Tesla's Model S all-electric sports sedan is a constantly evolving vehicle, with new features and upgrades constantly added throughout the three years of its existence. But today, there's a big update that entirely changes the car that you can buy. Three new options come in the form of longer range, a lower starting price, and an even faster rate of acceleration.
All the upgrades are detailed in a Tesla Motors blog post by Elon Musk, the company's CEO. Update: all Aussie pricing is available here on Tesla's Australian website, apart from the battery and ludicrous speed retrofits -- stay tuned for those.
Update: here's the good stuff -- the Model S 90kWh battery upgrade is $4100, and the retrofit for the Ludicrous Speed option is $13500. Sweet.
0-60mph At 2.8 Seconds With 'Ludicrous Mode'
Update: Ludicrous Mode's 0-60mph is 2.8 seconds, 0-100km/h is 3.0 seconds.
This is the huge update in today's news. If you're lucky enough to be a P85D owner in the States, or to be one of the Aussies who has pre-ordered one of the first shipment of P85Ds on their way across to the country, then you can make your already insanely fast car even faster with a US$10,000 hardware update.
Courtesy of a fancy inconel super-alloy battery pack contactor and a smart fuse that has its own internal computer to detect short circuits, the fastest Model S P85D can become a full 10 per cent faster with a minor hardware upgrade that can be done at Tesla's service centres.
The new hardware actually came about from Tesla's own reliability testing, where the company has been trying to make its electric drivetrain last a million miles, but it has the pleasant side effect of increasing the amount of amperage that can be channelled through the fuse: and that means more power.
That new fuse carries 1500 amps before blowing versus the old design's 1300 amps, and the end result is a ludicrous Model S P85D that can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds, that can handle a standing quarter mile in 10.9 seconds, and a 20 per cent reduction in the time needed to reach the car's 155mph top speed.
While working on our goal of making the power train last a million miles, we came up with the idea for an advanced smart fuse for the battery.
That was combined with upgrading the main pack contractor to use inconel (a high temperature space-grade superalloy) instead of steel, so that it remains springy under the heat of heavy current.
What this results in is a 10 per cent improvement in the 0 to 60 mph time to 2.8 secs and a quarter mile time of 10.9 secs. Time to 155 mph is improved even more, resulting in a 20 per cent reduction.
There is of course one speed faster than ludicrous, but that is reserved for the next generation Roadster in 4 years: maximum plaid.
To be clear, this is phenomenally fast. It's in the same wheelhouse as the Ferrari 488 GTB, the Lamborghini Huracan and Aventador, and the McLaren P1 -- not bad for a four-door luxury car that weighs nearly 2500kg with a driver inside. The Model S is now by far the fastest four-door car on Earth.
We're checking with Tesla as to the projected Australian price for the upgrade.
A New 90kWh Battery Pack For The Longest Range Yet
There's a new top-spec battery pack option that can be specified if you're building yourself a new Model S. 85kWh Model S buyers -- that's the regular Model S 85, the Performance P85, and the dual-motor 85D, as well as the bonkers Performance dual-motor P85D -- can select a 6 per cent larger battery pack when they're purchasing, which results in a top range of 270 miles versus the 85kWh pack's 265 miles.
The difference in range in kilometres for Australian buyers should be a similar percentage -- expect around 530km rated range from the longest-range Model S with a 90kWh battery pack when it goes on sale in Australia. We're checking with Tesla as to an official range rating, so check back soon. Update: yep, Tesla says a 6 per cent range boost, which would mean a maximum one-charge distance of about 530km.
It is important to note that the battery pack size upgrade and the pack electronics upgrade are almost entirely independent. The first is about energy, which affects range, and the second is about power, which affects acceleration.
Model S 70: The Cheapest Tesla Yet
The dual-motor Model S 70D went on sale at a $102,400 RRP in Australia in April, and was the new cheapest Model S that you could buy after Tesla killed off the lesser-specced 60kWh pack in the Model S 60.
There's a new entry-level Model S, though, with only a single electric motor and the base 70kWh battery pack -- the Model S 70. There are more options included on the car as standard, too, so that's an additional saving over the previous model.
This will be the cheapest Model S in Australia, and should drop well below the $100,000 point. We're checking with Tesla as to the S 70's Australian starting price. Update: the starting price for the S 70 is $108,554 in Australia.
We are now offering the 70kWh version of the Model S in the single motor version for US$5k less than the dual motor, consistent with the price differential for the single and dual motor 85 kWh car. Importantly, enough options are now standard that you will have bought a great car even if you pick the base version.
But Wait, There's More...
Remember the Model X and the Model 3? Tesla does too. Elon Musk knows you're waiting:
I should address something that might be on your mind, like: "Where the heck is the Model X and the Model 3!? You should really get on that." Don't worry, those remain our focus and good progress is being made on both. X is on track for first deliveries in two months and Model 3 in just over two years.