Over the air (OTA) software updates have been a rarely talked about advancement in the car ownership experience. Tesla showed that what once was only considered useful for small bug fixes can be used to keep your car fresh with new experiences and can sometimes even lead to performance gains. While no other automaker has used OTAs to the extent that Tesla has over the years, we imagine that soon we will see an expansion of this much-appreciated feature from other automakers. One example is the Ford Mustang Mach-E which has OTAs available and might end up using them in more exciting ways aside from bug fixes.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E has finally been released, albeit in a rather small quantity as of now. Ford’s entry into the electric car market is obviously an important one as it will show us how much effort a legacy automaker can put behind an electric car. While Ford has remained a behemoth in the auto world for over a century now, they are now facing an uphill battle to compete with Tesla on their home court.
The current shift in automobiles is larger than just replacing gasoline engines with electric motors. We are seeing changes in how we buy cars, where we refuel our cars, rapidly evolving autonomous technologies, and overall a higher degree of effort given to the technologies and software in new cars. I’ve talked about the growing influence that good UI and software experience will have on car buying decisions as screens continue to dominate the dashboards of vehicles. Tesla has set the standard vehicle software at this point, the system is continually improving and receiving new software updates that fix no only bugs, but add new features. You might not think that having video games, streaming services, or a digital whoopie cushion is essential to how good a car is, and for the most part, I agree, but it certainly gives your car an extra bit of character when you can set up custom horn sound or play your friend in chess while you wait for someone.
Tesla OTA’s have no only resulted in improvements in software, however. On multiple occasions, Tesla software updates have resulted in tangible increases to the performance of the cars. One such example was pushed out to owners of the Performance Model S which allowed the car to lower itself with its suspension and assume a cheetah stance. The lower stance plus increased power allowed the car to shave off 0.1 seconds from its 0-60 time. There have also been multiple times where Tesla has released updates that have improved the range of their cars. Regardless of how you feel about entertainment features in the updates, it’s hard to argue against performance increases.
All of this is to hammer home that OTAs can be a very important tool for automakers in the future that shouldn’t be chained to their ‘intended’ use of just bug fixes. Every time there is a software update it’s like Christmas morning for many Tesla owners. As such, it builds continued brand loyalty and is free advertising as everyone spreads their opinion on the new update.
As we’ve said before no other automaker has used OTAs to the extent that Tesla has, but the Mustang Mach-E might try its hand at providing more interesting updates. Ford CEO Jim Farley answered our question regarding Ford’s strategy with OTAs via Twitter, showing support for something more substantial than just bug fixes.
Yes and Yes. First one coming soon.
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) January 24, 2021
What exactly Ford might consider as “new features” is left up in the air but it is reassuring to know that Ford is looking to better utilize the software experience in their cars. The first one is coming out soon so we will keep an eye out so that we can get a better understanding of what a Mach-E software update will look like.
Is a good feature-rich software experience important to you? What features do you hope Ford will add to the Ford Mustang Mach-E? Let us know down in the comments below.