LOS ANGELES, October 29, 2014 — The car world is agog this morning as Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk launched a “self-driving” Model S and a “supercar territory” fast all-wheel-drive Model D just before the LA Auto Show in November. This trump card to Musk’s already too-many-to-count awards for his Model S seems to be yet another mammoth sneer to every petrol-loving car manufacturer on the planet.
So what is Tesla’s new Model D? It’s a Star Trek-like capsule for drivers who love speed, luxury, sustainability and the latest technology. And who doesn’t want to go 60 mph in 3.2 seconds? As if having no torque from the get go isn’t enough, Musk has added an advanced all-wheel drive (AWD) system to create further efficiency and road grip for inclement climates.
CNET’s Wayne Cunningham reported last night’s launch was “crowded with Tesla fans in Los Angeles.” Apparently, Musk and his special events crew unveiled its new D car using a giant red robot arm, which reminded many auto journalists of the film Iron Man.
Cunningham notes Tesla’s new “autopilot hardware” includes “forward-looking radar and camera, combined with all-around long-range ultrasonic sensors. A software update being sent out to cars as an over-the-air update will enable driver-assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automated parking.”
USA Today seems to be given some exclusive and claims the “highlights” of the Model S’ new “exotic” features include:
–The new system will move the car over a lane when the driver uses the turn signal.
–The car reads speed-limit signs and adjusts the car to the speed on the sign.
–Drivers will be able to get out of the car in their driveways and watch it park itself in the garage. When drivers are ready to leave, the car will able to drive itself up, with the car’s temperature and stereo system set to the driver’s preferences.
“In addition,” so says Cunningham, “Musk said owners will be able to summon their cars, or set a calendar so the cars will meet them at a prearranged spot. However, this capability will only be enabled on private property to avoid liability issues.”
After the flashy presentation, auto journalists were given the chance to try the “autopilot” software to the test inside a Model S. Tesla built a short track for the controlled driving demonstrations. Some of the “tests” included the car’s ability “recognize speed limit signs” and “set its speed accordingly,” so says Cunningham. He also relays his road test about how the car “self self-steered, following curving lane lines, then braked for stopped traffic ahead.” Most of the savvy auto journalists stopped short of calling it auto driving and, like Cunningham, deemed these “very advanced” capabilities as “forms of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.”
Cunningham says Tesla’s new D option will be available in three versions: 60, 85 and P85. Both the 60 and 85 will be mated to a 188 hp electric motor while the top-of-the-line P85 is equipped with a 221 hp motor in the front. It is this top-of-the-line Tesla Model P85D that gets a “blistering 3.2 seconds and a range goes up 10 miles…top speed is also increased to 155 mph,” so says Cunningham, who described the “decidedly faster” P85 version as a “neck snapper” and “insane.”
With its growing “free” infrastructure and increasingly affordable all-electric fleet of luxury cars, Tesla is truly changing the way America drives and what could be better than to have a carbon neutral luxury vehicle drive you around during a climate crisis?