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Why Do People Modify Their Tesla?

Teslas are interesting vehicles for several reasons, but one that we don’t actually focus a lot of time or text on are that they are manufactured as cheaply as possible (without dropping key Tesla features) in order to bring down the costs of electric cars and make them competitive with comparable gas-powered vehicles. As so much cost goes into the batteries, there is very little budget left for the rest of the vehicle. Unlike with ICE (internal combustion engine) platforms, with an EV, it is much cheaper for the manufacturer to offer additional power than it is to offer items that enhance the quality of the rest of the driving experience — such as shock absorbers, suspension links, and brakes. Thus Tesla modifications become intriguing to owners.

While it may cost an automaker only a few extra MOSFETs and some additional copper to make a more powerful motor, the difference for quality suspension and brakes is in the thousands of dollars. When you compare the price of a Taycan Turbo to a Model S Plaid, the point proves itself.

Image courtesy Mountain Pass Performance

Many Tesla owners, for that reason, have a lot of interest in Tesla modifications. Those who want to do more than drive around town or take road trips often find value in upgrading the things that Tesla had to skip in order to keep costs low (or … sort of low). The benefits of Tesla modifications to the driving experience can be very significant. One company we’ve seen as a leader in this space ever since it upgraded the brakes and suspension of an early Tesla Model 3 Performance in the summer of 2018 and then shattered some track records is Mountain Pass Performance.

Image courtesy Mountain Pass Performance

Mountain Pass Performance now addresses some common failure points of Tesla vehicles for other Tesla owners, and also offers ways to improve performance. Some of this comes from racing the heck out of their own Teslas. For example, the front lower control arm bolts came loose on their Model 3 Performance on the racetrack at Laguna Seca in 2018! As a result, they developed dowel pins to stiffen the subframe, now included with the front lower control arm bearings the company sells.

It’s worth noting that they team didn’t just get a Model 3 Performance and hit the race track for the first time, burning competitors due to the raw power and tech of the Tesla. They bought an early Model 3 Performance specifically because they had extensive history in racing, dating back to 2007, and saw the car’s potential before many others in the space did. Simply put, they have deep and thorough history in car racing and track modifications that competitors in the Tesla mod business do not have. “We have built cars from the bare shell up into multi-championship winning racecars, including capturing Hyundai’s first win in North American professional racing,” Mountain Pass Performance tells CleanTechnica.

Founder Sasha Anis has been hired as a professional driver to race in IMSA’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series, setting the fastest race lap at VIR. Other highlights in his track career include working as a technical director, as a crew chief, and as a driving coach.

“Through this motorsport experience and using the experience gained building and developing road cars, we have a unique set of skills that allow us to rapidly prototype and develop parts in a way that is not commonly found in the aftermarket. Rather than having to farm out engineering and design to outside companies (or not doing any engineering at all), these items are all done in house, along with the test driving and evaluation of components and combining and tuning the entire setup, so the development cycle is rapid and high fidelity. As a result, we are able to iterate to make the ideal components for a fraction of the development cost, and we pass those savings on to customers.”

To get into a little more detail, the company expounded on some of its early innovation in modifying Teslas. “Some of the things we brought to the market to improve Teslas was pioneering the use of sealed spherical bearings in adjustable suspension links. Traditionally, aftermarket suspension links would either use rubber bushings, which would not provide a performance improvement, or use exposed rod ends, which — inherent to their nature of being exposed — break down, develop play, and make noises. Knowing how quiet EVs are, it was critical to us to find a solution that had the performance of a rod end without the deterioration. So we sourced sealed spherical bearings from Germany that are used in all of our suspension components. This gives the customer a zero compromise solution with the best performance and OEM durability.

Image courtesy Mountain Pass Performance

“We offer an aluminum skid plate that has become quite popular as it protects against battery failure. There have been a number of OEM battery failures from people hitting the front of the battery on something and breaking the coolant tubes – which requires an entirely new battery. Our customers find our skid plate to be cheap insurance – it was originally intended for Model Y customers who were interested in off-roading, but it has become popular with Model 3 customers as well!

“In addition, we have developed electronics that we offer to established and trusted customers that allow more freedom from the restrictive traction and stability control systems Tesla has in place. We had to develop electronics from the ground up for this purpose, and this was made possible from our knowledge and experience gained from prior electronics projects — such as the OEM integration of a Tesla motor in our Lotus Evora, a project called Blue Lightning — as well as our unique 800HP Hybrid Electric Nissan 350z Time Attack Car, a project named ‘Kels’.”

Image courtesy Jordan Lenssen

Critical to any successful operation, but especially one in this realm, Mountain Pass Performance is focused on data collection and analysis. It makes sure to come up with measurable and noticeable improvements with its product innovation. No measurable and noticeable improvements, no product. So, you can be sure every product it sells serves a legit purpose and delivers on that goal.

“The idea is that we want each component to be improving the driving experience of the Model 3 – with the ability for customers to chose their level of aggression. Do they just want a more comfortable ride to replace the jarring OEM suspension, do they want to make the car handle a little bit more like a BMW M3 without being harsh, or do they want the ultimate in terms of handling performance — similar to a Porsche GT3? We have offerings for all of these categories.”

Sounds appealing. Don’t tempt me.

Clearly, the company originated on the race track and that where many of its customers are looking to optimize their Teslas.  The unique thing about Tesla vehicles that has enthralled customers and fans for a decade is that you can so easily transition a Tesla from a premium-class round-town commuter car to a track demon, and then back again, as it suits you.

“Many of our customers enjoy taking their cars to the racetrack for fun lapping days or driver education days, and are finding out about a whole new hobby they didn’t know existed. Something that is very difficult to do with an ICE vehicle, as there is plenty of power on tap with a Tesla out of the box, you can simply improve the brakes and suspension and be hanging with the likes of Porsches, AMGs and BMW Ms on the track, with no compromise to the characteristics of the car when used day to day.”

So, if you’re interested in Tesla modifications, i.e. boosting your Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, or larger Model X or S at an OEM-like quality and competitive cost, hop on over to the Mountain Pass Performance website and see what tickles your fancy.

Image courtesy Martin Brown (martinbrown.ca/tesla)

 

Image courtesy Corsa Club

 

Image courtesy Mountain Pass Performance

 

Image courtesy Mountain Pass Performance

 

Image courtesy Mountain Pass Performance

This article is supported by Mountain Pass Performance.

 

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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