Tesla Improves Model S – New All-Wheel Drive and Autopilot Debut

By Steve & Tamami Laser

While we’re still waiting for Tesla to reveal solid details about its Model X crossover set to go on sale next year, there’s some good news for fans of Tesla’s Model S. After weeks of speculation, the electric car company finally unveiled a new variant as well as improvements to its Model S.

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During a Hollywood-style media event yesterday in Hawthorne, Calif., Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, introduced the new “D”, which stands for Dual Motor, version of the Model S. While the initial benefits of all-wheel drive include improved traction in bad weather, the D also targets enthusiasts with its increased output.

With an amazing 691 horsepower on tap plus the ability of electric motors to generate massive torque when starting out, Musk says the new P85D is capable of a 0 to 60 mph sprint in just 3.2 seconds. That puts it in the same league as some extremely expensive exotic cars. The price of admission for this thrill ride is said to be about $14,000 more than the conventional (for Tesla) P85.

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The second announcement is the introduction of Autopilot, which Musk says is already included in vehicles produced during the past two weeks. This is a suite of advanced safety technologies with the ability for the car to “drive itself” (although it remains to be seen if this will be legal on public roads) plus driver assistance features like forward-collision warning and blind-spot alert.

Here’s more information courtesy the Tesla Motors Blog:

Dual Motor Model S and Autopilot

By The Tesla Motors Team

Yesterday, we unveiled the world’s first dual electric motor production car and announced that new safety and autopilot hardware is standard on every new Model S.

Conventional all wheel drive vehicles distribute power to the wheels from a single engine driving a complex mechanical transmission system. By contrast, Dual Motor Model S, which comes with either the 60 kWh or 85 kWh battery, has a motor on each axle, digitally and independently controlling torque to the front and rear wheels. The result is unparalleled control of traction, with instantaneous response to the motors giving drivers precisely controlled performance in all conditions. With its digital torque controls and low center of gravity, Dual Motor Model S has the most capable road holding and handling of any vehicle ever produced.

Where gasoline-powered all wheel drive cars sacrifice efficiency in return for all weather traction, Tesla’s Dual Motor propulsion system actually increases efficiency while delivering exceptional traction and control in slippery conditions. By precisely splitting the delivery of current from the battery to each motor, the Model S 85D and 60D actually gain an additional 10 miles of highway driving range compared to their rear motor Model S counterparts.

Consistent with our mission, we also wanted to demonstrate that an electric car can soundly beat gasoline cars on efficiency and pure performance. The Model S P85 already outperforms gasoline-powered cars in the same class with its ability to deliver 100 percent of peak torque from a standing start. We combined our new front drive unit and our P85 rear motor with the objective of outperforming one of the greatest supercars of all time, the McLaren F1. With P85D’s 0 to 60 mph performance of 3.2 seconds, we have succeeded.

The P85D combines the performance of the P85 rear motor with an additional 50 percent of torque available from our new front drive unit. The result is the fastest accelerating four-door production car of all time – while remaining one of the most efficient cars on the road. That’s a combination that can only be achieved by an electric car. Not only is the P85D a match for the McLaren F1, but it also doesn’t need a professional driver to achieve optimum performance. Just plant your foot and go.

Customers can order a Dual Motor Model S today. Deliveries of P85D begin in December for North America, to be followed 85D and 60D in February. Deliveries to Europe and Asia will follow in the months afterwards.

New Safety Features and Autopilot

The launch of Dual Motor Model S coincides with the introduction of a standard hardware package that will enable autopilot functionality. Every single Model S now rolling out of the factory includes a forward radar, 12 long range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds, a forward looking camera, and a high precision, digitally controlled electric assist braking system.

Building on this hardware with future software releases, we will deliver a range of active safety features, using digital control of motors, brakes, and steering to avoid collisions from the front, sides, or from leaving the road.

Model S will be able to steer to stay within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by reading road signs and using active, traffic aware cruise control.

Our goal with the introduction of this new hardware and software is not to enable driverless cars, which are still years away from becoming a reality. Our system is called Autopilot because it’s similar to systems that pilots use to increase comfort and safety when conditions are clear. Tesla’s Autopilot is a way to relieve drivers of the most boring and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel – but the driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.

The Autopilot hardware opens up some exciting long term possibilities. Imagine having your car check your calendar in the morning (a feature introduced in Software v6.0), calculate travel time to your first appointment based on real time traffic data, automatically open the garage door with Homelink, carefully back out of a tight garage, and pull up to your door ready for your commute. Of course, it could also warm or cool your car to your preferences and select your favorite morning news stream.

The introduction of this hardware is just the first step for Autopilot in Model S. We will continue to develop new capabilities and deliver them through over-the-air software updates, keeping our customers at the forefront of driving technology.

Other Product Updates

Our commitment to continuous improvement extends to other features of Model S, and we have recently made several updates to the car, including:

  • Seat comfort improvements and taller headrests for whiplash protection
  • Improvements for a quieter cabin
  • Wider rear door opening
  • Electrically opening, self-closing charge port door on Dual Motor Model S
  • Increased visor size and larger vanity mirror
  • Parcel shelf and front trunk cargo net now standard
  • Air ionizer and carbon filter for cabin air purity
  • Updates to Alcantara interior trim, such as wrapped roof bow and top pad

For more information, visit the company’s website Teslamotors.com

Photos and Tesla blog post courtesy Tesla Motors

Story intro ©2014 CarNichiWa.com

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