Tesla’s New Model Is Insanely Fast, Has “Autopilot” - Slate.com
10 / 10 / 14
Will Oremus, Slate's senior technology writer
Tesla on Thursday night showed off a new line of dual-motor, all-wheel-drive versions of its Model S sedans, the fastest of which will sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a breakneck 3.2 seconds. That will put it in a class with the quickest production cars on the road.
“Dual-motor,” as many suspected, is what the “D” stood for in CEO Elon Musk’s cryptic tweet last week announcing Thursday’s event. Tesla will introduce three new “D” trim lines for the Model S: the lower-end 60D, the 85D, and the top-of-the-line P85D. The latter will come with three performance settings, Musk said Thursday: “normal,” “sport,” and, um, “insane.”
The front and rear motors, Musk explained, will allow a form of all-wheel drive that is more dynamic and sophisticated than the mechanical systems found in conventional, single-engine all-wheel-drive cars. The result will be a more efficient powertrain that can transfer power seamlessly between the front and rear axles, giving the car not only better handling and acceleration but a greater range and higher top speed.
Those who read Musk’s tweet will recall that he also promised “something else.” That turned out to be an “A:” autopilot mode. And it is already being added to the Teslas that are coming off the assembly line today.
The autopilot system, Musk said, includes a forward-looking radar and ultrasonic sensors on all sides that can sense “even soft objects, like a small child or even a dog.” Among other things, the system will be able to tell “if there’s a car in your blind spot, or if you’ve got a highway barrier on one side,” he added...
UPDATE, Oct. 10, 2014, 12:11 a.m.:
Musk didn't mention the price of the new top-of-the-line P85D during the event, but reports are that it will not come cheap: The Street's Chris Ciaccia tweeted that it may start at $120,000 to $170,000.
The autopilot features, on the other hand, will not cost any extra, and are in fact have already been shipping with all Model S cars produced in the past two weeks.
UPDATE 2, Oct. 10, 2014, 9:34 a.m.:
The new models are now available for order on the Tesla website, and the prices are not as high as the range cited above. The dual-motor all-wheel drive system adds $4,000 to the price of the two existing trim lines of the Model S, so that the 60D and 85D start at $75,000 and $85,000, respectively, before subtracting a $7,500 federal tax credit. The "tech package with autopilot" adds another $4,250, so that you can get a 60D with both all-wheel-drive and autopilot for under $80,000.
The high-performance P85D, meanwhile, starts at $95,000 before the rebate, and dual-motor and autopilot push it to $120,000. There are a few other options you can add, but I was unable to get the price any higher than $140,000. I am not sure where The Street's $170,000 figure came from. (I had previously embedded Ciaccia's tweet mentioning that price, but since it might be confusing, I've removed it.)