Last Friday, Elon Musk held a press conference to announce three new options for the Tesla Model S. The one that grabbed the most headlines is the addition of a “Ludicrous mode” for the P85D. Thanks to a change in the electronics linking the battery pack and motor, Tesla has increased the power available at the touch of a toe from 1,300 amps to a maximum of 1,500 amps.
The extra power lets the car storm to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. That’s 3 tenths faster than before and faster than your body accelerates during a free fall from an airplane, says Musk. The upgrade to the Model S P85D eliminates the word Insane from the car’s menu of selectable performance options shown on the touchscreen and replaces it with the word Ludicrous.
The Ludicrous option adds $10,000 to the price of the Model S P85D. Those who have already purchased one can get the upgrade installed on their cars for just $5,000, but only for the next 6 months. Musk admitted that no one was calling for faster acceleration but the company wanted to impress the world with its engineering prowess anyway.
For those who do not spend their lives doing the stop light grand prix in traffic or making videos at the local drag strip, the other changes announced on Friday may be of more interest. The least expensive Model S now costs $5,000 less and comes with just a rear mounted motor. It retails for $70,000. The dual motor S70D is still available and remains at $75,000.
Tesla also now offers a 90 kWh battery pack as a $3,000 upgrade to the regular Model S 85. It is the same size as the standard 85 kWh battery. The larger capacity comes as a result of new anode chemistry that uses more silicon. With it, the car has a range of 300 miles at 65 mph, according to Musk. In the real world, some drivers have found their range can be significantly less than the ideal. As makers of combustion engine cars have been saying for years, “Your mileage may vary. See dealer for details.”
Musk did say two things at the press conference that got little notice but are important. First, he said the company expects to increase battery capacity by roughly 5% per year. That means by 2017, a 100 kWh battery might be available. Second, he said that range for the Model X will be about 10% less than the Model S. That’s no surprise, since the SUV is heavier than the sedan it is based on. The new 90 kWh battery is the result of ongoing research that was part of the Model X development program.