Software updates over performance upgrades

Are cold air intakes, performance chips and superchargers overtaken by a software update?

Electricheads are the petrolheads of the new generation. Just a few weeks ago, Faraday Future unveiled their five seater family MPV that did the 0-100kmph sprint in just 2.39 seconds! Can you imagine a family of five snickering at the bloke they just beat to the quarter mile driving a La Ferrari or a McLaren P1? In our race for Nürburgring lap times and building hypercars that go faster than we’ve ever seen them go – more horsepower, big turbochargers, turbochargers plus superchargers, cold air intakes, performance exhausts, you put the works and a car with a big battery beats you at the stop lights. I think it is time for enthusiasts to stay off drag strips and enjoy the switchbacks, let the petrol engine appeal to your senses and not your ego, because the ego will be shattered when a Tesla or a Faraday Future rolls in to the lane next to yours.

The Faraday Future FF91 promised a lot for a few weeks but the king of electric cars, Elon Musk was going to have the last laugh (for now). All Tesla did is gave the P100d a ‘Ludicrous+’ software update and that was enough to get it to do the 0-100kmph sprint in 2.389 seconds, 0.011 seconds faster than the FF91. It’s a small margin but it still gives Tesla bragging rights. And guess what, every P100d owner who has bought the car in the past can go that fast with just a software update. Can you picture that? Hypothetically, you buy your car in 2017 and it can do a certain speed that year. In 2018 it goes a second faster, and the year after that, another half second is shaved off its sprint time, all without doing any mechanical modification. A set of stickier tyres, stronger brakes and maybe upgrades to suspension is all you will need. All the costly powertrain modifications are replaced by software updates.

You can bet there is more acceleration in store. The Tesla Model S in the Electric GT series can do 0-100kmph in 2.1 seconds. It makes 778 horsepower and 995Nm of torque, gets Pirelli PZero slicks, top speed is capped at 250kmph and the race length is of 60 kilometres (because the batteries will run out of charge that fast with the cars drawing so much energy out of the battery). And Electrics are just about getting started. We’ll be looking for plug points over petrol stations soon.

About the author

Anand Mohan

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