The “Track Mode” feature in the Tesla Model 3 allows drivers to manually adjust all sorts of features, from battery temperature to brakes, to push their Tesla to the limit. A recent Road & Track test drive showed what it could do, and a new interview with Tesla CEO Elon Musk explains the thinking behind it.
Something like Track Mode might only happen at Tesla, a company filled with nerds who like to futz with the settings. Electric, battery-powered cars will never beat gasoline-powered cars over sustained distances around a track — the batteries overheat and wear down and need time to be re-charged or replaced, whereas one can just fill the up the gas tank of a Mustang — but with Track Mode, users can turn the knobs on their vehicle to achieve higher performance that transforms a Tesla.
“We’re basically a bunch of nerds here,” Musk told Marques Brownlee in a recent interview for Brownlee’s wildly popular YouTube channel.” With Track Mode, you can open up a lot of settings. It’s basically like an expert user mode and you can adjust traction control, adjust battery temperature; you can basically configure a bunch of things.
“[The car’s computer] will tell you, ‘if you do this, it’s a bit risky; you’re going to wear out your brakes a little sooner, you might blow a circuit.’ But it’ll be clear, ‘this is the risk that you’re taking.’ It’s kind of like if you have a graphics card in your computer, you can go in there and you can change the settings and over-clock things.
Track Mode will cause drivers to wear out their Tesla faster if the settings — suited for short-term performance — are kept in place over the long-term, but the ability to change those settings is what makes it Tesla, in Musk’s view.
The public conversation between Brownlee, 24, arguably the best technology-focused YouTuber, and Musk, has gone on for much of the year on Twitter. Brownlee invited Musk onto his YouTube channel back in June, and this week Musk took him up on the offer, giving him a tour of the Tesla plant in Fremont, California and having an on-camera conversation about Tesla with Brownlee.
Watch the full interview above, and below, here’s what Track Mode can make a Tesla do, courtesy of a video posted to Brownlee’s Instagram. Prepare yourself for the sound of squealing tires: