Tesla's Track Mode: What It Does and All Its Settings

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla's Track Mode on a Tesla Model 3 Performance
Tesla's Track Mode on a Tesla Model 3 Performance
Out of Spec Motoring/YouTube

Track Mode turns a Tesla into a stunt car that could keep pace with the Fast and Furious franchise, even Toyko Drift. Except while Dom and the other gearheads would be under the hood adjusting or using a laptop and some nitrous for an extra jump, Track Mode enables users to make stability, braking and cooling changes with a few simple swipes of the screen.

Track Mode is available on Model 3 and Model Y Performance variants, as well as the Model S Plaid. However, Elon Musk has committed to Track Mode in the Model X Plaid. He's also said that it could be available for all Models, even those non-Performance models.

Track Mode first appeared in 2018 on the Model 3 Performance. But Track Mode V2, an updated version, was sent to Model 3 Performance vehicles via an over-the-air update in 2020 with several enhancements. Several YouTubers wasted no time taking their Model 3 with V2 to the track and showing the results. It's fair to say Track Mode surprised many people with its wide range of adjustments, ease of use and tire-eating capabilities. It left as many rubber marks as it did smiles in most videos.

Track Mode is completely software-based; however, there is hardware available for purchase on the Tesla website to ramp up the Model 3 Performance even further. The package includes 20-inch lightweight rims with XL Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires, upgraded tire pressure sensors, and high-performance brake pads. Excellent addition but certainly not necessary.

Track Mode in Action

Track Mode Software

Now to the software update that beamed into Model 3 Performance vehicles in 2020. Users select Driving and then tap on Track Mode and enable it. The screen displays an overhead view of the car with green and blue colors on the components that will be used the most while driving the car hard and therefore need monitoring. These parts include the battery pack, the front and rear motor, the brakes, and the tires. A setting tab is also displayed that opens a menu, where the real fun begins. Telsa allows users to make drastic changes or minor tweaks, on the fly, right from the comfort of the vegan driver's seat.

Handling Balance

The first option is Handling Balance, which allows users to adjust the motor bias from the front to the back or vice versa. But that's not all. Like how you can change your car stereo speakers to blast from the rear, the front, or a blend somewhere in between, Track Mode has this set up for power to the motors. The software gives users 10 percent increments to move power to the front or rear motor. This adjustment addresses understeer or oversteer and will play a big part in creating burnouts or drifting around a corner.

Stability Assist

Speaking of drifting, Model 3s have won several safety awards, and many of those accolades may be due to its excellent stability control. The traction control reacts within ten milliseconds to a loss of traction, sending power to the other wheels to avoid slipping and sliding. Stability Assist in Track Mode can be adjusted from -10 to 10. There are several videos of drivers spinning out when turning the Stability Control to -10, not realizing how much the Tesla does to help the driver control the car.

Regenerative Braking

Track Mode also allows users to adjust how much regenerative braking occurs while on the course. Drivers can pick zero, which then goes up in 5 percent increments to 100 percent. Unfortunately, this isn't as useful as it sounds since the regenerative braking system helps prevent the braking system from overheating, a real threat during track time. Tesla recommends keeping regenerative braking at 100 percent, and there doesn't appear to be a way to turn it off completely.

Cooling Features

That's it for sliders, but there are also on/off buttons for Post Drive Cooling, Compressor Overclock and Save Dashcam for Laps. Post Drive Cooling and Compressor Overclock are utilized to decrease components' heat after a track session. While these seem like easy decisions to have turned on, Tesla warns that using the Overclock Compressor will reduce the part's lifespan.

Lap Times and Dashcam

Track Mode can record lap times with you with video footage
Track Mode can record lap times with you with video footage

As for Save Dashcams for Laps, that opens another element of Track Mode. After closing the settings and returning to the usual navigation screen, users can tap and hold on to the icon representing the car, which will set the finish line. After pushing start, the vehicle will use the location to start and stop lap times. When passing the finish line for the first time, the system puts the course in blue on the screen so drivers can follow their exact path. The screen shows the lap number and lap times. This information, video and telemetry data can then be downloaded and viewed on a computer. There is a lot of data, including vehicle thermals, tire use, acceleration and deceleration rates, and the G-meter. Yes, Track Mode also displays the G-forces on the car.

Tesla Warns Users

For all the above reasons, Tesla warns that Track Mode is designed for closed circuit courses. The company states: "It is the driver's responsibility to drive safely and ensure others are not endangered. Track Mode is designed for use by experienced track drivers familiar with the course. Do not use on public roads. It is the driver's responsibility to be in control of the vehicle at all times, including on the track. Because vehicle behavior (including traction and stability control) differs when using Track Mode, always use caution."

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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