Discussion boards are abuzz with the rumor that Tesla is preparing a firmware update to get its P85D from 0 to 60 mph (96 kph) in 2.8 seconds—four-tenths of a second faster than now.
Tesla’s own Elon Musk—ever the master of publicity—has not denied the rumor, but so far he has confirmed only a quarter of it:
Rumor mills continue to entertain the larger, 0.4-second jump, citing unnamed company sources. It is at least possible that the leaks are intentional. There are many things besides inverters that might get updates, and perhaps the company wants to dribble out the various improvements.
Tesla has long championed such over-the-air updates. And it has already gone on record as saying it would use them to provide certain performance capabilities not offered in the P85D initially, notably by raising the top speed to 250 kph (155 mph) from the current 209 kph (130 mph).
By letting its own engineers play with proposed updates for an extended period, Tesla is also giving them time to push the envelope, so amateurs aren’t tempted to try doing so themselves. (Remember, the dual-motor P85D is itself a hot-rodded version of the Tesla S.)
To go superfast, you must first come to a complete stop before toggling into “insane mode.” Yup, that’s what it’s called. And here’s how some of those customers look the first time they try it.
The rumored software tweak wouldn’t make the Tesla the fastest production car around—that would be the Porsche 918 Spyder. But remember, the Tesla is a car that runs on batteries, a species until recently associated with golf carts.
Philip E. Ross is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. His interests include transportation, energy storage, AI, and the economic aspects of technology. He has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University and another, in journalism, from the University of Michigan.