Given the importance of Tesla's Roadster for changing the way the general public thinks about electric cars, it's a little strange that owners have been left in the dark as far as a dedicated smartphone app is concerned. While drivers of the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or even Smart Electric Drive have used iPhone or Android apps to check their charging level or even pre-heat the car interior, Roadster owners lacked anything of the sort.

Until now.

Thanks to a bunch of resourceful Roadster enthusiasts at the Tesla Motors Club, the Open Vehicle Monitoring System (OVMS) app for iPhone has been created. Using a combination of in-car module, a server and a cellphone app, the OVMS is designed to let Tesla Roadster owners monitor and control more aspects of their car remotely, enhancing the ownership experience.

The in-car module takes data from the car's systems using the CAN-bus port and sends a signal via a GSM antenna mounted in the car. GSM has been used rather than Wi-Fi to reduce costs. A server has been set up to interpret that information from every car equipped with the module, and the information is then picked up using the smartphone app. Reversing the process, the app can then also be used to issue instructions to the car via the module.

It's incredibly clever stuff, particularly considering the low budgets the Tesla enthusiasts have been working with--a far cry from Nissan or Chevrolet's systems.

Work is still ongoing and though the Android and iOS apps are available to test, using a "virtual" Tesla driving around a virtual Hong Kong, sending and receiving instructions. The modules will soon allow Tesla users to use the app with their own, real cars. Its creators expect the whole package should be available for $99. Then, Roadster owners will finally join other production electric car owners on the cutting edge of remote vehicle monitoring.


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