In Depth

Should all cars include a ‘dog mode’?

Elon Musk suggests future Teslas may feature remote temperature control to keep pets cool and message display to reassure passersby

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has suggested that he may include a “dog mode” in future versions of his company’s electric vehicles in order to keep pets from overheating.

The billionaire responded to several questions on Twitter after confirming that a new range of Tesla Model 3 cars will be released in the near future.

Asked by one tweeter whether the new models could include a mode to keep canine passengers comfortable, Musk simply replied: “Yes.”

This is “just a Musk tweet, not a formal feature announcement”, notes Mashable, but “it’s not a terrible idea”.

Animal welfare charities worldwide, including the UK’s RSPCA, advise that dogs should never be left in cars on warm days and that people who see distressed pets in vehicles should call the emergency services.

The RSPCA received an average of two calls an hour during the heatwave in England and Wales this summer, reports The Times.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “thousands of animals succumb to heatstroke and suffocation each year”. The organisation adds: “On an 80F [26.6C] day, it can take less than 30 minutes for the temperature inside a car to reach a scorching 114F [44.4C].”

A dog mode like that proposed would certainly “prevent humans from panicking” and “reassure people that pooches are safe”, says Engadget.

So might other manufacturers follow suit?

Specialist vehicle air conditioning company IcyBreeze points out that there are numerous laws in countries worldwide that restrict the use of petrol-powered vehicles when a driver is not present. In the UK, these are known as “stationary idling offences” and fall under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.

However, a recent compilation of state, county and local anti-idling regulations by the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that EVs and hybrid vehicles may not be subject to such laws - which would mean dog owners can leave their electric cars on.

Engadget notes that EVs are already capable of being left running for “hours at a time without flinching”, although it is “frequently impractical” for conventional cars.

Indeed, Tesla “already has a feature to prevent its electric car interiors from overheating”, continues the tech news site. The problem is that “many people are still operating on assumptions that stem from the limitations of gas-powered cars”, which is why adding a message board to reassure passersby could prove handy.

“It might take widespread EV adoption before you can leave your pooch alone without needing a mode like this,” Engadget concludes.

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