Tesla Unveils The All-Wheel Drive Model ‘D’
At the Los Angeles unveiling, Musk said the improvements offered as an optional package would give the popular plug-in sedan greater speed, efficiency and acceleration, taking the Model S from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds. The “D” version of the Model S will even get 10 extra miles of range out of its battery pack, making it capable of traveling 275 miles on a charge.
Tesla will offer a new, top-line Model S with the added features the P85D for $120,000, with the first deliveries expected in December. The company will also offer all-wheel drive as a $4,000 upgrade package for less-expensive versions of the car.
In addition, all new Model S sedans will now have a series of “auto pilot” features capable of changing lanes, adjusting speed based on posted traffic signs and parking autonomously. Those features rely on a series of sensors ringing the car.
While welcomed by Tesla enthusiasts, the changes were largely expected. Tesla’s rivals in the luxury auto market have been delving into driver-assist technology, and all-wheel drive could help the electric automaker convince skeptical customers in snowy climates.
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“These features will allow Tesla to keep pace with competing luxury makes while still banking on its primary advantage — a pure electric drivetrain,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at the Kelley Blue Book auto information service. “The advanced sensors and additional drivetrain components undoubtedly add cost and complexity to the Models S, but they also widen its appeal to luxury-shoppers seeking cold-weather confidence and the latest driver assistance technology. And kudos to Musk for squeezing some additional range from his car in the process.”
In a move that most of the luxury auto market has already made, the car will offer active safety features like adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed limit signs, stop itself if a crash is imminent, stay in its lane, and even park itself in a street spot or in your garage.
These features are provided thanks to new hardware that will go into future Model S cars (and is already in every car produced in the past two weeks). Tesla is adding a radar that can see through fog and snow; a camera with image recognition capability to spot traffic signs and lights, as well as pedestrians; 360-degree ultrasonic sonar; and a system that combines all the data those produce with navigation, GPS, and real-time traffic systems.
The net result will be a car that can be put on “autopilot,” if not fully autonomous mode. Tesla isn’t ready to make the jump quite yet, Musk said, since the safety system can’t be fully relied on, and regulations to handle self-driving cars have to be figured out. But, Musk said, if you fall asleep while driving, the car should be able to get you home safely. If you try to steer into danger, the wheel will resist. Owners will also be able to summon the car to pick them up autonomously, as long as they’re on private property, where DOT and other regulations don’t apply. “The car can do almost anything,” he said.