Published on February 2nd, 2015 | by James Ayre


Tesla Updating P85D To 0–60 MPH In 2.8 Seconds With Nothing But Firmware Update?

February 2nd, 2015 by  

Will the Tesla Model S P85D soon have its acceleration improved to 0–60 mph in just 2.8 seconds, via nothing but a firmware update?

Yes, that’s apparently exactly what’s going to happen… based on rumors (unverified insider information) circulating in specific corners of the net.

Tesla P85D

The interesting, but not necessarily easy to believe, information is coming to us via the user “anxman” of the Tesla Motors Club forum. Here it is in his own words:

I’m happy to bring you a TMC exclusive rumor. According to my sources deep inside Tesla, a firmware update for the P85D will increase its 0-60 performance from 3.2 seconds to 2.8 seconds. I have not personally operated this P85D, but my sources have allegedly seen it in action and historically these sources have been accurate for Tesla rumors. Please take it with a grain of salt because I have not seen or operated this vehicle myself.

My fingers are crossed — though, I’d rather see Active Blind Spot Detection and Autopilot features before this bump to the “Insane” mode.

Those who are currently doubting this information aren’t wrong to do so, but, it’s worth noting here that other forum members chimed in to corroborate the rumor. As far as how it’ll work, if true, another poster (“Raffy.Roma”) on the forum speculated:

Yes the 0-60 time can be decreased by optimizing the torque on the two axis. Actually I read on TMC that such a decrease was possible from the very beginning of the P85D life but that Tesla designers decided to get 3.2 seconds because they didn’t manage to have a continuos acceleration by lowering such a number to 2.8 seconds. In fact they had issue to harmonize the acceleration of the two motors.

Maybe that now in Tesla they managed to work out the issues between the two motors and get 2.8 seconds.

But IMO the driver should enter a password to get 2.8 seconds just to let him think twice before of using such an acceleration.

It should be noted here that Elon Musk actually tweeted a few days ago that “Tesla P85D 0 to 60mph acceleration will improve by ~0.1 sec soon via over-the-air software update to inverter algorithm.” Could this be what the “source deep inside Tesla” was referring to? Or is this just the first of multiple updates of this sort? Hard to say…

(Tip of the hat to Chris DeMorro over at Gas2 for bringing this topic to my attention)

Image Credit: Tesla Motors

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • brody

    Stop comparing the Tesla to the Porsche. the tesla is American so compare it to something like the vette. The tesla S is doing it in 2.8s it has a lot of room to make up with the vette 427 1.98s

    • Bob_Wallace

      Geeze, are you not aware that the Earth is round and that the US is not the center of all things important?

      The Lingenfelter Corvette was not a production car.

      • jt

        What’s protecting you from the possible negative effects of long term exposure to the EMF of the battery?

        • Bob_Wallace


  • Morten Krogh

    One thing for sure is that 0,1 sec improvement will be better. Tesla always keep expectation on the lower side. So in real life this will probably be closer to 0,2 sec.

  • I imagine this firmware upgrade does some fine tuning of the balancing between the dual motors. But, I doubt you can get much more out of it. If you watch the various drag races with the Model S you can see its great advantage is the instantaneous torque as it literally leaps out of the blocks while the other car has barely moved. It take most of the 3 seconds for them to catchup.

  • OneHundredbyFifty

    Assuming 90% efficiency, from an energy / power standpoint at 691hp it is possible to do 0-60 in under 2 seconds. Electric motors can be controlled more precisely than ICE so they should be able to continue to tease performance using firmware.

    One poster mentioned that street tires don’t do much better than 1g. Consider that 60 mph is 26.82 m/s and that g = 9.8 m/s. V = Vo + at. Starting from rest t = 26.82/9.8 = 2.73s. So seems like we should be expecting a Tesla to break the 3 second barrier.

    I hope my buddy Elon has the sense to grab some margins. Apple used to charge an arm and a leg for tiny improvements in performance, 10% improvement in clock speed etc. Breaking 3s for 0 – 60 time should be free money for Tesla to up their margins. i.e. they should grab another $25k per car of margins for that capability. Put that toward the Gigafactory and bringing EVs to the rest of humanity.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps Tesla gains more by reaching back to improve already sold cars – something that I don’t think we’ve seen happen before.

      Lot of good feelings from customers if they realize that they won’t be left behind by tweaks.

      • OneHundredbyFifty

        Agreed but I think they can have their cake and eat it too. Free firmware down to 3 seconds but to cross the threshold grab some additional margins.

    • globi

      Not trying to be nitpicking but 515 kWp at 90% efficiency is only enough to accelerate up to 47 mph at 1 g. (P=F*v=m*a*v (m=2244 kg).)

      With these (theoretically road legal) tires link 2.8 seconds could be doable (since it could accelerate at 1.2 g below 40 mph).

      • OneHundredbyFifty

        Thx, good catch.

    • Dorel_C

      Your result is for the car at 60 mph. Now, the car doesn’t go that fast in the first 2.5 seconds or so, ergo, the results of the same formula would be much different during the acceleration. What you got, is the average at the end of the 3.1 sec. or whatever time it was.

  • Shane 2

    Acceleration from rest is of no interest to me. I’m interested in acceleration for the 50-80 mph range in order to pass slowish vehicles quickly. Drag racing is a complete waste of resources. I suppose all this chatter does create a media buzz that helps popularize EVs.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Well said, Shane 2. I’ve spent much time espousing here and elsewhere how silly it is to get all excited about street legal EVs that squash ICE cars (or other EVs, for that matter) in drag race scenarios. It’s teenage good ol’ boy hot rodder bullshit. This is the sort of R&D that should be taking place on sanctioned drag strips (such as where NEDRA stages their events,) not on public streets populated by drivers sanely obeying driving conditions that take other motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and stray animals into account.

      I generally think Tesla is doing a great job in advancing electric car technology. But stuff like this is basically pointless. Production EVs designed for street use are already fast enough and already accelerate quickly enough. Let’s put the EV R&D into something useful and actually pointing the way to real innovation, like stretching the range from the same sized battery.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The 0-60 speed is important because 1) it destroys the “glorified golf cart” stuff and 2) creates a lot more awareness of EVs.

      • OneHundredbyFifty

        “Let’s put the EV R&D into something useful and actually pointing the
        way to real innovation, like stretching the range from the same sized

        I don’t know how the accountants are doing it but in Musk’s mind this goes in the marketing budget not the technology budget. It is absolutely brilliant. They are getting publicity worth $10’s of millions for free. That money is then freed up for the more meaningful tech development such as batteries, smart car etc. Its a win win approach that is being executed masterfully.

        Musk is smart to put this car in the lead in every category possible. We have already seen what a fair weather friend the press can be. They will turn on Tesla and go after them at any opportunity. We saw this during the fire incidents. These, of course, turned out to be a red herring as Li-ion batteries are far safer than cars full of highly flammable, highly volatile liquid fuel.

        By making the car a leader in every category he now has legions of supporters that will go after and crush any misinformation that is spread on bulletin boards throughout the Internet.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Well said.

        • Benjamin Nead

          Then let’s see Tesla make the car longer range instead of a marginally faster one. I’m not here to snub Tesla or do a Fox News hatchet job on them. I really like what they’ve done overall. But if you really want to get down to brass tack, getting an electric car to accelerate a little faster is not all that an amazing an accomplishment. It’s far easier and less expensive, in fact, to make an electric drag racing car than a fuel burning ICE one. Add more voltage and the motor turns faster. That’s basically all that was done here. Tesla fanboys got excited and Clean Technica wrote two – not one, but two – feature stories in a single day touting the accomplishment. Cheap thrills.

          Anyone who’s been actually paying attention (not all these “glorified golf cart” critics that Bob seems to always run into and who I, for the most part, haven’t really encountered in quantity since around 2009.) will note that the greatest challenge to electric cars today is increasing the range and doing so without breaking the bank of the buyer. The real race is towards 2017, when at least three concerns (Nissan, GM and Tesla) have indicated they want to give us a relatively affordable EV that will go 200 miles on a single charge. Not this silly 0-to-60 soundbite.

          • eveee

            There is all that zoom, zoom, emotional stuff to sell cars, and it works sometimes. Sometimes it hurts the business, too, where Jill Ladziak of Saturn once told the car mags they were ruining the car business. Even the car reviewers relented and said their rears were sore after their long term test rides in the cars they were so excited about on a brief fling.

            Meanwhile, here is a report from Pecan Street Project that says EV buyers start out talking green and wind up buying for two reasons (of course cost has to be reasonable to start or all bets are off)

            1. Acceleration

            2. Quiet

            In the end, cars have to be reliable and meet a need. You can’t accelerate in bumper to bumper traffic. But you can enjoy the quiet calm of an EV.


          • Benjamin Nead

            Thanks for that video. There generally isn’t anything I can fault there. Anyone who has driven an EV will attest to effortless acceleration and instant “throttle” response. But acceleration is relative. It’s rather pointless to have it at such extremes if you are driving in real world urban and freeway conditions. You don’t need a bazooka to kill a housefly.

            Another thing to consider is that many here who have gone ga-ga over this latest acceleration bump on the P85D are probably ones who also find the idea of autonomous (ie: self driving) cars so appealing. It’s no secret that Tesla is very interested in bringing this technology to the marketplace. Obsessive Tesla fanboys will find nothing wrong with this, obviously, since anything Tesla does is . . . well . . . perfect.

            But has anyone considered that anything autonomous is NEVER going to be programmed to peel out like this? The computer will have more common sense than testosterone
            and your self-driving Tesla of the future will accelerate logically to mimic what other cars are doing, react to real world urban conditions and – most assuredly – have a cap on top speed that allies with posted freeway limits.

            Look . . . I took my father’s Oldsmobile Cutlass up to 103mph on a stretch of straightaway with a posted limit of 55mph when I was 16. I don’t think my son did anything like that when he was 16, since he had a lot more common sense at that age than the old man did. Will my grandchild be able max out their self-driving EV like that, even if the batteries and motor are capable of so much more? Probably not. The firmware will prevent it.

            The same firmware update today that mimics drilling out
            carburetor jets and advancing ignition timing of an ICE will be the ones tomorrow that will do exactly the opposite, yet allow the car to parallel park on a 30° grade in a snowstorm without you lifting a finger. Be careful what you wish for.

          • eveee

            I always say more brakes, tires, and handling than acceleration. If it stops faster than it goes, you might survive better.

          • eveee

            Benjamin – I drove the Leaf, Think, a classic Rav4 EV, and this one:


          • Benjamin Nead

            Well, that certainly looks like fun. Being so low slung, even 25mph must have the sensation of a much higher speed. I like it when folks who drive these sort of vehicles show up to our EV plug in events (and, to be clear, I’m happy to see Model S drivers show up as well.) What I would miss by owning something like this, though, is the ability to carry a passenger and a meaningful cargo load.

            My guilty pleasure when it comes to acceleration is my single speed bicycle. The difference between the tightness of a single sprocket and stiff chain on the rear wheel compared to the inherent slop of a multi-sprocket derailleur setup when making a hard start is significant. Granted, the guy next to me on the road bike will leave me hanging once we get up to around 15mph (especially when they’re a third my age,) but I’m invariable quicker off the line.

          • Dorel_C

            Don’t most of the newer cars have a 100 mph limit ? My bro had a new Blazer, and I couldn’t go faster than 160 kph, it would interrupt, would miss like … ?

          • “glorified golf cart” critics: i seem to encounter them anytime i talk to a handful of non-CleanTechnica readers. it’s still a huge hurdle, imho. the more we can break down that myth, the more we can get people into LEAFs, Volts, i3s, etc.

          • Benjamin Nead

            Interesting. The last one I encountered was in December, when our EV club ran a couple cars ( a Leaf and and
            i-MiEV) in a local Christmas parade. It was some guy in his 80s who was part of the Shriners Club.

            The Shriner’s participation in the event was a fleet of what looked like kiddy cars: the sort of thing I might have found myself foot pedaling around in front of my parent’s house when I was 5. But these appeared to be motorized. So I asked one of the guys who was standing next to them what was powering the little cars. He told me that it was a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower motor.

            In a friendly way, I suggested that they might want to investigate electric power, as we had some full size electric cars a couple blocks up the street we were going to be driving that night. He quipped “Hey, wanna drag? and his cohort chuckled. I smiled and calmly explained that our cars were street legal, resplendent with all the safety features you would find in any new car and capable of freeway speeds. This completely stopped them in their tracks.

            I didn’t have time to chat much longer (I was running a quick errand before the parade began) but I thought to myself then that it had been a VERY long time since I came face-to-face with one of these “glorified golf cart” guys. Maybe it’s because I mostly talk about electric cars to people in my own age group (I’m 56) or younger. Our EV club does about 10 public events annually and almost everyone I encounter at these events – maybe 300 or more over the course of a year who I get to talk to personally – always bring up concerns of range and purchase price before anything else. Most must assume, since the cars are licensed for street use, that acceleration and top speed are not an issue.

            Sidenote: I actively flew model airplane a few years ago and electric motors with lithium batteries were quickly becoming commonplace by that time (this is what eventually got me to investigate the rebirth of electric cars, in fact.) The sort of planes I flew, Free Flight contest stuff, tended to attract a lot of participation from guys in their 70s and 80s. You wouldn’t want to start talking about climate change with most of these guys, as some of the goofiest shit imaginable would come spewing out of their mouths. But, because many of them were now flying electric and noting how powerful the little motors/batteries now were, I can’t imagine too many in this segment of the advance senior crowd would carry around the old slow EV stereotypes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You just want to be able to say to one of these people “Hey, let’s get into my P85D and I’ll show you how it can pretty much keep up with a Camry”.

            I guess it would be wise to ask them to lean back into the seat before you stomp down….

          • Benjamin Nead

            One of the things that was drilled into me when I was in retail sales, Bob, was to qualify the customer. I actually disarmed him with my first reply: street legal, safe and capable of highway travel. so I was on the right track.
            “Street legal” immediate kills off the golf cart syndrome for many, as does “capable of highway speeds.” I’ve brought out the flyswatter for the fly, not the bazooka.

            If I would have made an immediate comparison of a Camry
            – which might be the sort of car this old fellow who is probably collecting a Social Security each month is driving – to the P85D – which retails for a staggering 5 times the cost of the Toyota – all I would have accomplished would be to quickly reenforce one of the EV stereotypes I now encounter far more often these days: the one that all those cars are too expensive.

            I would much prefer to tell him that a car he might want to examine would be the Leaf (which, after all, I could have immediately shown him, as I had an example parked just up the street.) Not all that more expensive to purchase than the Camry, cheaper to operate day to day and, yes, a bit quicker off the line.

            If his reply indicated that he drives something more flush that a cheap Toyota, then I’d do the Tesla pitch. Even here, I’d probably emphasize luxury, range and safety aspects and simply imply that performance is a given on something like this.

            If he continued on with a yearning for the old days, when he might have owned (or wanted to own) a Ford roadster with a Flathead V-8 and triple Stromberg carbs, then I could pull the acceleration card out of the deck and go to town on him.

            We’re now told not to oversell the green aspects of EVs. But to now generically overreact and instantly replace those old environmental taglines with tales of balls-to-the-walls speed and acceleration and with price as no object is also ill advised. In fact, in some situations, the hot rodding aspect of expensive electric cars might be a turn off to many. It might be to a grandfatherly-type in rumpled street clothes, volunteering for a children’s hospital organization at a Christmas parade.Here again, qualify the customer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The image of a P85D seatback giving him a dope slap makes me smile.

        • Very well said. Could turn that into an article, or more.

        • Excellent point. Tesla doesn’t have an advertising or marketing budget. Musk doesn’t believe in “branding” as a marketing exercise.

    • sranger

      All of the Tesla Model S do great in the 50-80 mph acceleration range. The acceleration rate starts to drop off around 100mph in these cars…

    • Haggy

      That’s why the P85D is a good car for you. It’s also why the standard Model S 85 is possibly a better car for you. There’s an insane difference between the standard and performance models at 0-30, while both cars will do extremely well for you at 30-80. Nobody would have to tell you which version you were driving if you floored it at 0 mph. But if you were driving at 50 mph and needed to change lanes and speed up, you’d be glad you didn’t spend all the extra money in your case. People pay so much attention to the P that they forget that the base model is very responsive at all speeds. It’s not that the P won’t give more than the standard model at above 30. It’s that either of them will give the performance that most people would expect in real world driving conditions for a performance vehicle.

      Let’s not forget that 3.1 seconds was a consequence, not the goal, of adding the second motor. Maybe we should be talking more about how well it handles on snowy roads in Norway.

  • globi
  • spec9

    I believe it is only 3.2 to 3.1 seconds. A 0.1 second improvement.

    • Aaron

      Depends on who’s numbers you go by. Independent testing of the P85D resulted in 0-60 in 3.1…so 0.1 seconds less would be 3.0.

  • Bob_Wallace

    2.8 would put it at about 10th place in fastest 0-60 (0-100 kmh) production cars.

    Out of the ten two are street legal race cars that have sold 16 units and 20(?) units since 2007 and 1996, respectively. Hardly “production”.

    One of the ten is the $2+ million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. One is the $1.35 million McLaren P1.

    Elon has stuck a finger right in the eye of the fast car companies.

    • RobMF

      Electric cars are better!

      • Bob_Wallace

        I wonder what the Roadster II is going to do? I would guess get into the top five. That would take 2.5 seconds, 0-60.

        The Porsche 918 Spyder has tested out at 2.2 seconds.

        • RobMF

          At a certain point, this crazy acceleration is going to hit legal issues. Maybe there should be a roller coaster style health warning for insane mode?

          It’s just amazing that we have a street worthy vehicle for under 100K that can achieve this kind of high performance.

          • Deven Foskey

            I foresee electrics running into the 1990’s motorcycles problem; they are going to be given a limit before this arms race escalates further. Bikes made after 1994 I believe, are limited to 198 mph by European regulations after Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki were one – upping each other in the world’s fastest bike niche. They started hitting speeds of 210mph before the damper was put on.

          • mike

            this makes no sense.
            you mean its ok for cars costing 2million to accelerate quickly, or a Nissan GT with its 2.9 sec not making headlines.

            But now its an EV that is fast we will have legal issues?

          • RobMF

            Once you start pulling more than 1 g, there are physical limitations. It’s really just basic physics.

            The issue is that the performance envelope potential for EVs is far beyond that of the ICE. You can dump a huge amount of stored energy from a battery directly into accelerating the vehicle. So we will hit beyond the performance of standard combustion engine vehicles in acceleration and we will start to face a safety issue as a result.

            Pretty common sense, really.

          • Thing is: those $2 million cars are only sold in the handfuls. The Model S is being bought by tens of thousands, soon hundreds of thousands, of people.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Panasonic just stated that Tesla will sell 500,000 cars in 2020. If so, a lot of those should be Model 3 versions, but I would expect S sales to grow over the years.

          • 2cc4

            They meant for all cars, not just EV.

        • globi

          The Porsche 918 Spyder only achieved 2.2 seconds because of its abnormally sticky tires. (Which made an acceleration of 1.24 g possible. Conventional street tires don’t usually allow more than 1 g.)

        • eveee

          Yes. And the really amusing thing is, the 918 is a hybrid. 🙂 Who knows, maybe we will develop a new phrase for speed.
          Go like green. LOL.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Just repurpose an old one.

            Faster than greased lightening.

    • Insane. That perspective really explains why this is so amazing. It’s also the only full-sized sedan on there 😀

      • 2cc4

        Your choice of words…”insane.”

        That’s precisely the mode the D features, ironically.

    • NorDesign

      Wow… You shluld move, if only two of those ten cars are street legal yoy live in the wrong place.
      And one more thing, Europeans use 0-100 kmh as a standard, while you use 0-60 mph. Whats quite weird is that the Teslas are surprisingly slower to 100 kmh than you might expect considering a pretty good 0-60 mph time, but the reason is that the whole car is built to do a good 0-60 time (its actually built like a 12 year old would build it).
      Here in Norway Teslas areextremely cheap cars and they are everywhere, standing around with hazardlights going with destroyed DUs….
      Horrible quality, low quality components and scary bad reliability…
      But who cares, i two years Tesla is bankrupt anyway….

      • Bob_Wallace

        Do you have any idea how many km are in a mile? I’m guessing not.

        Here’s a hint 100 km = 62.1 miles.

        Keep shoveling the FUD. You may find your lost pony eventually.

        • NorDesign

          60 miles pr hour is 96 kilometer pr hour….

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Whats quite weird is that the Teslas are surprisingly slower to 100 kmh than you might expect considering a pretty good 0-60 mph time,”

            “60 miles pr hour is 96 kilometer pr hour”

          • NorDesign

            Yes, and????
            The point is that considering the pretty good 0-60mph time its suprisingly slow from 96 to 100kmh.
            In other words the last four kmh are slow, which show that Tesla buikt the car around the 0-60 principal, forgetting that BMW, Mercedes and Audi inform about 0-100kmh. This means the Tesla in reality isn’t that quick.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Where are you finding the surprisingly slow 0-100 kmh numbers for Tesla?

          • NorDesign

            0-60mph : 2,8sec
            0-100kmh : 3,4sec

            Go figure…

          • Bob_Wallace

            You sure you aren’t looking at the Model S time rather than the Model S P85D time?

          • bremselitt

            i sincerily apologise on behalf of the other Norwegians in our land for that man and his behavior
            these are the current figures.

          • AMG65

            Nurrnbergring, wher`s that? P85 didn`t last a Whole lap at Nurburgring, it`s only 21km

          • Bob_Wallace

            The ModS is a sedan, not a car designed for race tracks. It does not have a battery cooling system which allows for driving at top speed for extended periods.

            You are comparing the $100k ModS to specially built million dollar track cars.

          • TheRealCriticalThinker

            “P85 didn`t last a Whole lap at Nurburgring, it`s only 21km”
            It did finish…only the software slowed the car down to keep the batteries from overheating. I don;t think that is going to ever be a problem again with the updated fuse and cells on the P90D.

          • Dorel_C

            maybe he drives a BMW and a cheap one too …

          • Ian Dean

            60 mph is just about 100 kmh, dumbass, I’m American and I know this.

          • Ian Dean

            Also, the 3.4 sec is on the p85d when it was first released, after some updates it got up to 2.8 they probably haven’t tested the for kmh after the update yet.

          • Dorel_C

            maybe you mean down to 2.8 …? or is it up ?? weird.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Out of the ten two are street legal race cars”

        ” if only two of those ten cars are street legal yoy live in the wrong place.”

        Bad reading on your part.

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