Electric vehicles, or EVs for short, have come a long way in a very short period of time. One of the main competitive forces that has compelled top automakers to push forward with new and interesting designs is Tesla—especially when it comes to over-the-air updates. This is a very interesting approach to the automobile market that actually borrows heavily from the software-as-a-service paradigm used in corporate enterprise suites. In short, over-the-air updates can possibly improve an existing vehicle across a number of facets—on both the software and firmware front. This means that vehicles utilizing such updates, like the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E, can have everything from interior comfort to power-on-the-ground performance enhanced.
Yes, you can upgrade a vehicle’s performance with a software update, and that’s one of the big selling points for vehicles like the latest Mach-E. In fact, the 2022 model year outing takes much of what the 2021 model year did and improves on it in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. But there’s more to the annual model year improvements for the 2022 Mach-E that makes it interesting. It’s the very fact that the 2022 model year’s updates also open the door for retroactive updates for the 2021 model year. Essentially, over-the-air updates are laying the groundwork for older model years coming up to par with newer model years—all without actually changing any of the hardware.
How Over-the-Air Updates Work
Over-the-air updates have been around in electronic devices ever since the boom of the internet age. These days, you’ll likely find over-the-air updates commonplace in wireless devices, such as laptops, smartphones, or anything that can remotely connect to a network. This includes electric cars. In the exact same way that you might update your Android or iPhone when notified of a new software change while connected online—either through a hotspot or your telecommunication network—you can also receive the same sort of updates for an electric vehicle…such as the Mustang Mach-E.
Using the HD touchscreen, you can view when the Mach-E has received updates by venturing to the “Settings” tab from the main menu, and then scrolling down to the “System Updates” section1. There, you’ll be able to view which version of the operating system software you’re running—and be able to choose whether updates happen automatically or if you would prefer updates to be scheduled to occur at a specific time.
New features, functions, and even apps are added via the updates, enabling you to make better use of the Mach-E—whether it be on the road or messing around with new games and software while you’re waiting in a parking lot. For the 2021 and 2022 Mustang Mach-E, over-the-air updates are generally set to automatically install if the “automatic update” feature is enabled. However, if there are problems, then typically owners are advised to have the dealer technicians take a look at it. Nevertheless, Ford’s ability to remotely add new features and updates to the Mach-E silently through a simple network connection means any vehicle connected to Ford’s services can be updated or upgraded remotely.
Big Changes for the 2022 Mach-E’s Performance
The biggest change for the 2022 Mach-E is in the performance realm. As many of you know, the 2021 Mustang Mach-E had its battery performance capped at 70kWh of usable capacity. This was a major form of contention for drivers who wanted to make greater use of the Mach-E’s capabilities. However, for the 2022 Mach-E, an update enables up to 91kWh of usable capacity2. This gives you more bang for your buck—whether you opt for a rear-wheel drive Mach-E or the higher-performance all-wheel drive version.
This upgrade for the 2022 Mach-E’s performance has led some to question whether this particular update would be retroactive for the 2021 model year, but sadly it’s not. The usable battery increase is, at the moment, an exclusive update for the 2022 model year, and it will not be updated downstream for the 2021 model year, according to Ford3. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that an over-the-air update may not arrive at some point to increase the performance of the 2021 model.
Obviously, though, the update for the 2022 model year gives prospective buyers a much higher incentive for buying the newer model year Mustang Mach-E vs. the previous model year. More power and more performance thanks to more usable battery capacity is certainly a chief selling point. Of course, it’s also possible that more updates could arrive to bolster the performance even more, which is the benefit of post-production software iteration for an electric vehicle.
Retroactive Updates for the 2021 Mach-E
Okay, so usable battery capacity isn’t being upgraded for the 2021 model year; then how does the 2022 model year help the 2021 model year Mach-E? Well, while the usable battery capacity upgrade may be exclusive to the 2022 model for now, improved charging for topping off above 80% has been retroactively upgraded for the Mach-E. This is probably just as important as increasing usable battery capacity—if not more so. Why? Because it means spending less time at the charging station and less time waiting for the Mach-E to top off its charge after reaching the 80% marker.
Many Mach-E owners noted that once the charge percentage hit 80%, even at a DC fast charging station the kWh would drop down between 11kWh or 12kWh, making charging a real slog from that point onward. However, just before December 2021, an over-the-air update launched to improve overall charging above the 80% marker, so you can get up to (or over) 40kWh in charges above the 80% mark4. This drastically improves charge times, making the 2021 Mach-E far more attractive—all thanks to retroactive updates and upgrades.
Yes, the 2022 model year already has the update for improved charging performance, but rolling it down the line to the 2021 model year is a grand gesture. Basically, the iterative upgrade for the new model year paved the way for improvements for the older model year. I mean, really think about it: How many brand-new model year vehicles in the past had their updates or upgrades retroactively enabled for the previous model year within months of rolling out to the general public? Exactly. So even if older model years don’t receive every new update, with over-the-air capabilities, it’s still a great opportunity to keep older model vehicles up-to-date and competitive in the modern marketplace.
Improvements for New Model Years Help Older Model Years
As the 2022 Mach-E continues to receive new features and iterative performance enhancements from over-the-air updates, this means that those with a 2021 Mach-E can at least look forward to some similar iterative upgrades as well. Obviously, not every new feature that arrives for the 2022 model year will carry over to the 2021 model year. But, updates like the improved charge times demonstrate plenty of potential—whether you buy brand-new or opt for a year-old model.
However, based on the current features available, the 2022 Mustang Mach-E is certainly the better buy for someone who wants a fully featured, highly functional, and more optimized version of Ford’s all-electric crossover SUV. But if the current trend of new model years receiving upgrades with a partial trickle-down effect for the older model years is anything to go by, then electric car owners will have much to look forward to in the near future.