Anyone who thinks you can’t get a thrill driving an electric vehicle is likely going to be in for a surprise Tesla Model S. Earlier this year, the maker unveiled the high-performance P85d, adding what it dubbed “Insane Mode,” capable of launching from 0 to 60 as quickly as a McLaren.
For those customers who didn’t think it was enough to go “Insane,” Tesla will take things a step further, adding the new Luuudicrous mode. It will allow the 7-seat sedan to launch from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 2.8 seconds while delivering a quarter-mile time of just 10.9 seconds, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced today.
“Nothing like having your own rollercoaster,” laughed Musk during a phone and Internet media conference. But he revealed Tesla is working on something yet again quicker. An all-new Roadster due out in four years will feature what Musk has curiously dubbed “Maximum Plaid” mode.
The launch of Luuudicrous Mode was one of three major announcements – and a few other tidbits – the South African-born Musk revealed during the call.
Tesla now also plans to add an even bigger battery pack that should be able to get the Model S up to around 300 miles range, Musk said, though he cautioned that final numbers will have to come from the EPA. The 90 kilowatt-hour pack will be offered to customers as a $3,000 upgrade over the current 85 kWh battery.
Meanwhile, Tesla will add a new base model, a single-motor version of the 70 kilowatt-hour 70d it launched earlier this year. It will be priced to start at $70,000.
As for the Luuudicrous Mode option, it will be available for $5,000. Unlike earlier performance packages, it brings a number of physical changes to the Model S drivetrain designed to allow a more than 30% increase in current draw, to 1,500 amps, during hard acceleration without overheating the system, Musk explained.
Under flat-out acceleration, he noted, the Model S will now be able to generate 1.1Gs during launch, while it also can handle 1G in a corner.
During a Q&A session with reporters Musk noted that Tesla is making “little improvements here and there all over the car,” about 20 upgrades a week. Some are as minor as a trim change. Others are more significant, including battery upgrades.
The new 90 kWh lithium-ion pack uses a new silicon-infused anode in its batteries, a “baby step” design change Tesla plans to pursue further as part of a broader goal, Musk said, of improving battery pack energy capacity “by about 5% a year.”
(Panasonic will help Tesla launch its new gigafactory, Click Here for more.)
Along with the three big announcements, Musk talked about several other updates in the works. He confirmed he is personally testing the latest version of the Tesla operating system, dubbed 7.0, which will offer a hands-free highway driving mode.
“Right now, it works incredibly well if the highway markings are clear,” he explained, adding that the system will need be able to handle less perfect conditions before it can be released to the public.
Nonetheless, Musk said he expects the software to be released to a select group of consumer beta testers “in about two weeks,” and the results they report will influence how quickly the technology rolls out across the board.
Separately, Musk emphasized that development work for the maker’s next two models is “on track.” After a two-year delay, the Model X SUV is due out this quarter, with the more mainstream Model III sedan due to follow in about two years.
(For more on Tesla’s plans for the Model X and autonomous driving, Click Here.)
One of the reasons for the delay of the Model X was the need to make major engineering changes rather than simply putting a ute body on the Model S platform. According to the CEO, only about 30% of the sedan’s parts will now be carried over to the ute.
One thing they will share is the high-performance Luuudicrous Mode, but because of the 10% greater weight of the Model X, he cautioned, buyers will likely only be able to launch from 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds.
(There’s one place Tesla doesn’t get it right, says new study. Click Here to see where that is.)