A $2,000 software update makes the Tesla Model 3 quicker

Tesla Model 3 Red
Tesla Motors

How much would you pay to make your car quicker? Tesla reckons customers will cough up $2,000 for software that slices a few tenths of a second off the zero to 60 mph of the Model 3.

Tesla now offers an “Acceleration Boost” software update for the dual-motor all-wheel drive Model 3 that reduces the zero to 60 mph time from 4.4 seconds to 3.9 seconds, according to Autoblog. Tesla also offers a “Performance” version of the Model 3 that can do zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds straight out of the box, so the upgrade could lower that time even further. Owners must be running version 2019.40.2 of Tesla’s operating system to qualify for the upgrade, according to Teslarati. Single-motor, rear-wheel drive models could get a similar upgrade as well, according to DragTimes.

This is the first time Tesla has charged customers for an after-purchase performance upgrade, but it has allowed customers to unlock other features. Tesla owners have previously been able to increase the usable capacity of certain models’ battery packs through after-purchase payments, or add Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist system. Tesla installs all of the necessary hardware for Autopilot at the factory, so enabling the system on a given car is down to software. Tesla has also provided numerous upgrades and new features to customers for free through regular over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

Tesla pioneered software-based performance upgrades, but other automakers are slowly catching on. Volvo has offered software upgrades for certain plug-in hybrid models that boost horsepower. Jaguar recently released an update for the I-Pace to improve range. Modern cars rely heavily on computers, so tweaking software can often yield as much improvement as changing physical parts. Software does have its limitations though: Tesla is working on a performance upgrade for the Model S — code-named “Plaid” — that is expected to include some mechanical changes.

Other automakers are also copying Tesla’s OTA update scheme. Ford has promised that “nearly all” of its vehicles will get OTA update capability in 2020. Similar to Tesla, Ford has said updates will be available for all aspects of a car, and can be set to run at night while the car is parked. General Motors has said OTA update capability will be included in a new electrical architecture rolling out in Cadillac luxury cars, but hasn’t offered any other details.

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