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
|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|
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.