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Tesla MCU Upgrade

Image credits: Tesla

Tesla Infotainment MCU Computer Upgrade

Finally Tesla has officially announced the MCU upgrade. The MCU is the computer which is responsible for the operation of the screens in the Tesla (not to be confused with the Autopilot computer). The first Model S were delivered in 2013 in Europe still with the MCO0. From 2015 the MCU1 was used and from March 2018 the current MCU2. This was also urgently needed because software updates and new functions pushed the two older MCU versions to their limits. This is also the reason why some functions like video recording in sentry mode and Dashcam, as well as some games are not available on the old MCU. Because of these disadvantages many Tesla owners of older cars have been waiting for the MCU upgrade.

This article, I explain how to can find out which MCU version is built into the Tesla. Owners of a Model S or Model X built before March 2018 can upgrade their MCU to the current MCU2 version by purchasing the upgrade.

What benefits do I get with the MCU upgrade?

  • The touch screen reacts faster and navigation maps scroll more smoothly. Images and web pages are built up faster. (Example video)
  • Album art is displayed when playing music via Bluetooth.
  • Arcade games like Beach Buggy Racing 2, Cuphead and Stardew Valley (including game pad compatibility)
  • Enables video streaming and access to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Twitch via the Tesla Theater**
  • Adds Karaoke and TRAX **
  • Improved roadway visualizations (only for owners of the FSD Computer AP3)
  • View Dashcam and sentry mode video recordings in the vehicle. (Recording videos is also possible with MCU1, provided that at least AP2.5 autopilot hardware is installed in the vehicle).
  • Display of the side cameras when parking backwards.
  • Support for 5GHz Wi-Fi and LTE mobile communications.
  • The MCU2 has four times more eMMC memory than the MCU1. This means that the problem with defective eMMC modules, as is the case with many vehicles with MCU1, should never occur with MCU2 until much later or during the life of the vehicle. In case of a defective eMMC module and a repair by Tesla, the complete MCU is replaced, which is correspondingly expensive. Currently, however, a defective MCU1 is replaced by a MCU1 again.

** (with standard connectivity only available via WLAN)

What are the disadvantages of the MCU upgrade?

Radio reception via AM, FM and Sirius XM will NOT work anymore after the upgrade. Internet radio and music streaming, including streaming via Bluetooth, will continue to work after the upgrade.

UPDATE: Tesla announced in October 2020 that with an upgrade the radio would still work after the MCU upgrade. Unfortunately it is not very cheap with 500$.

How can I order the upgrade and what does it cost?

The upgrade is available for 2.500 CHF/EUR including installation. You can order the upgrade via the cell phone app by booking a service appointment of the category “Upgrade”. According to the Tesla website, priority is also given to owners of the “Full self-driving” option.

Can I have an MCU2 installed after a defective MCU1?

Tesla replaces a defective MCU1 only with a MCU1. However, it is apparently being discussed that there is an exception. If your car has AP2.0 hardware or higher and you have purchased FSD, you can upgrade to an MCU2 for $2500 plus tax. It is not known when this will be available for European cars.

And what about the autopilot computer?

As several Tesla Service Centers have confirmed, the MCU2 upgrade will also include the AP3 computer in older vehicles with AP2 and AP2.5 autopilot computers. However, its additional functions can only be used by purchasing FSD.

Conclusion

I think the possibility of such an upgrade is a great thing in itself! What other car manufacturer offers the possibility to upgrade your infotainment computer years later?

In November 2020 I gave my Model S the upgrade. This was mainly because of the dashcam, the sentry mode, the speed of operation and the side cameras when reversing. All the other things like games, karaoke and Netflix/YouTube I don’t really need. 2500 USD are a lot of money for this, but I’m happy with it, then it feels like a new car! 🙂 I could also imagine a positive effect on the resale value of the car, because the car will definitely be more in demand in private sales than cars with the old MCU.

Considering that an MCU1 will die sooner or later the eMMC death and Tesla is currently not willing to install an MCU2, a timely upgrade probably makes sense. Read also the TMC Forum about these thoughts.

 


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