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Sustainable driving:
Could electric cars be the death of modifying?

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February 26, 2020
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With electric and hybrid vehicles now accounting for 10% of the UK automotive market, 2020 and beyond could mark a major change in the car world. That got us thinking: what kind of impact would the rise of the electric car have on modifiers?

Next-generation electric vehicles aren’t just more environmentally friendly than the cars on the road now, they’re also more “connected” than your average Ford Fiesta. Connected vehicles are next-gen cars that share data over the internet to other devices, whether this is to other cars on the road or gadgets you use in the car.

This allows connected cars to share data with you about accidents on the road up ahead or car faults that need to be fixed. Ultimately, this offers numerous benefits to the car owner and surrounding people, helping to prevent crashes or ensure your car remains in tip-top condition.

But does this mean that if you modify your next-gen vehicle, it could think something is wrong and stop functioning properly – or worse, stop functioning at all? Might you eventually need your dealer’s permission to modify your car?

Could this change mark the death of modifying?

How have modders been dealing with connected cars so far?

While connected vehicles are still in development and fairly new to the road, some YouTubers like Simone Giertz have already had a lot of luck “tricking the system” on next-gen vehicles like Teslas.

Perhaps most ambitious of all the modification projects on YouTube, Simone Giertz transformed her Model 3 into a fully functioning pick-up truck. But her video clearly shows that the connected nature of the car creates a whole host of problems that she wouldn’t otherwise have faced with a standard petrol or diesel car.

The process begins with herself and her team stripping the Model 3 of all its interior parts, including the seats. But as soon as she’s finished this and tries to start the car again, the vehicle refuses to start and warns her of a “safety restraint system fault,” telling her to “contact Tesla service” so they could fix the problem. Simone explained that the connected vehicle was essentially “snitching” on her, notifying the Tesla headquarters of all the car’s faults.

While Simone had a group of well-versed engineers and Tesla modders on her team who helped her overcome these obstacles, resolving them will likely be more difficult for real-world modders who don’t have the same tools or expertise.

What can the current modifying community tell us?

Could electric cars stop modifications like these?

But really, even petrol and diesel cars were once complex creatures to the modifying world – and they still are to those who are just starting to modify their old banger.

In fact, it seems that Google is a treasure-trove of information on modifying a vehicle, with a full range of YouTube tutorials and WikiHows showing you how to easily pimp your ride.

And for a large part of the community, half of the fun of modifying is tinkering with the vehicle and trying different things, fully aware that something could go wrong.

So it stands to reason that as with every other technological leap, modifiers will find a way to get around these obstacles. With a thriving community and curious members, we think it’s only a matter of time before modified connected and electric cars become fairly normal.

Already, it seems there is a growing online community of electric vehicle enthusiasts demystifying the process of getting hands-on with an EV or hybrid. Take Rich Benoit of Rich Rebuilds, who has a substantial following. Rich creates videos that show how he fixes Teslas. EV-focused spare parts suppliers like EV Tuning have also begun popping up so next-gen vehicle owners have the parts they need to mod their ride.

The EV modding community will only continue to grow as EVs gain popularity, and this will probably snowball now the ban on sales of petrol and diesel vehicles has been moved forward to 2035.

In fact, the tech in connected cars could allow us to modify cars in new ways. Who knows, maybe modifiers will start changing their car’s software, like adding a personalised voice for navigation or customising the sound of their horn? We guess only time will tell!

If you do modify your vehicle, you might find that high-street insurers will refuse to insure you. At Adrian Flux, we’ve built our expertise on understanding modders. We work with a panel of over 40 insurers to get you a great deal. Call us now to find out more on 0800 369 8590.

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