If there’s one thing I like writing about more than electric vehicles, it’s the topic of how motorsport improves the cars that normal people drive. Sometimes that’s an intangible thing, like the motivating that the pressure of racing can instill, but sometimes it’s more concrete.
The evolution of the Corvette through generations five to seven is an example of a race program that led to successively better and better road cars, but today I’ve got an example of a racing program that’s actually bringing improvements to cars that already belong to their owners. On Monday, Jaguar revealed that it’s applying stuff learned from the I-Pace eTrophy series to push out an update for the I-Pace battery electric vehicle that will boost range by up to 12 miles, among other improvements.
“The Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy has generated a huge amount of data for us to analyze and those marginal gains, derived from competition on the track, are now being applied to customers’ cars to further enhance their driving experience,” said Stephen Boulter, I-Pace Vehicle Engineering Manager. “The new software updates optimize the powertrain control systems to improve efficiency and allow I-Pace drivers to travel even further on a single charge without any hardware changes—it really is a case of the vehicle getting better with age.”
Jaguar says that the changes to the I-Pace include: tweaks to the way Eco mode sends energy (and therefore torque) to the front and rear motors for better range efficiency, better thermal management, and the ability of the battery pack to run to a lower state of charge (SoC) “without affecting drivability, durability or performance.” (The battery is rated at a nominal capacity of 90kWh but until this update has only had a useable capacity of 84.7kWh.)
The update will improve the I-Pace’s regenerative braking ability at times when the battery has a high SoC, and it will regen more kilowatts at lower speeds than before. Finally, the car’s range-calculating algorithm should be more accurate, particularly as it learns how each car’s driver behaves behind the wheel.
If it wasn’t for Tesla…
Tesla might currently be making headlines trolling the world with not-road legal concept trucks and for its CEO blocking journalists on Twitter, but it’s easy to forget the huge kick in the pants that the controversial electric automaker has had on the more grownup parts of the auto industry. Next year’s onslaught of big battery BEVs from companies like Ford, Polestar, Volkswagen, Volvo, and others was going to happen anyway—a function of punitive European carbon emissions regulations that could no longer be met by a reliance on diesel engines.
But Tesla absolutely deserves credit for introducing feature-adding over-the-air updates to the industry. While we can quibble over the utility of unicorns and fart noises, increasing the range and power output of its cars the same way Apple or Google send you a new OS for your phone is frequently cited as a reason for buying a Tesla by its fans. As other automakers have begun to follow Fremont’s lead, almost all have made a big deal of the fact that their new BEV will also be getting new features and tweaks over time.
However, Tesla’s process is definitely more hassle-free than it will be for I-Pace owners—at least this time around. This update requires a visit to one’s local Jaguar dealer, but once done it will also enable proper (i.e., remote) OTA updates. Ain’t the future marvelous?