With major production hurdles looking more like they are in the rearview mirror, Tesla is starting to roll out small updates for the now tens of thousands of Model 3 owners in North America. According to Business Insider, the company is rolling out a new software update that is designed to give the Model 3 a quick boost.
In order to make a regular car go faster on the track, people have the option to add go-fast components like a turbocharger. They can also decide to include better fuel and improve handling components like brakes and tires. Carmakers can also make a dizzying amount of software tweaks to everything from the stability and traction control systems to throttle mapping and how much fuel gets into the engine.
But with an electric car, the software is the star of the show. Code controls everything. That is why Tesla can introduce Track Mode to the Model 3 with a software download, unlocking new features designed to get the electric sports sedan around a track faster than before.
It cannot be denied that one of the stranger decisions Tesla made with the lower-cost Model 3 sedan was to give owners just two ways to unlock the car’s doors: with a credit card-sized key or with their smartphones. But the company has changed course and started selling a $150 Model 3-shaped key fob on its website.
The Model 3 key fob is different from the ones for the Model S and X in more than just its specific shape. It also does not allow for “passive entry,” which is a setting that unlocks the cars (and pops open the driver’s side door) when the key fob is within a certain range, offering the illusion that the car sees you coming.
With an electric car like the Model 3, a whole new box of tricks is unleashed. Like Ludicrous Mode did for straight line launches — maximizing everything in Tesla’s arsenal for pure zero-to-60 performance — Track Mode does for autocross and circuit driving.
Among other things, the Model 3 Performance can drive the front and rear motors individually, determining the driver’s intentions and the state of the vehicle, to help control the car’s rotation. If the car needs to turn more, the Model 3 will torque-bias towards the rear. If the car’s rotation is “excessive” — that is, turning too much — it will opt towards front-biased torque.
In other words, it uses the drivetrain to help turn the car. This is not new technology, of course. Other carmakers have long used differentials and braking to help move power to different wheels. But an electric car, with separate electric motors, opens up a whole new world of possibilities that people only just beginning to examine.
Basically, Tesla’s engineers have increased the regenerative braking characteristics of the car. Releasing the accelerator will now command maximum regenerative braking — that is, the car will begin charging the batteries as much as it can while slowing the car, as soon as the pedal is lifted. This helps save the brakes (one of the key limitations on a track day), and charges the battery as well.
The recent update that landed recently was the “track mode” Tesla started promoting earlier this summer. Available on all “performance” versions of the Model 3 via a software update, track mode more actively manages the car’s stability to improve performance on racetracks or in autocross settings. Power will shift in real time between the front and rear motors to make sure that the car has the best chance to make it through a corner without any trouble, while other features like proactive cooling make sure the battery pack suffers the least amount of abuse possible.