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People are turning their Teslas into campers

Inside car at night
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Sleep under the stars, but leave the air conditioning on.

A small subculture of Tesla owners are turning their cars into campers, using an unofficial "camper mode" software program that offers a climate-controlled night under a panoramic glass roof, Bloomberg recently reported.

With the rear seats laid flat, the Tesla Model S has enough room to sleep at least one person, provided that person is less than 6 feet in height, noted Bloomberg reporter Tom Randall, who recently decided to try it out for himself.

If drivers want to leave the heat or A/C on all night, they need to make a fix users are informally calling "camper mode." Teslas have a keyless access feature found on many cars today. Approaching the car with the remote key unlocks the doors, and turns on HVAC, and so on. Getting out of the car locks it up and shuts everything down. After a half-hour the car will shut down climate control and so on if the driver does not begin driving within that time.

One is a trick to get around this was demonstrated in 2014 by Tesla owner Bjorn Nyland. Another is a third-party iPhone app that offers "Camp mode." The app checks in with the car every 30 minutes, allowing climate control and other features to remain engaged.

Car owners have tried this with other alternative-fuel based vehicles before. Tesla forums mention a "Volt-ebago," a way to convert a Chevy Volt into a sleeping space.

Randall observes in his article that the 2016 Model S's back row seats don't fold completely flat, unlike earlier models. He used a piece of cardboard to level out the incline, and said the Model 3's seat will fold flat enough to make a space for a person up to five-and-a-half feet tall.

Read the story on Bloomberg.