Tesla reveals new Model S options including “Ludicrous mode”

A Tesla Model S P85d car is displayed at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in Shanghai on April 20, 2015.
Photograph by Johannes Eisele — AFP/Getty Images

While the world waits for electric car maker Tesla to deliver its next car, the Model X, CEO Elon Musk on Friday announced three new options for the company’s Model S electric car.

They include a longer battery range, a lower priced car, and “Ludicrous mode” for faster acceleration.

Drivers will be able to upgrade their Model S from a 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack to a 90 kilowatt-hour battery. The new extended range will increase the pack energy by 5%, and add about 15 miles of range.

The battery upgrade, which will cost $3,000, will be available on new cars and as an upgrade for existing owners. Musk said on the call that he doesn’t recommend that customers who already own a Model S buy the upgrade.

Musk told reporters that the increased battery is from improved battery chemistry, and not from a bigger battery. Tesla’s tweaks include more silicon in the anode part of the battery, said Musk. A battery is made up of two electrodes—a cathode (positive) and an anode (negative)—and a medium, called the electrolyte, through which the electric charge flows.

A Panasonic Corp's lithium-ion battery is pictured with Tesla Motors logo in Tokyo
A Panasonic Corp’s lithium-ion battery, which is part of Tesla Motor Inc’s Model S and Model X battery packs, is pictured with Tesla Motors logo during a photo opportunity at the Panasonic Center in Tokyo, ahead of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, November 19, 2013. The Tokyo Motor Show will be held from November 22 to December 1. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN – Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS LOGO) – RTX15JFNPhotograph by Yuya Shino — Reuters
Photograph by Yuya Shino — Reuters

Tesla will also sell a lower priced, $70,000 Model S, with a 70 kilowatt-hour battery and a single motor. Musk wrote in a release that the price is about “$50,000 after incentives & gas savings.”

This option is Tesla’s lowest-priced car to date. In a couple of years, Tesla plans to launch the Model 3, which is supposed to cost around $35,000.

Finally, Tesla is offering a performance upgrade on the Model S to what it calls “Ludicrous mode,” which lets drivers accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. That added juice, which costs $10,000 extra, is a 10% improvement in acceleration over the standard, which is 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds.

Tesla says the tech behind the faster acceleration speed is a new and better battery fuse, which has a smarter way to protect against excessive current. Tesla says its new fuse has its own electronics and a tiny lithium-ion battery, and the system constantly monitors the current and can cut the power with precision.

In a blog post Musk joked: “There is of course one speed faster than ludicrous, but that is reserved for the next generation Roadster in 4 years: maximum plaid.” I’m pretty sure that reference is to the comedy movie Spaceballs.

Tesla is looking to deliver 55,000 cars this year, two-thirds more than it did in 2014. As of the beginning of July, Tesla had moved 21,537 of its Model S cars, less than half of its annual goal.

Despite these new features for the Model S, all eyes are on whether or not Tesla can deliver its Model X, a crossover SUV, on time in the next couple of months. Tesla (TSLA) needs to launch the Model X before the end of the year in order to meet that goal of delivering 55,000 cars this year.


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