Tesla Gives German Owners Free Tuning for the Autobahn

By · October 23, 2013

Model S Driving

The Tesla Model S will get performance tuning in Germany to enable it to thrive on the Autobahn.

Since the introduction of the Model S introduction in mid-2012, Tesla Motors has been continually upgrading the car’s technical specifications, such as having the hideaway door handles slide open when you approach the vehicle and adding a Trip Planner to help drivers manage electricity consumption. Tesla took that to a new level this week with its announcement that in Germany its all-electric luxury sedans will be tuned for ideal driving on the country's famous Autobahn.

Most of the world's public highways have reasonable speed limits, but small sections of Germany’s famous freeway network, otherwise known as the Autobahn, have no official speed limit. While there is a minimum speed limit—and a “recommended” top speed—drivers are allowed to drive as fast as their cars, and their skill, will allow.

To take advantage of those small unrestricted sections of Autobahn, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced to a packed audience at Tesla’s Munich service center on Monday that Model S customers in Germany would be offered free custom tuning so that the car feels “really great at top speed.” For now, the tuning modification is only available in Europe, but it’s conceivable that Tesla could offer the service elsewhere.

Faster Charging, Too

Tuning for higher-speed driving isn’t the only special offering for European Tesla customers. Musk said that highway-based Superhargers—expected to cover all of Germany by the end of 2014—would operate at a maximum power of 135 kilowatts. That's 15 kilowatts more powerful than U.S. Superchargers.

The difference in power between the two continents is a product of the differences between the fundamental charging technology between Europe and North America. In the U.S., Tesla uses modular 10 kW chargers in both its cars and its Supercharger stations. Model S customers can specify single or dual on-board chargers for 10kW or 20kW charge capability, while Supercharger stations are built with 12 10kW modules wired in parallel to give 120 kW of charging capability.

For Europe, where three-phase power is common, Tesla developed a three-phase, 11 kilowatt charging module. It uses a modified Type 2 charging inlet on its cars instead of its own proprietary charging connector. As a result, the Model S can be configured with single 11 kW three-phase on-board charging or or double up for 22 kW charging. In essence, the special configuration means 10 percent more miles of range added for the same time connected to a comparable U.S.-based Supercharger.

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