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Tesla adds 2-motor all-wheel drive and advanced driver assistance “Autopilot” to Model S

Tesla Motors is adding a two-motor all-wheel drive option for its electric Model S as well as a standard set of forward-looking camera, radar and 360˚ ultrasonic sensors that will, over time with software updates, provide increasing autonomous drive capabilities.

The two-motor all-wheel drive option—designated by the “D” teased by Elon Musk over which the Internet was all atwitter—is available on all three Model S variants (60, 85 and P85) at $4,000 for the 60D and 85D models and as a $14,600-option for the P85D. (The high performance P85D requires the Tech Package, Smart Air Suspension and 21" wheels as well.) D-model deliveries begin in February.

For the lower two models, the 60D and the 85D, Tesla is basically maintaining similar total motor output—i.e., the output of the front and rear motor together are essentially the same as the output of the single rear motor in the rear-wheel drive models, although the sedan as a whole benefits from a boost in range and performance.

For the top-end performance-oriented P85D, however, Tesla kept the same rear motor and added a 221 hp front motor, kicking combined output up to a whopping 691 hp and endowing the car with a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds, while still benefitting from a range enhancement, albeit smaller than that of the 85D.

Model S drive comparisons
  60 kWh 85 kWh 85 kWh
Model: 60 60D 85 85D P85 P85D
Total motor power (hp) 380 376 380 376 470 691
Rear motor power (hp) 380 188 380 188 470 470
Front motor power N/A 188 N/A 188 N/A 221
Range (miles) 208 milesa 225 milesb 265 milesa 295 milesb 265 milesa 275 milesb
0-60 mph (sec) 5.9 5.7 5.4 5.2 4.2 3.2
Top speed (mph) 120 125 125 155 130 155
a EPA-rated
b Range at 65 mph

Autopilot. The advanced driver assistance functions Tesla is calling “Autopilot” are based on the set of camera, radar and sensors integrated in the Model S. Activating them as part of the Tech Package option ($4,250) opens the door for future functionality enhancements through Tesla’s software updates.


Tesla has always leveraged its ability to use over-the-air software updates to increase the functionality of the Model S; in this, the company truly shows its Silicon Valley heritage. Tesla recently had sent out Software 6.0 for the Model S, adding:

  • Traffic-based navigation (still in beta)
  • Commute advice
  • Calendaring (beta)
  • Remote start
  • Location-based air suspension
  • Naming your car
  • New power management options

Autonomous driving is still an emerging area, in regulatory policy perhaps more so than in technology and functionality; leveraging standard hardware using the over-the-air software updates capability to grow the Model S’ capabilities pari passu with the advance of the field makes a great deal of sense.

Pricing. For a “basic” Model S 60D with Autopilot/Tech Package with Supercharger enabled ($2,000), the cash prices rises to $79,320 (prior to subsidies). For a P85D kitted out with optional carbon spoiler, premium interior, and premium sound system (but not the winter package or two rear-facing seats) the price is up to $128,170.



I want Tesla to build a model based on just the front power train.
I can do just fine with 188 hp, done fine with much less than that.


More power, more range, together with increased speed and acceleration is a lot to brag about?

The AWD will be another plus, specially in snowy places like the northern mid-west and eastern States, Norway etc.

Will driving (cruising) with one e-motor ONLY increase e-range?


Does it weight more ?

I'm more impressed by a 30 mile range increase than the benefits of AWD. That increase is nearly half the total range of several mainstream EVs at freeway speed.

The other OEMs have a lot of catching up to do.


Yep, weight is up by a couple of hundred pounds or so to just under 5,000 lbs (!)


If you lived where it snows a lot and there are mountains, you might want AWD. I live in Utah and would have a hard time without AWD or 4WD. I have had to chain up all 4 and use low range but admittedly that was for driving on unpaved roads in inclement weather. Anyway, AWD drive would make the Tesla much more attractive here.

Nick Lyons

Why are the range comparisons apples and oranges? Old range is EPA, new 'improved' range is constant 65mph. Hmmm...

Good point, sd. No doubt AWD is useful, even necessary in some regions. I'm just pointing out that Tesla's incremental increase in range is quite significant in light of the competition's capabilities.

Vehicle weight is a number that most drivers will be oblivious to in daily driving. An 11.3% increase in range or shaving a full second off an already blistering 0-60 time, and AWD handling and stability are a significant accomplishment.

I think it would not be overstated to call it a "wow factor".

Account Deleted

The Verge has a nice comparison with the world's best gassers. There are no gassers that even get close to match the combination of acceleration, price and space of the Tesla P85D. The world's best gasser alternative (taking price into consideration) in my opinion would be Audi RS7 ($106,500): 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Disregarding price it would be Porsche Panamera Turbo S ($180,300): 0-60 in 3.6 seconds.

See for yourself

Now we just need the larger Model X and Tesla will by all standards be the automaker offering the world's best car. Super nice surprise that 4WD only cost 4000 USD extra for the Model S 60D and S 85D.

The range cannot be compared until the EPA rating of the D models have been made. The Ds weight more so Tesla is probably required to obtain new EPA certification for these versions. Deliveries start in December so there we will know the EPA rating for the D's.


Slightly off subject but I was surprised not to see an article on this Green Car Congress. Apparently GM has announced that they will have a new electric vehicle. This is from an article in today's NY Times

"According to a report by Automotive News, the car — which is expected to appear in 2017 — would be based upon the Chevrolet Sonic and have a range of about 200 miles."

Obviously not a competitor for Tesla but it will probably be more affordable for more people.

Account Deleted

I wonder why the lower weight model S60 has slower acceleration than the more heavy S85 as both models have the same hp? Also the S60D and S85D accelerate faster than the S60 and S85 despite having less total hp? I am curious for an explanation of both phenomenon.



I think that I can explain why the S60D and S85D out accelerate the S60 and S85. If you have sufficient power to induce wheel spin, you can launch faster with AWD. After the initial launch power when you no longer have enough power to spin the wheels, power to weight is more important.


Acceleration is a function of torque, not horsepower. I have not seen torque figures yet. Also, as sd noted, 4WD makes a difference.

Bob Wallace

Tesla has now been making cars with autopilot features for two weeks. Every car coming off their line.

And we were speculating whether we'd see self-driving cars in a few years or never.

The Teslas self-drives itself on private property. It can't legally do so on public roads. The will stop in your driveway and let you get out. And then they will open the garage door and park themselves. In the morning they'll meet you at your door with the AC/heater running and your music playing.

Next step, according to Elon, is plugging themselves in. Of course there's always wireless charging.


I found some torque figures. P85D has 687 vs. 443 lb-ft for the P85, and 362 lb-ft for the D versions of the 85 and 60 vs. 325 for the single motor versions.

Account Deleted

Thank you Chris. I wondered because electric motors should have maximum torque from 0 rpm and up so hp and torque should be the same (proportionally at least) for electric motors using a single fixed gear ratio as model S does? Now that I have given it more thought the reason must be that Tesla has used another gear ratio providing more combined torque for the Model S Ds. The same could be the case for why S85 is faster despite being heavier and with less (peak) hp. The larger battery of the S85 may be better suited to provide higher sustained hp in model S85 than in model S60 so that could also explain the higher top speed for model S85 that should be based on what the car can keep doing until it runs out of electrons.

SD I buy the spinning explanation as well. I think the only way you can make the Tesla spin is to deactivate the anti spinning system. It could be that the anti spinning system prevent the motor from ever delivering the peak 380 hp in order to achieve max acceleration. With 4 wheels working in principal twice as much power should be possible to move the car than just 2 wheels regardless of peak hp provided that peak hp will spin the wheels.

Another thing is that Tesla's 4WD in combination with the most sophisticated autopilot system and a top crash rating should also make the Model S the safest car in the world.


Dual motors give you:
* improved acceleration
* ability to run taller final drive gearing in front, thus improving efficiency at higher speeds
* redundancy in case of one drive failure
* improved regeneration given that the front axle bears the brunt of deceleration
* torque vectoring with appropriately-controllable diffs (though quad-motor would likely be better)

Dual motors is really the way to go, and I reckon uptake on that option will be pretty high given the benefits.


Found this interesting;



The Audi R8e and Mercedes SLS both have four motors with torque vectoring.

Roger Pham

Now, I can propose a potential replacement for the planned lower-cost and smaller-sized Model III.

For the next model, please base it exactly on existing full-size Model S and X to reduce development cost, down to the last details.
Now that there is a differential unit in the front axle, the next step is to replace the front e-motor with a 1-liter-3-cylinder-turbocharged engine capable of 90-100 kW of power.
Then, remove nearly all battery capacity and leave behind only 10-15 kWh of battery. About 1000 lbs worth of battery can be removed. Downsize the rear motor from 188 hp to 120 hp to save more weight and cost, as well as reduce the weight from the wheels, tires, and suspension to save even more weight. Try to keep the final curb weight down to 3500 lbs from the original 5,000 lbs, while keeping the car the same size in order to maintain customer appeal for big cars.

Next step: Cancel Model III development to save money. Model III is too small for wide appeal, and priced too low to get enough profit out of it!
Do sell this full-sized but lightened-up and lowered-cost PHEV version at a price point closer to that of Model III to realize vast growth in customer base while still maintain high profitability due to the low cost of the engine and fuel tank.

So, rich customers will still be offered all-electric 85-kWh models for exclusivity, elegance, and status, while less affluent customers can get something of the same size, same design, same range, and same performance for 1/2 the cost. A win-win-win formula for everyone!


Watch this;

That's right, he said the car can read speed-limit signs and automatically change speed to match.

Account Deleted

Porsche did a Tesla model S with a combustion engine and an electric motor. It is the 2 wheel drive Panamera S E-Hybrid starting at 96,100 USD in the US. It does 0 to 62 mph in 5.2 sec. The Model S 85D also does 0 to 62 in 5.2 sec but it is 4WD starts at 85,070 USD in the US. Which car do you prefer. The polluting more expensive, less safe and comparatively poorly handling Porsche or the Model S?

Porsche currently builds the cars of the past whereas Tesla builds the cars of the future today. As Tesla gobbles up the global market for performance cars their production of battery cells expands and that is the most important thing that is needed in order for Tesla to start moving into long-range BEV that cost less.

What I can tell from Tesla's new prices is that they can add a 188 hp motor and 4WD for only 4000 USD extra. That suggest the two EV motors and transmission cost as little as 10,000 USD for a 4WD system with 376 hp. A comparable combustion engine would need to be 450 hp and with a 4WD setup you can't do that for less than 25,000 USD.

I think we will see Tesla launch the smaller Model III 50(kWh) in 2018 that starts at 37,000 USD for a 5.9 sec to 60mph with an EPA rated range of 200 miles. A 45,000 USD Model III 70 will have 280 miles range and do 5.4 sec to 60mph. A performance edition Model III P70 will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 sec for 55,000 USD. All these models will be 2WD. However, a 4WD Model III is in my opinion a certainty. The Model III 50D will cost 40,000 USD and do 0 to 60 in 5.7 sec, the Model III 70D will cost 48,000 USD and do 0 to 60 in 5.2 sec and finally the Model III P70D can do 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 sec and cost 67,000 USD. Yes, I believe Tesla can sell 500,000 units of these Model IIIs per year starting in 2020 or 2021.

Roger Pham

The $4000 extra is not for the 188-hp motor, because total power is unchanged. It is only for the second differential unit and another pair of CV joints in the front axle, plus R&D cost.

Glad you bring up the Panamera PHEV for discussion. This car has a 3-liter engine, which is 3x bigger and 2x the cylinder count than a 1-liter-3cylinder engine. It has an 8-speed transmission carried-over from the non-hybrid version vs. only a 3-speed transmissions necessary for a PHEV. It has a huge battery pack eating up a lot of room in the trunk, while the Tesla PHEV will have a large and uncompromised trunk space.

However, at $96000, the Panamera is hugely profitable for Porsche due to the lower cost of producing ICE, while the Tesla Model S is not quite as profitable.
So, now that Tesla's design is so famous and highly sought after, cost reduction using a low-cost mass-produced 1-liter engine and a minimum 3-speed transmission to replace over 1000 lbs. of battery, 240-electric hp, and perhaps $40000 cost saving per vehicle, will bring higher profitability and much higher growth potential.

Imagining $45000 for the PHEV version that will save about $20000 in fuel cost, maintenance and repair cost, making it equivalent to a $25000 ICEV!
The planned Model III all electric can do the same for operating cost reduction, but will be smaller, with less range and takes longer for recharge, and lower profitability due to higher costs of batteries and electric power system and must be designed from scratch.

Account Deleted

The 4000 USD for the dual motor drive is for everything that makes the 4WD possible including the new 188hp front motor. The rear motor is the same across all model versions but in version D it just gets half the current which is split evenly between the two motors. The power electronics is the same for S60, S60D, S85 and S85D so total hp stays approximately the same. The power electronics and the motor cooling system is upgraded for P85 and additionally upgraded for P85D this is why their hp increases. My point is that performance cars are less costly to manufacture when they are done as BEVs even when they come with a long-range 85kWh battery pack and the reason is the large savings on the motor and transmission that cost much more in a high performance gasser than in a high performance EV.

I do not believe for a moment your cost estimates for a Tesla PHEV with Model S performance, size and utility. Porsche did it and their 96,100 USD asking price speaks for it selves. If Porsche could make it less costly without compromising the 5.2 sec requirement or anything else that matters like top speed and ability to drive in mountains at speed for hours they would have done it as that would have made their car more profitable or more competitively priced. Porsche should do as Tesla does and that is drop gas engines and multi-speed transmissions entirely and focus on long-range performance BEVs.

I am not entirely against PHEVs. I think the Outlander is a good example of an area where PHEVs currently has a cost advantage to what is currently possible with long-range BEVs. That area is large non-performance vehicles. For instance, Ford should do a PHEV F150 in my opinion and all automakers should have a 0 to 60 mph at 10 sec large SUV PHEV for sale.

Roger Pham

The first table of this article clearly states that 60D and 85D versions have front motor power of 188 and rear motor power of 188 hp, so identical motors front and rear axles. Version P85D has rear motor unchanged, 470 hp, while adding a front motor of 221 hp for a price premium of $14,600. Assuming that the $4,000 is for the front differential and a pair of CV joints, then the front motor costs nearly $10,000? A combustion engine of the same power would cost half to a third of that.

Porsche is all about status symbol and speed and power and not about competitive pricing, the latter role is doled out to VW. So, Porsche can charge high prices regardless of actual costs, hence huge profit margins!

To really appreciate the low cost of ICE, look at the legendary Ford Mustang GT with 435 hp and automatic transmission with MSRP of $33,000 USD for 2015 model year. 0-60 time is under 4 secs!. That's a lot of ponies for the monies, folks!

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