Tesla is planning to roll out a new version of “Launch Mode” for the Model S and Model X “Raven” according to a leak of the soon-to-be-released software update. The new Launch Mode uses adaptive suspension along with powertrain upgrades to improve the performance of the already lightning-quick vehicles.
A Tesla hacker known as “green” leaked some of the newest updates that include a revised Launch Mode and Autopilot updates to respond automatically to red traffic lights and stop signs.
The newest update aims to improve traction when launching the vehicle from a standstill by altering its stance through the car’s Adaptive Suspension system, a feature available only on the Model S and Model X.
Release notes for the newly revised version of Launch Mode state the feature “provides optimum acceleration for closed circuit driving and surfaces with good traction. Please set suspension to LOW prior to launch.”
The user who leaked the release notes refers to this lower mode as a “cheetah stance,” referring to the animal’s visibly reduced height on its front legs. This stance increases the animal’s ability to launch after prey by improving its traction, increasing its effectiveness during high-speed chases in the wild.
Tesla’s revisions to Launch Mode do precisely this. While increasing traction and adjusting damping, the lowering of suspension improves a vehicle’s aerodynamics. As the front of the car is lower, less air will get underneath of the vehicle. This decreases vehicle drag, leading to faster acceleration and increased handling. While the rear of the car remains in a slightly higher position, it allows air trapped under the car an outlet to leave. This raises a car’s “streamline” effect and makes it travel more efficiently by displacing unnecessary air.
Lowering suspension is a popular move among car enthusiasts for these reasons specifically. Lower suspension leads to better handling, but reducing the height of the front axle specifically would be better for drag racing scenarios as it allows the vehicle to displace air more efficiently.
Tesla’s aim for its vehicles has always been to allow owners to experience some of the highest-performing cars on the market today. The company has a unique ability to increase the performance of its vehicles through Over-the-Air software updates. The newest update not only includes revisions to Launch Mode to increase the Model S and X Performance variants, but also additions in the company’s Driving Visualization feature.