This is not totally surprising, as the Model X is expected to sport the drivetrain as well, but it is a welcome addition to the current line up.
What IS surprising is the performance gains–1 second quicker to sixty MPH and a 10 mile increase in range. Considering the added weight and power draw, these are pretty astonishing gains.
What’s even more astonishing is the semi-autonomous driving package also announced tonight. Musk claims Tesla vehicles will be “90% autonomous by the end of 2015”. In case you’re not paying attention, that’s next year. This development puts Tesla on track to be an industry leader in an area in which some might say Tesla has thus far fallen short.
Regarding what’s available NOW–or very soon, rather–it’s your regular suite of current driving safety technology PLUS some extras features. The ‘regular’ feature set includes lane departure warning, collision avoidance, in essence, it is what most expect from a modern luxury car when they hear “Smart Cruise Control”. It’s the extras that are quite interesting and are basically future tech: automatic speed limit detection and cruise speed adjustment (via speed limit sign-reading optics and presumably cross-referenced with GPS and traffic and map data) and automated lane changes (you hit the blinker, car does the rest). This amounts very nearly to “on-ramp to off-ramp self drive”. Impressive. I wonder what NHTSA and USDOT say about these improvements… Check out Autopilot‘s wizardry in this video from SlashGear:
More amusing, listen to this reaction to the acceleration–most people are not expecting a 4-door luxury sedan to be as fast as a Lamborghini Huracan, but, yes, a 3.2-second sprint to 60mph situates this Tesla squarely into supercar territory.
And here is the official video from Tesla Motors for pretty much all the details. It’s about 13-and-a-half minutes, and feature a highly articulated robot arm swinging a double-driven Model S frame around for demonstration and exposition purposes. What is Elon Musk if not a true showman? Bravo.
Something else of note, the Dual Motor Performance-optioned Model S will receive Tesla’s next generation seat, which has been re-engineered for comfort and lateral support… and will likely look cooler as well.
For now, it’s safe to say you can order a Model S P85D for delivery this December, and add AWD to the mid- and entry-level Model Esses for delivery in February. Just in time for my birthday. I’ll have a P85D in Grey Metallic, please.