Five Things To Know About The New Tesla Model S 60D, 85D and P85D Electric Sedans

The amusing tweet has been laughed at, the spy-shots captured, and the launch event held. And now we’re living in a world where you can order a dual-motor Tesla Model S.

But in the excitement following Tesla Motor’s [NASDAQ:TSLA] official announcement late on Thursday evening, it’s easy to miss some key important facts about one of the biggest changes to Tesla’s iconic luxury electric sedan since it launched back in 2012. Important questions regarding vehicle ordering, availability, price and performance.

Now we know what that enigmatic 'D' stands for: Dual Motor

Now we know what that enigmatic ‘D’ stands for: Dual Motor

The morning following Tesla’s big D announcement, we happened to take part in a round table discussion with Georg Ell, Tesla’s County director for the UK and Ireland, and he was able to give us some key facts that you may have missed in the excitement on Thursday night. So without further ado, here are the five key things you need to know about Tesla’s new Dual Motor option for the Tesla Model S.

1) Two motors isn’t double the power

At first glance, it may be easy to assume that Tesla has taken the same 283 kilowatt (380 horsepower) electric motor found in the original rear-wheel drive Tesla model S (350 kilowatt, 470 horsepower for the original P85 model) and doubled it up for the dual-motor Model S to increase performance and top speed.

While that’s a fairly logical step to make, it turns out Tesla hasn’t’ actually done that. Instead, the California automaker has designed a smaller 140 kilowatt (188 horsepower) electric motor for use in the Tesla Model S 60D and Tesla model S 85D, splitting a total of 280 kilowatts (376 horsepower) equally between both axles.

On paper then, the Tesla Model S 60D and 85D actually have less total power (about 4 horsepower less) than their single motor counterparts, but more combined torque, meaning they are both slightly quicker to 60 mph than their single-motor siblings. What’s more, with the power split between the two axles, the dual motor Model S is able to get more of its power on the road more quickly than the single motor model.

While we’ve said that the Model S 60D and Model S 85D don’t have twice the power than their single-motor counterparts however, it’s worth noting that there’s one exception: the P85D. Fitted with the same 350 kilowatt motor found in the Tesla Model S P85 in the rear, the P85 D also has a smaller 165 kilowatt motor up front, giving an astonishing total power of 515 kilowatts (691 horsepower) combined.

While you might think the Model S has twice the motor power of the single motor Model S, that's not the case.

While you might think the Model S has twice the motor power of the single motor Model S, that’s not the case.

2) They’ll go further per charge (technically), and have a higher top speed

Because of the way the power is split between two motors instead of driven through one, the dual-motor Model S variants are more efficient and cooler-running than their single motor counterparts. That’s because the two smaller motors use marginally less electricity than the single motor in the original Model S, they can travel a little further on the same amount of electricity.

It’s worth noting however, that while Tesla currently claims the Model S 60D will travel 225 miles per charge versus the EPA-approved 208 miles of range for the Model S 60 (295 miles for the Model S 85D vs 265 miles for the Model S 85) the figures quoted are taken from a simulation at a constance 65 mph, and have not been approved by the EPA yet. While the EPA approval will surely happen in the near future, we’d guess most owners won’t notice much of a difference in everyday driving — unless they happen to be hypermiling.

When it comes to top speed however, there is a noticeable difference: the 60D has a top speed of 125 mph from the 120 mph of the 60, while the 85D and P85 D top out at 155 mph from 125mph and 130 mph respectively.

3) There’s still a frunk and it’s not much smaller

One of the questions we heard asked a lot following the Tesla announcement on Thursday evening revolved around the Model S front trunk — or ‘frunk’. Talking to Georg Ell on Friday morning, we were told the Model S dual motor models do have to give up a little bit of space under the hood for that extra motor, but that the difference it makes to the frunk space is truly ‘minimal’.

At the time of writing, we don’t have any specific figures to compare the Model S single motor and dual motor frunk sizes, but we’d guess it’s something you probably won’t notice, especially since the Model S has the largest luggage carrying capabilities of any luxury sedan or plug-in car on the market today.

4) The Tesla Model S P85D accelerates at (almost) 1g

One of the biggest challenges facing those who attended the Tesla Motors dual motor unveiling on Thursday evening was putting into words just how blisteringly fast the high-end Tesla Model S P85D actually is.

Accelerating from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds not only beats the 0-60mph time of the McLaren F1 — something Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tesla set out to achieve when designing the car — but it makes the Model S the fastest production sedan on the market.

But if the hundreds of YouTube videos which were uploaded over the weekend showing screaming Tesla fans experience the 0-60 time of the Model S P85D for themselves didn’t do it for you, then we’d like to offer you another yard stick to measure this car’s performance by.

The powerful P85D variant of the Model S has more than 515 kW of power, and accelerates at (almost) 1g.

The powerful P85D variant of the Model S has more than 515 kW of power, and accelerates at (almost) 1g.

Here on earth, ignoring any subtle variances in gravitational field, the force of gravity accelerates objects towards the earth’s surface a 9.8 meters per second squared, a figure we call 1g. This means an object falling from the sky –if we ignore the effects of aerodynamic drag — accelerates from 0-60 mph in around 2.75 seconds.

But because the earth’s atmosphere is not a vacuum and objects falling from the sky are slowed down by their own aerodynamic drag, we think it’s fair to say that the Tesla Model S P85D probably accelerates from 0-60 mph as fast on the ground as it would free-falling from the sky. That’s something very few production cars can claim.

5) If your car hasn’t been made, you can upgrade (for a fee)

There’s nothing worse than being on the waiting list for a new car to discover that there’s a better, newer model being developed and you’re about to miss out, but luckily, Tesla has said it’s willing to let Tesla customers who have ordered a Model S recently but whose cars haven’t yet been built the chance to upgrade to a dual motor version of their car.

Sadly, however, there’s a fee involved — and production of the dual motor cars won’t start until February, meaning you’ll have to wait a little longer for your car.

You can order a Dual Motor Tesla today, with deliveries from February 2015.(Photo: TeslaMotorsClub user @aldeman)

You can order a Dual Motor Tesla today, with deliveries from February 2015.(Photo: TeslaMotorsClub user @aldeman)

Of course, the biggest stipulation here is that your car hasn’t actually already been made at the Tesla Fremont factory, but if that’s you, Tesla will charge you $4,000 to upgrade from a Tesla Model S 60 or Model S 85 to a dual-motor variant with the same-sized battery pack. Meanwhile, if you’ve got a P85 on order, you’ll be able to upgrade to a P85D for $14,000.

You’ll notice that the high-end P85+, Tesla’s previous high-end model, is being deprecated to make way for the P85D. In keeping with previous upgrade policy, Tesla will honour all P85+ orders made to date, but will again offer owners the chance to upgrade their cars should they wish to pay the extra fee to do so.

Are you about to buy a Tesla Model S? Are you tempted to get the dual motor variant? And is it worth the extra money? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Esl1999 .

    Did they change gear ratio? How are they able to go from 130 MPH to 155 MPH with less power? Why does the P85D have the same top speed as 85D? Is the P85D top speed governed like other high performance German cars? Inquiring minds want to know. I am surprised at the fact that they did not show the cars advantages in the snow versus other conventional all-wheel drive. I guess they’ll leave that for the auto journalist.

    • WeaponZero

      The top speed was limited digitally by the motors to prevent overheating. With 2 motors they can raise the top speed and acceleration.

    • Andyj

      Smaller diameter rotors can rev higher to meet the same rotational velocity of the drum.nLet’s be honest. In the real world, tops speeds do not always equate to real road speeds.nMy take on two sets of invertors have make it more efficient because they are loaded less.

  • vdiv

    Noone is mentioning that the “political punching bag” aka the Chevy Volt has had a two-motor system from the beginning (2010). Although both are driving only the front wheels, with the continuously variable gear ratio provided by the planetary gear setup the system provides for up to 15% improved efficiency at high speed as well as a higher top speed than most single motor EVs on the market (el. limited to 100mph/161 km/h).nn

    • BuddhaBandit

      The volt is a hard, plastic, uncomfortable piece of JUNK!

      • vdiv

        Strong feelings for a car. Touched a sensitive nerve perhaps? 🙂

        • BuddhaBandit

          Well, if the car is so uncomfortable that you can’t sit in it, then what’s the use of the advanced technology?

          • vdiv

            70,000+ people (incl. me) managed to sit in it just fine for years now and put quite a few miles on without the use of gasoline. I suppose that’s the use.

  • Andyj

    Good write-up Nikki! 🙂