Way back in March, well-known Tesla Model S owner, tinkerer and software engineer Jason Hughes announced that he had found hidden code within the latest over-the-air (OTA) software update for his Tesla Model S that indicated that the California energy company was readying a new 100 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack for the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars.
Further digging by the engineer revealed a hidden Tesla P100D icon hidden in the software update, further confirming that a new, longer-range Model S and Model X were on the way. But despite his evidence — and a cryptic tweet-exchange with Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA] CEO Elon Musk, Hughes wasn’t able to infer a launch date for the new, higher-capacity battery pack.
Fast forward to this weekend however, and a new piece of evidence from a Dutch Government website database indicates that the Tesla Model S P100D and Tesla Model X P100D are not only on their way to market but now road-legal for use in Europe. This indicates an imminent launch of both models, possibly in the next few weeks. Moreover, the database appears to quote the range of the two new models as being 613 kilometers (381 miles) on the European test cycle, equivalent to what we’d guess will translate to a real-world range somewhere between 320 and 340 miles per charge.
This discovery, made over the weekend by Kenteken.tv was only possible thanks to the open way in which the Dutch Government makes it easy for members of the public to obtain information about the European Type Approval for each and every car on sale in Europe today. For those unfamiliar with the term, Type Approval is essentially a roadworthiness test that all new cars must undergo before they can be sold within the EU. In addition to ensuring vehicles meet specific regulations pertaining to vehicle lighting, braking, and other important features, the test also ensure that the vehicle meets all the required safety standards in the market it is meant to be sold in. Rather than apply a blanket type approval to each make and model of car, Type Approval tests must be passed for each mechanically distinct variation of every new car. Thusly, although Tesla already has Type Approval for the Tesla Model S cars already on sale in Europe for example, it must gain Type Approval for any new variant with a different drivetrain or battery pack.
Which is how Kenteken found out about the new Model S P100D and Tesla Model X P100D.
Browsing the Type Approval database — essentially a list of cars with Certificate of Conformity (CC) — it noticed codes relating to a Tesla Model S P100D and Tesla Model X P100D, along with their Type Approval details and the expected range of the vehicle according to the NEDC test cycle.
There’s no news yet as to how long we’re going to have to wait until these new models are officially launched by Tesla, but given the energy company is already reportedly producing new Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X cars with second-generation Autopilot hardware fitted — another recent unexpected update — it’s concievable that the 100kWh Model S and Model X variants are already being produced.
Why haven’t we heard anything yet? If we had to guess, we’d predict that Tesla has been sneakily building 100 kWh Tesla Model S and Model X cars for the U.S. market, using the same software lockout to restrict this new battery pack to 90 kWh as it does to restrict useable battery capacity on the Tesla Model S 60 (which actually has a 75 kWh battery pack).
Given that there’s no hiding the battery upgrade however, we’re expecting Tesla to make an official announcement in the coming weeks, making the wealthiest of Tesla fans scramble yet again for their checkbooks to ensure they have the latest, greatest, and fastest electric car out there.
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