Article by Anthony Alaniz. Images by Tesla.
When Telsa CEO and technological wunderkid tweeted last week, "About time to unveil the D and something else,” the collective Internet snickered.
Last night, Musk whipped out his new D to a crowd of dropped jaws and questions on exactly how something like that would even work in the real world.
The D in what Tesla has unveiled isn’t some euphemism of male anatomy, but stands for dual motor, a new technology that is just one of the many new items finding their way into the electric car.
Three trims of the Model S are available: 60, 85 and P85, all of which can be had with the new D option. The top-of-the-line, Ferrari chasing P85D is the most impressive product from Tesla to date.
The P85D retains the current 470-horsepower rear motor, but adds a 221-horsepower motor on the front axle, producing a supercar-like 691 horsepower and 687 lb-ft of torque. When it comes to electric motors, full torque is available at 0 rpm, overlay that curve over gasoline engines and it’s even more impressive. Zero to 60 mph comes in at 3.2 seconds, with the quarter-mile coming in just 11.8 seconds. Top speed is 150 mph, up from 130.
The addition of the front motor and all-wheel-drive system make the P85D tip the scales at 4,936 pounds, seeing a reduction in range of 10 miles to 275—which is still quite remarkable. Tesla says the two motors and all-wheel drive system offset the extra weight. All-wheel drive will greatly improve performance, especially for those who don’t have the joy of living in exclusive temperate climates.
Deliveries of the range-topping sedan will begin in December; the package, costing an additional $14,600, does include the technology package, air suspension and 21-inch wheels.
While there are some incremental upgrades to the two lower trims, the majority of media coverage will be on the P85D. The 60 and 85 can add dual motors for $4,000, the cars receiving the option getting different rear motors.
While there will be a huge paradigm shift from mechanical performance to electrical over the coming years, there is another change brewing. The other big announcement from the automaker had little to do with performance and more to do with the fact that the autonomous car is ever closer.
Tesla has added its new Autopilot equipment, which has been part of production for new cars built in the last two weeks at the factory. The system incorporates twelve cameras that see around the car, detecting traffic, road lines and signage. It is a combination of the collision-warning system, blind spot and lane-departure warning systems, and dynamic cruise control.
One neat feature is that when the car is in cruise control, a flick of the turn signal stalk will direct the car to move into the other lane, without any other driver intervention. Tesla has created a car that can drive itself, react to traffic and speed changes while changing lanes with a flick of a switch.
Another neat feature is that a new owners will be able to get out of the car in their driveways and watch it park itself in the garage. When drivers are ready to leave, the car will be able to drive itself up, the car's temperature and stereo system set to the driver's preferences—almost like James Bond’s BMW in Tomorrow Never Dies without the mini guns.
With the addition of all-wheel drive, and two motors with output close to 700 horsepower, it won’t be long for the likes of Saleen, which has already tuned a Model S, takes this car to the next level thanks to a whole new arena of available performance.