Some The best real-time insight into Tesla and its global fleet of electric vehicles – outside the headquarters of its Silicon Valley headquarters – could be seen in the TezLab angle, a tiny facility in Brooklyn.
Now, just over two years after its creation, TezLab is about to hit what its founders consider a turning point, a milestone that could finally pave the way for monetization. And this adds many new features to speed up this plan.
For non-Tesla owner, the name TezLab is probably alien. In some circles however, namely Tesla owners obsessed with understanding how their electric vehicle works, TezLab is a well-known friend.
Tezlab is a free app that looks like a Fitbit. for a Tesla vehicle. Tesla owners who download the app can track their efficiency, total mileage and use it to control certain vehicle functions, such as locking and unlocking doors, as well as heating and cooling. There is even a gamification tool that allows users to earn badges to take steps or complete tasks.
The company has begun adding new features as part of a long-term plan focused on monetization.
One of these features, which crowdsources given as Waze to give ideas and feedback on Tesla Supercharger stations, is now unfolding. The video below shows how this compressor feature works.
The Waze for supercharger feature is considered the "first phase" of the company's project to expand its crowdsourcing community and social network.
History of origin
The six-person team behind TezLab was born from HappyFunCorp, a software engineering workshop that creates applications for mobile, web, apparel and Internet of Things devices for customers including Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, as well as a range of startups.
HFC engineers, including co-founders Ben Schippers and William Schenk, were attracted to Tesla largely because of his technical approach and important detail: the endpoints of the Tesla API are accessible to foreigners.
The Tesla API is technically private. But this exist, allowing Tesla's first app to communicate with cars to do things like read the battery charge status and lock the doors. In reverse engineering, it is possible for a third-party application to communicate directly with the API. (Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently talked about opening the API to third-party developers)
"Basically, the plumbing is already designed to connect to the server," Schippers told TechCrunch recently. "It was the catalyst for us."
A trend of Tesla vehicle purchases has been triggered at HFC. Schippers, Schenk and several other software engineers and HFC staff members have purchased and still own Tesla vehicles such as Model 3. The company's HFC fund provided USD 350,000 for the construction of the first version of TezLab.
TezLab has not captured any owners near each Tesla owner. But Schippers believes they are on the cusp of reaching a critical mass of users. More than 200 owners download the app every week, and this rate is accelerating, he said.
TezLab has a total of 16,000 installations installed on the Apple App Store and Google Play, according to Sensor Tower. . The numbers are all unique, new facilities. The company does not count reinstalls or downloads on multiple devices belonging to the same user. However, this total number of installations is probably closer to 18,000 because many of them are listed under TestFlight, an online service used to test applications.
In comparison, Tesla has delivered 245,506 vehicles worldwide in 2018. TezLab does not expect all Tesla owners to download the app. Instead, Schippers initially targets 10% of homeowners – a target that he thinks is within his reach – and possibly higher.
Even at its current numbers, TezLab has become a massive repository of Tesla data. The company stores between 850,000 and 1 million events per day, and this volume is increasing. This translates to more than 1 GB of data per day, according to Schippers.
"Our system now contains enough data to start making big assumptions about what the fleet is doing and why," said Schippers, CEO of HappyFunCorp and Product Manager at TezLab.
The data is aggregated and anonymous and is not shared publicly. And it is not planned to sell this data.
"I think we can create something really meaningful without getting into data sales," Schippers told TechCrunch.
Of course, what Schippers and others at TezLab have built could, theoretically, end overnight if Tesla changes access.
Tesla could do us what Facebook made to Zynga, and we do not want that, "said Schippers.
Tesla declined to comment on this topic.
What TezLab provides publicly on its website is information based on this crucial data. For example, anyone visiting the site can get a breakdown of the model property, the average trip duration and the average time required between each connection.
As the company adds new features to the application, it is important to better understand how people use their Tesla vehicles.
In the background, of course, TezLab knows more than what it shows on its website. It can quickly detect phantom drain problems if the Tesla API disconnects or if chart spikes appear while charging. For example, Tezlab was able to determine that the number of visits to Tesla Supercharger stations was 84% higher on Remembrance Day than per day in 2019.
The Strava model
Capturing and storing this data is at the heart of TezLab's plan to make money. The application will remain free, even if other features are added.
The company plans to follow the business model of the Strava social fitness network, which is charged for storage, not the features. This data could become much more useful to owners as new features are added. TezLab is studying the possibility of tracking the autopilot kilometers and is planning to do "some interesting things with Sentry mode," the safety feature now available in Tesla vehicles.
This summer, the app will feature clubs that, according to Schippers, will help strengthen the community. The feature will allow Tesla owners to join a specific club, for example in Norway, Brooklyn or San Francisco. It will be designed so that owners can easily find and converse with other owners. And Schippers added, only people who own Tesla are allowed to enter.
The staff of TezLab fits squarely into the category "protector of the kingdom" with regard to Tesla. Ultimately, all of this is about helping Tesla succeed, Schippers said.
"We are looking at what Fitbit did for walking, exercise and motivation," he said. "And we will bring this to the space of electric vehicles."