Tesla owner says his app has unlocked stranger’s car, let him drive it

Tesla owner says his app has unlocked stranger’s car, let him drive it

Rajesh Randev told various outlets that he accidentally drove off in someone else’s Tesla — and his Tesla app let him.
AP/David Zalubowski

  • Tesla owner Rajesh Randev says he accidentally drove off in someone else’s Tesla.
  • He said the Tesla app gave him access to another man’s nearly identical Model 3 sedan.
  • Tesla has not responded to the strange incident.

Using your smartphone as a Tesla car key has many advantages. This means one less thing to carry around and the convenience of unlocking your car, getting in and driving without turning the key.

According to Canadian Tesla owner Rajesh Randev, sometimes you can even jump in and drive someone else’s electric car.

In early March, Rendev got into a white Tesla Model 3 parked on a Vancouver street and drove off to pick up her children from school. The only problem: He didn’t actually get into his own white Model 3, but instead parked next to a nearly identical one, he told The Washington Post.

After about 15 minutes, he began noticing unusual things about the car he was driving, such as a crack in the windshield and a missing phone charger, he told the outlet. As you can see, Tesla’s phone app gave him access to someone else’s Tesla, he told the paper.

But that’s not all. The bug seems to have worked in the opposite direction as well. According to the Post, the other Tesla driver involved in the mix-up was able to unlock Rendev’s parked car with a Tesla key card. So he found Rendev’s phone number on the document in the car and notified him of the snafu.

The dating story was first reported by Canada’s Global News.

All in all, Randev was able to pick up her children and return the stranger’s vehicle, which took about 90 minutes, the Post reported. The experience made him question the safety of his car.

Teslas’ technology features, such as extensive touchscreens and the phone as a key feature, are one of the brand’s biggest selling points. But advanced technology can also increase the risk of hackers — or, as Randev’s story shows, weird software bugs.

Over the years, researchers have demonstrated ways to unlock and drive Teslas that replicate the signal from the owner’s phone or key card. However, Insider is not aware of high-tech thefts or break-ins.

Tesla did not respond.

Are you a Tesla owner or employee with a story to share about this incident or anything else? Contact this reporter at [email protected]

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