Since Tesla unveiled its new Model D on October 9th, it has earned a lot of approval from consumers and reviewers, plus a lewd joke here and there. Despite its smirk-inducing nickname, the “D” got the warm reception Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been hoping for.
Although technically, the D is simply an upgraded version of the model S, it addresses and improves on a lot of the Model S’ weaknesses, much to the delight of automobile junkies. The Tesla Model D promises better performance and control even in difficult weather, faster acceleration and—to some—most importantly, all-wheel-drive.
While all-wheel-drive is but one feature out of many, it became a big shortcoming for Tesla’s Model S because back in 2012, when the model was first introduced, it was one of the few performance cars that didn’t have the feature. This posed a huge problem for Tesla, as all their competitors released vehicles with all-wheel-drive that same year. All-wheel-drive is an important feature for performance cars like the Model S, especially when it comes to driving in colder climates.
Latest releases of the Model S will carry a D at the end, which is more than just a change in name. The Tesla Model D will also feature a new motor at the front, along with the usual motor at the back of the car. The new models come in three configurations, 60D, 85D, and P85D, with the latter being the most costly. Tesla’s P85D will be available to consumers starting December this year, with the other two configurations following suit in February next year. According to Tesla, the P85D has a base price of around $120,000 more or less.
Most customers are curious as to how the configurations will affect car range and maneuverability. Elon Musk proudly says that with the new configuration, the Tesla Model D has gained an additional 10 miles for each charge. The car also has a treat for speed junkies everywhere – now you can go from zero to 60 in just 3.2 seconds.
Tesla also added several safety modifications to the cars, giving the car more autonomy. With built-in sensors and cameras, the Model D is programmed to look for things like other cars, obstructions and road lines. While this is still far from the complete autonomy that the automobile industry has been dreaming for, it is Tesla’s way of staying ahead of Europe’s car safety standards. Duly dubbed the “autopilot mode”, the complex system of forward looking radars, sonars and image recognition cameras is designed to give the car more lane control, plus emergency braking and automatic parallel parking features.
Every new Model S is Autopilot enabled. pic.twitter.com/KH9Mx7GF21
— Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) October 10, 2014
The additional system may just seem like a small contribution to the automobile industry’s overall goal of achieving full car automation, but Musk says it is a glimpse into the future of cars. Imagine a day when autopilot is less about keeping cars in their perspective lanes and more about full computer control.