Tesla unleashes the model D
The electric car company has been tinkering with its existing premium sedan and the result is a car that can accelerate faster than a Ferrari, take icy conditions in its stride and even park itself when the fun's over.
At a special event in LA, Tesla's CEO and real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk took the wraps off three new editions to the existing Model S range that will carry a 'D' designation and that will keep the car company on an equal footing with any of its closest rivals.
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Fans -- many of whom had been invited to the reveal -- had been hoping that the company was about to officially launch the long-awaited Model X SUV or even an entirely new more affordable sedan, but still left excited about what the D can do.
Tesla has packed two more electric motors into the car to drive each of the front wheels -- so now it's all-wheel-drive -- and that means better grip, traction and handling, whatever the on-road conditions and a longer range between recharging stops.
And, if customers take the top-of-the-range P85D version, that extra power going to the front wheels means that the car is capable of going from 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds. To put that remarkable turn of speed into context, the Ferrari 458 Italia -- a two-seat, two-door supercar -- can hit 100km/h (62mph) from standstill in 3.0 seconds flat, but it doesn't have a cavernous trunk for luggage and room in the back for three adults. As such, the Tesla is now the world's fastest accelerating four-door car.
Musk likened driving the car to owning your own roller coaster, and when the car goes on sale owners will be able to choose between 'normal', 'sport' and the 'insane' driving setting for unleashing all of that power. 'It's actually true, it'll say 'insane',' said Musk.
As well as the hell-raising P85D, there will also be two more sedate sedan models, the S 60D and S75D, but all three will offer the same all-wheel drive and a host of semi-autonomous driving features which Musk described as the absolute limit of what's possible from a legal, technological and regulatory standpoint.
The car will be able to automatically change lane, monitor blind spots, identify road signs and obey speed limits while in cruise control mode. Its scanners and sensors mean that it should also be able to actively avoid collisions and spot potential obstacles.
However, the car's party piece will be its ability to park, which technically it can do without the driver even being there. Musk described a scenario where because the car is aware of the owner's routine and appointments, it automatically opens the garage door, pulls out and drives round to great him or her as they step out the house.