Moments ago, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced that the Californian automaker was pushing the boundaries of electric car performance further than ever before, with the news of three new additions to the iconic Model S lineup.
First comes a brand-new 90 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, costing an additional $3,000 more than the current 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack to increase range in Tesla’s high-end dual-motor Model S to within striking distance of 300 miles of total range at 65 miles per hour. Customers wanting to upgrade their existing Model S P85 models to the 90 kWh pack will have to pay $5,000 for the privilege, with the $3,000 upgrade fee only applicable to new orders.
While that figure has not yet been ratified by the U.S. EPA, Elon Musk said that the battery pack capacity increase was the first of a long line of incremental battery pack upgrades Tesla anticipates will be offered every few years to Tesla customers, representing an average five percent increase in battery pack capacity every one or two years.
Next comes a new high-end performance mode for Tesla’s flagship P85D and P90D models, replacing the existing ‘Insane’ mode found in current cars with a so-called ‘Ludicrous’ mode. Made possible by a brand-new type of high-tech safety fuse and eight-lane, non-steel contactor that increases the amount of current that can safely be withdrawn from the battery pack from 1,300 amps to 1,500 amps, cars fitted with the new electronics components will be able to sprint from 0-60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds at an astounding 1.1g of acceleration.
“It’s faster than falling,” joked Musk as he announced the upgrade, which also boasts a new quarter mile time of 10.8 seconds, and a twenty-percent reduction in the 0-155 mph acceleration time. No suspension tweaks or body modifications are needed, said Musk, with the only change being the aforementioned battery fuse and contactor change. With the right tires, Musk joked, Tesla’s flagship Model S will now corner at 1g — that’s if you’re brave enough to try, we’d like to add.
That high-end performance won’t come cheap: customers who want to upgrade from ‘insane’ to ‘Ludicrous mode will have to pay an additional $10,000 on top of their high-end Model S. Indeed, as the small print on Tesla’s website details, the Ludicrous upgrade requires customers have the 90kWh battery pack. That means anyone wanting a high-end Tesla Model S 90D with Ludicrous Speed Upgrade at the point of order will have to shell out $118,000 before incentives. Add in the other options available, and a fully-specced Model S P90D will set you back an eye-watering $133,500.
“Model S is traction limited up to about 30mph, beyond that, the battery pack is the limiting factor. These changes open that up to allow us to continue up through the range,” said Musk of the high-performance.
But don’t think that today was all about high-end upgrades to the what was already the world’s fastest production sedan: in addition to announcing the newer, higher-capacity battery pack and Ludicrous mode, Musk said Tesla will now offer a new, more affordable entry-level model in the Tesla Model S 70.
Starting at $70,000 — $5,000 cheaper than the Model S 70D, the new budget Model S will come with a single rather than dual motor drive, and grant customers the same great features as found in higher-priced Model S cars at the expense of a slightly longer 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds versus 5.2 seconds for the 70D model.
Due to the single motor drive, it is also expected to have a slightly shorter range than its dual-motor sibling, managing an estimated 230 miles per charge rather than the 240 miles of the 70D. Top speed remains electronically limited to 140 mph.
For roadster owners feeling left out, there’s also some positive news on the way. Musk said that Tesla is in its final stages of testing its long-awaited Roadster upgrade package for existing Roadster owners to benefit from the latest lithium-ion battery chemistry. Early upgrade packs should be available within a month or so.
As for the Model X and Model III? Musk said the Model X is on track for a launch this fall, with Tesla’s third-generation mass-market, affordable sedan due in around three years’ time.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s system 7.0 upgrade — which will be available as an over-the-air update for all existing cars — is now in its final stages of testing, with Musk reporting that he’s testing prototype versions of the new operating software on his own personal car every few days.
Tesla’s next major operating system upgrade, System 7.0, will introduce autopilot capabilities in all cars built after October last year, but Musk admitted that Tesla’s auto pilot software was still finding certain situations particularly hard to cope with.
He singled out I405 in Los Angeles, which he complained had faded lane markings and skid marks which were still sometimes confusing prototype vehicles. Despite that, he seemed confident we’ll see autopilot mode in the near future.
Finally, Musk hinted that Roadster fans could soon look forward to a completely new sports car design, with the hint that there would be a car coming shortly with ‘Maximum Plaid Mode.’ When pushed by a reporter, he admitted that meant a completely new Roadster design — not just an upgrade for existing owners.
We’re sure we’ll hear more about these exciting new model improvements in the coming days — but we’re eager to hear what you think so far. Would you spend $10,000 more to get a 2.8-second 0-60 time on a high-end Tesla Model S 90D? Are you happy that Tesla has reintroduced an entry-level, single-motor model that’s even more affordable?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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