Tesla blocking aftermarket performance upgrades is smart in the long-term

(Photo: Andres GE)

Tesla owners are no stranger to aftermarket modifications. Whether they are performance-based or cosmetic, owners of the electric vehicles are always looking for ways to set their cars apart from the others. While the cosmetic modifications are usually pretty simple because they only change the appearance of a vehicle, the performance adjustments are a bit more complicated because they completely revise the way the system operates. Tesla decided to put a stop to the performance revisions altogether by releasing a software update that would inhibit the simple plug-in systems from functioning correctly.

Thinking about it, it reminded me of a previous newsletter that I wrote a few months ago. I talked about how Tesla was blocking salvaged vehicles from Supercharging in an attempt to make them less appealing to those who were interested in buying them and fixing them up for a discounted price. While it was a great project for some people, Tesla had to realize that salvaged vehicles are rarely fixed “perfectly” and that they usually have some small issues even after they are deemed to be functional. Tesla had to think about themselves first, and for a good reason. If someone were to crash a salvaged Tesla that was not wholly “fixed,” it would be blamed on them and not on the person who attempted to repair the vehicle. The headlines would blame the company, and it would add to a long list of misunderstandings with Tesla’s cars. It was merely smarter for them to try and make the vehicles less appealing through no Supercharging.

Tesla, when you think about it, really had to do the same thing with these aftermarket upgrades. While the company released a $2,000 Acceleration Boost for the Model 3 a few months back, they have ultimate control over what the vehicle’s new capabilities are. They decide how much extra horsepower to give the car, and how much speed the car should be capable of. This puts the risk into the company’s hands as much as the driver’s hands.

If a third-party company comes along and decides to manufacture a simple plug-in that will take the performance of a Tesla to new heights, it is sure to attract some buyers. Owners of the Performance variants of the car are surely going to be more interested in upping the already lightning-fast speeds the vehicle is capable of. While this is all good and fun for the owners, Tesla, as a company, assumes a lot of risks, and it is only reasonable to think that stopping it is the best strategy.

Think about a scenario here: Imagine a Tesla Model 3 Performance owner deciding that what their car is capable of is not enough anymore. They decide to go online and purchase a plug-in for their Model 3 that will increase acceleration and top speed, and they choose to put it to the test one evening. While traveling at speeds over 130 MPH, the driver loses control of the car and crashes into another vehicle, hurting someone in the car.

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The first thing that is synonymous with Teslas and car accidents is the overwhelming flood of people who immediately think the car was on Autopilot. Mainstream media outlets will talk about how the car could have been traveling on Autopilot and TSLAQ will immediately eat it up without any confirmation. The NHTSA would be the only agency that would be able to tell if the car was traveling on Autopilot through an investigation. However, that could take days, weeks, or even months to happen.

Then, you’d have some people complaining about Tesla’s performance standards, and why some of their cars equip unnecessary amounts of speed and acceleration. Not that it is anyone’s business, but when someone buys a car because it is fast, they more than likely know that they are putting themselves at risk, especially if they chose to drive it quickly. This argument would more than likely be small and not based off of much logic, to begin with, because fast cars exist everywhere and every car company makes them in some form or another.

However, Tesla would have to deal with the issues and speculation that would suggest that their cars are too fast for the owner’s good. The company is already under a microscope because every time a Tesla is in an accident, it seems like someone somewhere is talking about it.

These aftermarket plug-ins are also tricky because while the company that makes them probably knows what they are capable of, they are not entirely “compatible” with a Tesla powertrain to begin with. Only Tesla knows everything that goes into their cars and the software that helps them function. There really isn’t much of a reason to gamble on ruining the powertrain of a Tesla all for a few extra miles per hour, but that is just me. I would think that it is too much of a risk, and I wouldn’t want my hard-earned money going to waste, especially if a plug-in can compromise the way my vehicle works.

I think the update to keep these plug-ins from functioning is entirely understandable. Tesla is playing damage control. Ultimately, anything that happens to malfunction on the plug-in, or if the driver were to make an error and it would result in an accident, the blame would go onto Tesla.

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Tesla blocking aftermarket performance upgrades is smart in the long-term
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