First Click: all cars should be as upgradeable as Teslas

March 20th, 2015

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Ask a gearhead how a car performs and she’ll likely respond with detailed parameters related to 0 to 60 acceleration, raw horsepower, or stopping distance. Useful to know, sure, but not likely to be experienced outside of the rare obstacle avoidance, be it roadkill or the 5-0. The experience I care about is how the car performs in the mundanity of the commuter slog. That 20 minute drive you repeat over and over and over until your youth is but a memory. How does it integrate with my phone? Is there entertainment in the back seat to quell a kid. Is there a place for my beer? And the experience had better be upgradeable over the ten years I’ll own it. If I can change the user experience on my $700 smartphone, then I sure as hell should be able to update any $20,000 car in 2k15.

Tesla set the bar for what software can do ever since its first over-the-air firmware update was issued in 2012. It’s also setting expectations for new car buyers, regardless of make. Saddled with range anxiety? Don’t be, there’s an app for that. 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds not fast enough for you? Install the go-faster update. Don’t like the user interface? That’ll change, and you’ll get an autopilot too.

Unfortunately, Tesla’s the exception not the rule.

Five stories to start your day



  1. This beautiful Tesla user interface concept is a huge improvement

    Design house Bureau Oberhaeuser is tossing around some ideas on how a next-gen Tesla UI should look, posting a short video detailing how you'd interact with it. The current interface allows you to place two different functions in different panes at the same time — navigation and media, for instance — but Oberhaeuser's concept takes it to the next level.

  2. US Customs is testing out biometric scanners at airports and border crossings

    The United States' Customs and Border Patrol is testing out an ambitious new set of biometric programs, according to a pair of reports in Motherboard. The first leg of the program is a facial recognition system to be used in airport security checks, and is already being tested at Washington's Dulles airport. The system is designed to check passport photos against a person's actual face as they pass through customs, producing a result in just five to seven seconds.

  3. HTC replaces CEO Peter Chou with Cher Wang

    Peter Chou is out as CEO of HTC, and chairperson Cher Wang is his replacement. Chou will "transition to a strategic new role leading future product innovation" as head of HTC's Future Development Lab. Wang co-founded HTC with Chou in 1997, and in 2013 Chou handed her more of his CEO responsibilities in what was said to be a temporary move. She will also retain her chairperson position.

  4. Pharrell Williams makes first statement since $7.3 million Blurred Lines verdict

    "The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else," Williams told the Financial Times. "This applies to fashion, music, design ... anything. If we lose our freedom to be inspired we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation. This is about protecting the intellectual rights of people who have ideas."

  5. Arctic sea ice reaches record winter low

    The amount of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean likely reached its lowest winter level on record last month, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Arctic sea ice typically reaches a high point around February or March, as it expands with colder temperatures. According to the latest figures from the NSIDC, this year's maximum point is the lowest since satellite observations began in 1979.

Eclipse of the day