Earlier this year, Tesla Model S owner and known hardware engineer Jason Hughes uncovered what appeared to be a reference to a brand-new Tesla Model S with a 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack hidden deep within an over-the-air software update for the high-end electric car.
Last week, further confirmation that such a vehicle was on the way was obtained when a Dutch Government website listed details of all new type-approved cars that are road-legal in Europe included a mysterious Tesla Model S P100D and Tesla Model X P100D in its latest update.
So it’s no surprise then that when Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced mid-morning that the California energy company would be making an announcement at noon today it turned out to be just that: a 100 kWh variant for both the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X. The announcement itself — made at noon to a select group of high-end media outlets and not made available to a wider press corp until a few moments ago — may be one of the worst-kept secrets in Tesla’s history, but it did manage to divulge two new pieces of information not yet known: both car’s estimated EPA-cycle range, and a new, faster 0-60 mph time that Tesla says makes its cars the fastest production vehicles you can buy today.
Range first. While the overly optimistic European NEDC ratings were public knowledge last week (613 kilometers per charge), EPA range estimates were not public until today. Last week when we heard the NEDC ratings, we guessed that the Tesla Model S P100D and Tesla Model X P100D (both of which appeared at the time to share the same 613 kilometer NEDC rating) would have an EPA range that sat somewhere ‘between 320 and 340 miles per charge.’ Today, Tesla confirmed a figure of 315 miles per charge for the Model S P100D, while the larger, less aerodynamic Tesla Model X P100D manages an EPA range of 289 miles per charge (542 km NEDC). While the Model S P100D’s official range is five miles per charge less than our rough guess last week, it’s still enough to make the Tesla Model S P100D the longest-range electric cars that you can buy today. And while the Tesla Roadster with a Tesla 3.0 battery upgrade can travel further per charge, Tesla’s iconic sedan and high-tech crossover are the only electric cars on sale today with such impressive electric ranges.
This particular battery upgrade, following on from Tesla’s P90 upgrade last year, demonstrates the fact that Tesla seems to be evolving its battery capacity and range a little quicker than it had initially predicted.
As we explained earlier in the year, Tesla’s improvements of ‘ten percent capacity per year’ and ‘five percent range per year’ would have meant that we’d be seeing a 100kWh, 300+ mile pack some time in 2017. This particular pack is a good six months ahead of that, and demonstrates that despite the number of different projects it is working on Tesla is keen to push out battery pack evolutions just as soon as they are ready for market. How long it will take Tesla to produce a 110 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack however, is not something we’d be willing to bet on: with Model 3 pre-produciton ramping up, we’d guess Tesla will need to focus somewhere other than Model S and Model X.
With range out of the way comes the other big piece of news hidden in today’s announcement, namely the fact that the Tesla Model S P100D with optional Ludicrous mode is a little faster to 60 mph than the Tesla Model S P90D with the same high-end performance addon. Instead of the official 2.8-second 0-60 mph time of its predecessor, the new Tesla Model S P100DL achieves 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. That, says Tesla — ignoring limited-production cars like the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder — makes it the fastest production car in the world today.
It’s worth noting too that this new 0-60 mph time is remarkably close to the 2.6-second 0-60 time owners of recently-built Tesla Model S P90D models have been reporting on user forums, suggesting that as we predicted last week, Tesla has been shipping 100 kWh Model S cars for some time now in secret, locking out the top 10 kilowatt-hours of capacity with a software switch until today’s announcement. Since Tesla hasn’t talked of a free upgrade for recent Model S owners however, we could be wrong on this one.
That same speed boost is present on the Model X P100D too, but due to its larger, heavier form Tesla’s high end crossover now takes 2.9 seconds to reach 60 mph from standstill, a figure unheard of for an SUV.
Now we’ve shared the specs, there’s only one thing left to share: the price — and it’s not cheap.
Already own a Tesla Model S P90D or Tesla Model X P90D, and Tesla will charge you $20,000 for the 100 kWh upgrade, which includes the value inherent in your car’s 90 kWh battery pack. Have a car on order but which has not yet arrived, and Tesla will halve that charge to $10,000.
Which raises the question: is it good value for money? At the moment, we’re not sure it is for the majority of owners, since Tesla Supercharger stations are now so numerous along most major routes that requiring anything over 300 miles of range is really not an issue. But for those who really don’t want to stop and charge — or who want those extra few tenths of a second shaved off, we’re guessing they’ll be reaching for their chequebook already…
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