convenience, but this feature isn’t supported in the Chinese Model S either.

So Tesla will push the update through the vehicles’ backend systems. Owners will receive notification of the available update on their touch screens, just like with a smartphone or computer.

The navigation issue is the latest quirk of selling cars in the Middle Kingdom that Tesla has had to deal with.

The company initially had trouble securing the trademark for its own name, forcing it into a legal battle with a Chinese patent troll.

After that was sorted out, Tesla slapped a base price equivalent to around $121,000 on the Chinese Model S, a significant increase over the roughly $81,000 base price of an 85-kilowatt-hour car in the U.S. The difference is due to shipping fees and taxes.

Despite these teething problems, Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes China could be just as important for the company as the U.S. Tesla will have to get those navigation systems working first, though.

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