Tesla launches official API for app store, third-party services

Credit: Tesla China

Tesla has launched an official Application Programming Interface (API) for its vehicles, indicating that the company could be looking at debuting its own app store soon.

Without sharing all the system details, Tesla has launched an initial tier of its own API that’s expected to evolve into next year and will eventually cost money, according to a report from Not a Tesla App earlier this week. The new API tier is called the “Discovery Tier,” and while it’s currently free, that’s expected to change moving into 2024 — though Tesla has yet to detail price points or plans for additional tiers.

Eventually, Tesla is likely to debut its own App Store, generating money from developers who want to develop and host their own services and apps on the automaker’s in-car platform. The current Tesla API is primarily geared toward fleet management, as seen in the Not a Tesla App image below or on the company’s website here.

Credit: Tesla (via Not a Tesla App)

An API works by bridging the gap between two software applications, effectively letting third parties build apps and services that work with a given software platform, such as Tesla’s in-car software. The launch of the API means that Tesla will be shifting away from the use of its REST API, which is currently in use, and the company’s official API will likely be in full use with multiple tiers and price levels as soon as next year.

While Tesla can offer official support for apps hosted on its API, and the move should result in improved integration and better user control over permissions, the shift will also increase costs and could place limits on specific functions. As Not a Tesla App points out, it may be easy to adjust to for larger third-party services, such as Uber, though smaller open-source software, such as TeslaMate, may have a difficult time transitioning to the API.

In the past, engineers have managed to reverse-engineer Tesla’s API to create third-party apps for tracking certain vehicle details and pushing notifications, and some have even used this method to develop fleet management software. Tesla’s “Discover Tier” is set to allow one data request per car every five minutes, though some services require far more frequent data requests for use.

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Users can navigate to Tesla’s API sign-up on its website here to access Tesla’s API endpoints. Through doing so, Tesla says that an application can request permission to view account and vehicle information from owners and issue remote commands such as unlocking and locking doors, accessing the horn and other similar functionality.

The news reminds us of when Tesla CEO Elon Musk took over Twitter (now X), and how he went on on to revamp the social media platform’s API. Previously free, X created tiered charge levels for its API, some of which are thousands of dollars each month. Some developers simply ended their services upon the shift, while others charged their users more for the software.

After the X API implementation, Musk also threatened to sue Microsoft for allegedly using the company’s data after the company had complained about the change.

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Tesla launches official API for app store, third-party services
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