A week ago, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk teased a new product called the “D” from the electric car maker. Now we finally know what the D is: a high-performance, dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version of the Model S capable of zipping from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just over three seconds.
“We’re able to improve almost everything about the car,” Musk said at a red carpet event held at an airport in Hawthorne, California (home of SpaceX, his space transport company). “It’s a rare case you’re able to do something like that.”
Aside from all-wheel drive, the new additions to the Model S lineup clock faster acceleration, higher top speed, and longer range.
Compared with the current Model S, the D has a range that is 10 miles longer, able to travel upwards of 275 miles on a full charge. Where the Model S only has rear-wheel drive, the all-wheel-drive sedan features a second motor to power the front wheels. The top-of-the-line AWD P85D can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds, putting it on par with the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 muscle car.
“This car is nuts,” he added. “It’s like having your own personal roller coaster–just use it anytime.”
The new vehicles are equipped with sensors to help aid drivers–hardware that already exists in Tesla cars manufactured in the last two weeks. New driver-assistance technology includes long-range radar (to read signs, recognize traffic lights, and distinguish pedestrians), 360-degree ultrasonic sonar to help the vehicle “see” all around it, automatic cruise control, and active emergency braking. The car can also park itself. If it has access to the owner’s calendar, it can meet him or her at a given time and location–taking note of cabin temperature and music preferences.
Musk made sure to label these capabilities as “autopilot” features, emphasizing the cars are not truly autonomous. While he said the vehicles are capable of driving themselves, they don’t yet meet safety and regulatory standards. “It’s not at a level where you can safely fall asleep and arrive at your destination,” he said.
Last month, the chief executive told reporters the Palo Alto, California-based company is developing technology that will let its cars operate on “full autopilot“–news that led many to speculate that “D” could stand for driverless. “I think in the long term, all Tesla cars will have autopilot capability,” he said then, noting the technology is expected in about five years.