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OFFICIAL: Tesla Model S Dual Motor (D) Unveiled — 3.2 Second 0-60 Time, Longer Range. Autonomous Driving Hardware Now Standard

It had all the makings of a Los Angeles party: loud music, an A-list celebrity guest list, and even a broken embargo an hour or so before the big reveal which then mysteriously disappeared from the Internet moments later. Yet this wasn’t a hollywood movie premiere: this was a reveal event for Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] with the kind of hype you’d normally reserve for Apple.

Official: that 'D' means 'Dual Motor,' and it's super-fast. (Photo: TeslaMotorsClub user @aldeman)

Official: that ‘D’ means ‘Dual Motor,’ and it’s super-fast. (Photo: TeslaMotorsClub user @aldeman)

But it turns out all the hype was worth it, as we confirm that Elon Musk’s highly-anticipated ‘D’ announcement is the introduction of a Dual-Motor, All-Wheel-Drive Tesla Model S, capable of a higher efficiency than current rear-wheel drive Tesla Model S cars, a longer range, and a 0-60 time of just 3.2 seconds. Although the announcement was made less than half an hour ago, the news was leaked earlier this evening on line by USA today, before it was hurriedly taken down thirty minutes or so before the big reveal.

“As you probably learned by the Internet because it’s impossible to keep anything private these days,” joked Musk shortly after joining the stage at the Tesla Hawthorn Design Studio. “The D stands for ‘Dual Motor’.”

With a flourish, Musk then showed a picture of the chassis of the Model S-D, with both electric motors marked.

“But why show you a picture when you can see the real thing?” Musk asked. “Release the titans!”

With that, one of the robots used in Tesla’s factory spring to life, emerging from the floor of the stage carrying a Tesla Model S-D chassis in its jaws, to whoops of delight from the assembled audience.

Unlike most all-wheel drive cars on the market, Musk explained, the Tesla Model S-D benefited from an all-electronic drivetrain system that could instantly shift torque from the front to the rear wheels as required, making it far more sure-footed than other all-wheel-drive models. What’s more, Musk explained, the inclusion of the second motor in the Model S means that overall, the car is far more efficient.

This results in an increased all-electric range without any modifications to the battery pack, up from 265 miles per charge on the Tesla P85 to 275 miles on the Tesla P85 D, while simultaneously decreasing the 0-60 mph time to just 3.2 seconds.

“That’s faster than a McLaren F1 [LM],” joked Musk.

While the Dual Motor Model S was the headline announcement of the evening however, perhaps more interesting for future car fans is the confirmation that Tesla has become the first automaker in the world to release its cars with autonomous driving hardware that makes it possible for a Tesla Model S fitted with it to drive itself — even if it’s currently restricted on public highways due to various legislative restrictions.

Confirming what many, including us, have surmised, each and every Tesla Model S coming off the factory at Tesla’s Fremont facility in California now comes with self-driving technology fitted as standard, paving the way for a future where Tesla cars can take over most of the strain of driving.

As Musk explained on stage, Tesla’s autonomous driving system comes in four distinct parts, all of which work together to ensure that all new Tesla Model S cars can not only keep you safe on the road but avoid other road users, detect everything from small animals and children to cars in your blind spot, and even greet you in the morning like Michael J Knight’s KITT in KnightRider.

“The first [part] is a forward-facing radar,” explained Musk. “It’s able to see through fog, sand…anything.” Located on the lower bumper assembly, the radar helps the Model S keep an appropriate distance from the car in front, as well as ensure it doesn’t hit any unseen obstacles in inclement weather. This is backed up by a camera — located behind the rear-view mirror — which has sophisticated image detection. As well as being able to read road signs, Musk said the camera is capable of detecting and recognising pedestrians and other road users.

Tesla's four-stage autonomous drive hardware is now standard on all cars.

Tesla’s four-stage autonomous drive hardware is now standard on all cars (P. Pascaul)

“The third system is a 360 degree ultrasonic sonar,” Musk continued. ‘This establishes a protective cocoon around the car. It can see anything: a small child, a dog. And it can operate at any speed.” Explaining the system further, Musk said the ultrasonic sensor means that the Model S will now be capable of detecting anything in your blind spot, a feature that means the car will warn you if you try to change lanes when it isn’t safe, giving tactile feedback via the steering wheel to ensure you’re not involved in a nasty crash.

“The final element involves integrating that [all] with a GPS system,” Musk added. “The car can do almost anything, but it still is an ‘autopilot’ at this stage rather than a fully autonomous car. The level of redundancy isn’t there yet to be fully autonomous.”

From a practical level however, the list of features now available on the Tesla Model S — or rather due to be rolled out in the coming months — is particularly impressive.

In addition to the usual high-end safety features you’d expect of any luxury car like Lane Keep Assist, Active Cruise Control, and Active Emergency Braking, the Tesla Model S will be capable of switching lanes on the freeway simply by activating the turn signal on the Model S.

“It’s like active safety within the limits,” Musk said. “It’s what’s allowed by regulations.”

While the Model S won’t be driving itself down the road just yet however — mainly due to the regulatory mess surrounding autonomous driving technology worldwide — Musk was able to promise those who happen to live on private land a little more freedom.

The new Tesla Model S dashboard includes autonomous driving information. (Photo: D.Pascual)

The new Tesla Model S dashboard includes autonomous driving information. (Photo: D.Pascual)

For example, the Tesla Model S will now park itself. Simply get out of your car on your driveway, and the Model S will park itself, Musk said.

“You’ll be able to park at home and get out of the car, and have the car park itself in your garage…I’d eventually like the car to plug itself in,” joked Musk.

If you’re on private property thought, Musk promised, the Model S would drive to meet you, just like KITT.

“Going a step further, you’ll be able to summon the car if you’re on private property,” Musk said. “It’ll be able to detect small objects even with the ultrasonics. It could go a step beyond that if you have the calendar turned on,” Musk said. “It’ll meet you there…the air conditioning turned on, the music ready… it’ll meet you there.”

In other words, the Model S is now capable of knowing what time you need to leave the house, and automatically be ready for you, without any further interaction. While we’re not sure who unplugs the car, we’ve got to admit that this is one of the coolest features we’ve ever dreamed a car could have.

Sadly, there’s no news of how much the Dual-motor upgrade will cost, but Musk did say the autonomous driving features of the Model S would be rolled out in a series of Tesla over-the-air updates for cars fitted with the autonomous driving sensors. Sadly, if you’ve already got a Tesla Model S, it doesn’t look like Tesla will be offering a retrofit, since the autonomous drive upgrade also comes with a series of electromechanical upgrades — including a brand-new braking system — designed to ensure that the Model S is capable of near 100 per cent autonomy at some point in the near future.

What do you think of the announcements? Do you want a Tesla Model S -D? Or do you think the autonomous driving technology is just what you need to make your mornings go a little bit better?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below — and let us know if you were there. We’d love to see your live images and thoughts of the Model S-D test drives!


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  • Kalle Centergren

    The mornkng greetings is cool! But imagine the leagal mess they need to work threw, in so many countrys

  • Surya

    Tesla is so on top of things at the moment, really incredible. Now let’s get that more affordable car on the road and make it just as good in it’s own right and then make a compact B class hatchback which I will then go on to buy.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Yeah, as Ad van der Meer says, this is a hallo car to support that very initiative. Oh, and something to remind BMW, VW Group, etc. who’s making the posters for kids bedrooms all around the world now.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    If they were knocking $20k off of the price, that would be news. 10 miles more on a full charge and less time to 60mph is less impressive on a car that already has the best range and serious whiplash times off of the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if the upgrades add $20k to the sticker.nnnInsurance companies are going to take the most convincing when it comes to autonomous vehicles. Apportioning liability is going to be a tough issue. nnnElectric cars make a great daily driver. The problem with Tesla’s current offerings is the price. They make no sense financially and anybody with the income or trust fund to afford one is also able to purchase any one of a number of other super cars.

    • Larry

      The dual motor upgrade is a $4k option. 🙂 Shown on the tesla motor website in the build page

  • Ad van der Meer

    @Kenneth_Brown:disqus nYou obviously don’t understand the path that Tesla has chosen. This $15’000 option, which makes this a $120’000 car, is adding to Tesla’s gross margin on the Model S. The extra cash (flow) this option rakes in goes to the financial foundation of the Model III and the Gigafactory.nIt is not Tesla’s intention to build expensive fast cars, but those expensive fast cars are needed to finance the more affordable ones.

  • Ad van der Meer

    In other news: Kimbal Musk opens a food bank in Munich feeling sorry for BMW execs having their lunch money stolen by his brother. #BMWM5killer

    • Michael Thwaite

      Oh man, the guy that raised his hand and said “Let’s build a front-wheel-drive EV with a 12mile range that _looks_ like it’ll go as fast as a Tesla.”… I suspect he’ll be throwing a sicky this morning.

      • Ad van der Meer

        Remember the guy that changed the Tesla gear box and thought he had made the fastest Model S!!! #Saleen4.16

        • Michael Thwaite

          Oh no! I’d forgotten, that guy’s just been Sherlocked.

  • PWJ Bishop

    I wonder why it has slightly higher range. Maybe the motors, inverters and rectifiers, doing half a job each, stay cooler, but there is now a pair of everything, or Tesla has allowed normal use of a little more battery capacity.nnWith two power trains, each will take half the current of the single version, and total heat loss thus ought to be two quarters – half – of the previous figure. Heat rises according to the square of the current and therefore falls according to the square root if you halve it. nnCorrections welcome!

    • Mark Benjamin David

      With two motors, you can distribute the power, thus adding efficiency to the overall driving. It’s not like you are just adding another motor and it’s adding to the use of power, it doesn’t work that way. Electric cars are not like your electric motor appliances, just turn on the electricity and it goes, it has a controller unit, and when you have two motors to work with, and the variable of driving conditions, you can do things a lot more efficiently as you can now distribute the power that is needed over two motors instead of just one. Elon Musk stated that it has millisecond response. Unlike ICE AWD, where efficiency is depreciated through extra mechanicals added to the one engine to drive the extra set of wheels.nnnBut, those are Tesla’s estimations, not EPA ratings (not that EPA ratings are all that accurate either). If you take a 60kWh base model and make it a D, it goes from “208 EPA range” to “225 range at 65mph”. These numbers will change once the EPA has had a chance to rate them. nnnRange is pretty relative, just like with any car, the 85kWh model s was EPA rated at 265, but, Tesla stated 300 at 55mph, and people get a variable amount of range out of these.

  • CDspeed

    What can I say but, excellent work Tesla! Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz woke up this morning and said a collective “oh s**t!”nnThis also says to me that the Model X is going to be mind blowingly good.

  • Ben Nelson

    Everyone is overlooking the most important question: does the D still have the FRUNK?

    • PWJ Bishop

      It appears that the additional hardware occupies the rectangular space at the rear of the frunk, thus leaving the main area free.

  • Joe

    According to the Tesla Design Studio page on their site, the dual motor option adds $4,000 and is available even on the 60 kWh model. The Autopilot feature is a little confusing on that page, though. It says “Model S comes standard with (Autopilot sensors)” but under the description of the Tech Package, the software for Autopilot is listed. I read that to mean that the hardware is standard but is not fully functional without the Tech Package. And note that the Tech Package price rose to $4250. Last time I looked it was $3750. nnIt’s worth taking a look at the Design Studio page. They redesigned it overnight and combined some options. There is a snow tire option now, and they combined some other items. The matched yacht floor, extended leather trim and premium interior lighting is all part of a single $4500 option, for example.

  • smartacus

    How much will it weigh?

  • vdiv

    So is the stock market misreading the unveiling and what it means for Tesla? Maybe it is time to buy again 🙂

  • Espen Hugaas Andersen

    This is a great way to increase revenue without requiring more batteries. Battery production is the limiting factor for their car production, and will continue to be so until they get the Gigafactory up and running. The only ways to squeeze more profit out of the production is thus to either cut costs or increase the price, and it’s apparent they’ve gone for the last option.nnNo way the extra motor on the P85D costs 14.6k USD. For every P85D sold, probably close to 10k USD goes to the gigafactory. For the regular D, maybe 2k USD is profit. Not extreme, but still significant.

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