Tesla Infotainment MCU Computer 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 describes how to 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 gamepad compatibility)
  • Enables video streaming and access to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Twitch via the Tesla Theather**
  • Adds Karaoke and TRAX **
  • Improved roadway visualizations (only for owners of the FSD Computer AP3)
  • Video recordings from front, rear and side cameras for dashcam and sentry mode in vehicles with FSD computer (AP3).
  • Support for 5GHz Wlan networks 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.

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

Currently the upgrade is only available in the USA. Tesla owners will be notified when the MCU upgrade is available for their vehicle and can make an appointment to purchase and install it. This upgrade is available for $2,500 USD plus applicable taxes, including installation. It can only be purchased after Tesla notifies you that your vehicle is eligible for an upgrade. This is due to the fact that the installed hardware is not identical in every vehicle and therefore the upgrade process is not the same everywhere. Tesla has apparently not yet adapted the upgrade to all configurations. According to the Tesla website, owners of the “Full self-driving” option are also given priority.

Conclusion

I think the possibility of such an upgrade is a great thing in itself! What other car manufacturer offers such an upgrade that you can simply have your infotainment computer upgraded years later?

I’m curious when the upgrade will be available in Europe and I’m already looking forward to buying it for my Model S. On the one hand, Dashcam and guard mode would appeal to me, on the other hand I don’t need all the other things like games, karaoke and Netflix/YouTube at all. And for this and a somewhat faster touchscreen operation 2500-3000 CHF/EUR are a lot of money. A positive effect on the resale value of the car could be imagined theoretically, but realistically this probably doesn’t make up for much. I could also imagine a positive effect on the resale value of the vehicle, as the vehicle will definitely be more in demand in private sales than vehicles 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 this thoughts.

We will see how I decide when the time comes. Maybe I’ll use some of the profits from my Tesla stock… 😀