Once upon a time, electric cars were uncool, dorky, niche, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that very few people in the auto industry thought they were the future of transportation. How minds and narratives can change! Of course, while it’s easy to look at where we are today and say it was inevitable and oh so predictable, there were some critical elements of the storyline that, if missing, would have put us in a very different place. Take, for example, Mountain Pass Performance — an electric vehicle tuning company who specializes in aftermarket parts and modifications for Teslas.
Although Tesla spurred the movement towards desirable and exciting electric vehicles, companies like Mountain Pass Performance have taken it a step further and support enthusiasts with upgrades that improve the performance and engagement of their vehicles. While the narrative of Tesla coming along and making electric cars cool is widely shared and well understood, there’s a lot more to that narrative than we typically explain or examine. Much of the story is about enthusiasts coming together to create communities and accessories surrounding the product that advance it into becoming a household name.
You see, enthusiasts are what can propel a brand from merely being another cookie-cutter copy to being unique and desired. Apple may have turned the phone world upside down with the introduction of the iPhone, but they’ve maintained their lead over a decade later because their customers aren’t just purchasing a device, they’re buying into a culture, an experience — and their enthusiasm is what continues to make Apple successful. These pioneers of the community will happily spread their passion for the brand to anyone willing to listen. And these enthusiasts are a major part of how Tesla has become so successful and dominant in the electric vehicle industry.
Tesla has, perhaps inadvertently, attracted these enthusiasts by building vehicles with industry-leading power, chassis dynamics, infotainment, and driver assistance. While there may be several reasons owners love their Teslas, today we want to focus on those who enjoy the thrill of driving.
Car culture is filled with enthusiasts who express their passion for automobiles through high-performance driving and car modifications. Ever since Karl Benz strapped an internal combustion engine to a frame, one of the core questions pushing automotive innovation has been: But how do we make it go faster?
In the mid-1930s, bootleggers kickstarted stock car racing by modifying powerful Ford V-8 engines fast enough to escape hapless policemen in the rugged Appalachian Mountains. Eventually, some of those same bootleggers took their souped-up getaway vehicles onto dirt tracks, and NASCAR was born.
By the early ‘50s, racing had become a part of not just American culture but a worldwide phenomenon. As the sport grew, series such as Formula 1 became incredibly popular with names like Jackie Stewart and Aryton Senna; as did the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Ferrari versus Ford’s infamous battles. Yet, these could not have existed without ambitious, eccentric, and innovative people behind them such as Carroll Shelby. There are countless untold stories of enthusiasts who pushed the limits of the time, and grew the automobile into something of legend.
And here we stand, in the early 21st century, on the cusp of yet another seismic and pivotal shift in automotive history. And yet again, the torch to carry the automobile forward will be held by those who explore the limits and advance the “car” into something more than just an object, but rather an extension of one’s self, a unique and passion-driven culmination of joy. Without these driven individuals, and without companies who support their goals, this advancement could never be possible.
I covered the EV revolution from the stage of “What’s a Tesla?” or “Yeah, I know about electric cars, my brother has a Prius.” to today, and one of the pivotal periods was when Tesla started absolutely trouncing high-performance fossil fueled cars on the track. In those earlier days, it was all about straight-line drag races, because that’s where electric cars and their instant torque shine the most. That’s still a big part of the story, but year after year, electric cars more suited to racetracks with turns have been convincing car enthusiasts to go electric. Aftermarket companies like Mountain Pass Performance have especially helped to upgrade suspension, brakes, driving dynamics, and other facets of electric cars (particularly Teslas) in order to make EVs more track-ready and in order to deliver more record results. For example, take a look at this list of racing achievements in modified Teslas and think about how those wins translated into pro-EV talk amongst enthusiasts and then also as car advice to non-enthusiasts:
As with any field, it’s the enthusiasts who push and pull the industry forward. In the car field, that’s not only true, it’s amplified. Cars have been objects of desire since day one, and making them more desirable is how you change the industry.
This article is supported by Mountain Pass Performance.
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