Chevrolet sells more than 1 million Sparks worldwide
EPA annual trends report finds new vehicle fuel economy at record 24.1 mpg; new powertrain technologies rapidly gaining share

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.


Account Deleted

I was wrong. The rear motor in Model S D is replaced with a smaller motor probably identical to the front motor. I have confirmed it by taking a very close look of the power train picture in the Model S sales configurator at their website. It also says so at wiki but without mentioning a source. It does not change my view that 4000 USD is a very modest amount for all the benefits that 4WD give relative to the 2WD. I will be surprised if the 4WD versions do not make up for more than 50% of sales going forward. Tesla is targeting the luxury market and that market want 4WD. I will not even be surprised to see Tesla phasing the 2WD versions out if they sell in limited numbers like Tesla did with the 40kWh edition Model S40.

If you want a PHEV nearly all other carmakers are making them or about to make them available. So go there and get it. Tesla is currently about making the best cars in the world (not the least costly) and the best cars are necessarily long-range BEVs. Better for the environment, less noise and vibration, better handling, higher safety etc. Tesla is still small and they need to focus their limited resources in growing ASAP so that they can also make less costly cars like the Model III. They can do that with long-range performance BEVs because nobody else can catch them at the speed they move ahead in this area. If they spread their very limited resourced to multispeed transmissions and gassers there is a wall of patents that need to be overcome but more importantly it will slow their pace in moving forward with making better long-range performance BEVs so that they end up being good at nothing and therefore unable to grow. That strategy will bankrupt them. By the time Tesla is big enough to be excellent in BEVs as well as gassers the latter will be a dying species and at that point it is irrelevant for Tesla to peruse it.


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.

P85D is a pure profit grab, which is fine, because people will pay that much for that level of performance. It's what the market will bear.

In about 3 years, I reckon the successor to the current 'Insane' tier Model S will be a 110-120kWh monster with front and rear 500kW motors (or 4x250kW) with each 'axle' geared differently, with a peak discharge from the battery of 7C. 120 * 7 = 840kW, which equates to about 1100hp. Weight will likely be in the 2200-2300kg range, given the increased mass of motor, wheel, tire, and with the battery growing just a bit given density improvements.

Bob Wallace

Henrik, you posted that the Tesla D has a 5.2 0-60 time. It's 3.2 seconds, putting it in exotic car territory.

Here's a list of the fastest production cars.

The Porsche 918 Spyder is a 0.8 seconds faster. But it sells for $845,000.

Or you could purchase a slightly slower Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport for 1.65 million euros.

The bargain car might be the Corvette Z06 at about $90,000. 0.25 seconds faster to 60 MPH. But seating for seven is a bit cramped....


Rimac Concept One
With a total output of 1,088 hp, an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, and a price of US$980,000

Roger Pham

>>>>>"If you want a PHEV nearly all other carmakers are making them or about to make them available. So go there and get it."
--Aye, there's the rub! For there is no current nor soon-to-come PHEV that can come close to a Tesla PHEV in term of internal space, ergonomic, and performance! None whatsoever! Just as there are no BEV that can offer near to a Tesla in term of...everything!

>>>>"...and the best cars are necessarily long-range BEVs."
I'd say, it's up to each consumer to decide for him/herself! One can't speak for everyone.

>>>>"Tesla is still small and they need to focus their limited resources in growing ASAP so that they can also make less costly cars like the Model III."
--Costs billions USD to develop a new car design from scratch. Smaller Model III with 200-mi range has less popular appeal, and will not bring much profit.
Developing a PHEV power train for existing and commercially-established Models S and X will cost a fraction of the cost of developing a new model, while those big, full-size vehicles will bring back a lot of profits.

>>>>"They can do that with long-range performance BEVs because nobody else can catch them at the speed they move ahead in this area."
--Nobody else can beat them at selling any kind of cars in the excellent and exquisite bodies of Model S and X, either! Tesla already has a head start in the market-established Models S and X.

Roger Pham

>>>>+"If they spread their very limited resourced to multispeed transmissions and gassers there is a wall of patents that need to be overcome..."
--No need to mess with engine and transmission. Just order them from the likes of Yamaha, Kawasaki, Bombardier's Rotax, Mercury Outboard...etc. Yamaha developed and built the finest engines and transmissions for Toyota, Ford, etc...on orders before. I'm sure that Yamaha won't hesitate to do the same for Tesla. Just like Tesla ordered batteries from Panasonic instead of messing with battery chemistries.

>>>>"By the time Tesla is big enough to be excellent in BEVs as well as gassers the latter will be a dying species and at that point it is irrelevant for Tesla to peruse it."
--PHEV's will remain important long into the future, no matter how cheap and how light and how small batteries will be! This is because:

1) because as batteries will get better, so will PHEV get better. The engine will hardly ever be used, however, the waste heat of the engine is important in winters, just when the BEV's range is at its weakest due to the cold temp.

2) Battery will age whether used or not. Engines and fuel tank will not age, and can last for 100 years! Why carry more battery than you would need for a daily commute?

3) One Giga Factory at 50 GWh/yr can supply 500k Model S-100kWh, or 1 Million Model III 50 kWh, but can supply 5 Million Model S PHEV-10kWh. Which route will lead to greater growth for Tesla?

4) If many Giga FActories will be built, this will heat up the demands for critical battery-building raw materials and will lead to escalation in battery's cost and will dampen growth of PEV's. PHEV's will help that greatly!

5)I've had one gasser sat unused for 5 years, while another sat unused for 3 yeaes, and the engines started right away, as soon as the dead lead-acid batteries was replaced. The old gasoline in the tanks worked just as good as new gasoline! Try to do that to any BEV and you will end up with tens of thousands of USD of battery replacement cost!
So, a PHEV can be programmed to start up the engine peiodically to charge the battery pack to prevent it from going dead and costing a lot of money!

6) Having dual power plants in the same car is great for security when driving at night, busy traffics, or cross country. Suppose you have a power short-circuit in the battery circuit, or failure of the inverter due to faulty soldering...In a BEV, you'll be stranded. In a PHEV, you can press on to destination.

7) BAttery technology is advancing rapidly. Why invest a lot in a big battery pack when it will be outmoded in a few years down the road? Better just to have a small pack in a PHEV that you will be able to replace and upgrade for better battery in the near future!

Bob Wallace

" Smaller Model III with 200-mi range has less popular appeal, and will not bring much profit."

A 200 mile range EV for under $30,000 will not be popular?

A Tesla for less than the cost of the average new car ($32,046) in the US?

The profit margin will be less for the "3" but it will sell as fast as Tesla can crank them out.

Roger Pham

It may be popular but won't bring back much profit at that price point.

A Model S PHEV with 30-mile electric range out of a 10-kWh pack can be charged at nite with wind power and charged at work using solar power to cover 60 miles of commuting range. It may cost even less than Model III to make, yet when priced at $45k, will bring back much greater profit.
People will gladly pay $45k for it because it is big, roomy, and can seat 7, or even 8 if a front bench seat is provided.
The market acceptance is already guaranteed.

Would this PHEV take away sales from the BEV version? I think not. The BEV version is still vastly more refined without engine sound nor vibration, and has lower center of gravity so better handling, and is a lot heavier so will give a more stable and smoother ride. Rich folks don't drive cross country much, except for rich retired folks who will do just fine with Supercharging en route.

Bob Wallace

Here's your problem, Roger. Studies find that once batteries fall enough in price hybrids and FCEVs are no longer price competitive.

Citigroup (IIRC) set that price point at $230/kWh. Apparently Tesla is now paying Panasonic $180/kWh for their batteries.

As for making a profit. Tesla, like any other company that stays in business sells product for more than it costs to produce. For a luxury item the margin might be higher because the market will tolerate it.

The markup on a $100,000 car might be $25,000.

The markup on a $30,000 car might be $4,500.

But if the company sells six $30k cars they make more than selling one $100k car. And there are far, far more people who are willing to pay $30k for a car than there are willing to pay $100k for a car.

The ratio might be 1,000:1.

Roger Pham

Are you sure, Bob?

Cost of electric motor is around $50/hp. This is reflected in the $10,000 price premium for the 221 hp front motor of the Model S P85D.
The following link shows the same, a 200-hp pump motor costing $10,000.

BEV's do not have transmission, but they do have speed controller, that may cost from $50-100/hp. The following link shows a Leeson speed controller for AC motor costing $2,666 to $2,900 for a 20-hp rating. This would amount to $133 to $145 per hp.

Thus, $100/hp(controller) + $50/hp(motor) = $150/hp for BEV.

By contrast, the Ford Mustang GT has 435-hp engine and auto transmission, for a MSRP of $33,000.
$11,000 is a reasonable assumption for the engine while $4,000 for the transmission.
$15,000 / 435hp = $34/hp.
If assuming $20,000 for both engine and transmission,
$20,000 /435hp = $45

Conclusion: electric power train can cost 3-5x that of engine + transmission per hp!

How much does the fuel tank cost per kWh? An 18-gallon tank may cost $80 USD but contains 600 kWh of energy. If ICEV is 1/4 as efficient as BEV, it would carry an equivalent of 150 kWh. So, $80/150kWh= $0.52/kWh.

So, even if battery is to cost $100/kWh, battery will still costs 200x that of an ICEV's energy storage means. It will take a very long time for a BEV to be cost competitive, purchase-price-wise, with an ICEV, if ever!

Roger Pham

I hope that the above analysis has shown that to reduce the production cost of PEV's in order to speed up growth, battery and electric power train must be reduced to minimum, while the rest of the power must come from the combination of: IC Engine + minimum 3-speed transmission + fuel tank.

A PHEV-30 (10-kWh pack) charged twice daily can cover 60 miles on electricity, and can reduce gasoline consumption by 90%, eliminating tail-pipe pollution in the city, while being much more affordable, or much higher profit margin for the MFG's!


OT, but Bobby... much of what you think you know is actually lies.


EGO sphere is SO unbiased.


With icreased mass production, it may become cheaper to use 2 or 4 smaller e-motors and smaller lower cost mass produced controllers.

Smaller e-motors (mounted closer to wheels) and smaller controllers (built-in the e-motors) would weight less, cost less and use smaller batteries for a given travel distance.


Michigan just passed a bill in state legislature that essentially bans Tesla from selling cars within the state. HB 5606 prohibits vehicle manufacturers from selling cars directly to consumers. The language creating the ban was added to the bill at the last minute by a legislator – who has received campaign contributions from the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association – without any chance for public comment. It isn’t the first time, and it likely won’t be the last that a state has put Tesla in the crosshairs.

The bill still needs to be signed into law by Michigan’s Governor Snyder, and if it is, it will add Michigan to the growing list of states who are banning direct sales. Right now Arizona, Texas and Virginia ban direct sales while Colorado limits the manufacturer to one location and New Jersey is currently deciding Tesla’s fate in the state.

The bill was originally intended to protect consumers from price gouging by car manufacturers until State Senator Joe Hune added the Tesla-restricting language at the last minute. Tesla is already fighting the legislation and the car manufacturer is urging Tesla supporters to contact Governor Snyder’s office to make their opinions heard.


So essentially the car is getting better while the politics are getting worse.

The comments to this entry are closed.