I got this email today:
We are performing network maintenance from Monday, May 28, 2018 at 9pm PDT to Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 2am PDT, and would like to inform all owners that there may be intermittent disruption to the Tesla app during this time. We recommend that owners keep their key fobs and key cards on hand. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Ok so it's not unheard of for a popular service to take an outage to do maintenance. But when a life could be on the line, it is completely unacceptable. To be fair, getting locked out of your car is not generally life threatening. But if you are are in a secluded area, it could be. Yes, you could use your phone to call for help, but don't call Tesla's road side assistance because your phone might very well go dead before you talk to someone. I can say this with confidence because I called it once. I never got to talk to a person and after 20 minutes on hold, the signal dropped.
And really, relying on a cellular data connection to drive the car is just a bad idea because there are just too many ways that can fail.
What Tesla should do is modify the app and the car firmware to allow the phone to contol vital functions via a direct bluetooth connection. Clearly this would need to be done very carefully to ensure that spoofing could not occur.
Now, this would not stop someone from getting into trouble if their phone dies entirely while the car is off or if they lost their phone. But this is mirrored by losing you key fob or it's battery going dead. So I feel like at that point they would be on even footing.
Don't get me wrong, it think people who take the risk of driving a Tesla without a key fob present are being silly currently. However, Tesla clearly knows their customer base does not always do this and thus should either disable driving without the fob or make it so that the risk with and without a fob are much more similar.