Tesla Reveals All-Wheel Drive and Self-Driving Technologies

By · October 10, 2014

Tesla Dual Motor schematic

Tesla announced Thursday that it will offer all-wheel-drive versions of its Model S electric car. The new offering will slightly increase range by about 10 miles per charge compared to the current rear-drive models. In its longest range vehicle, the boost in efficiency will bring driving distance on a full charge to 275 miles.

The AWD cars, which will add the letter “D” to the badge, have a second electric motor to drive the front wheels. The D stands for dual-motor.

The P85D, the high-performance model with AWD, is expected by December—with the 60D and 85D arriving by February, according to Tesla.

The addition of all-wheel drive will allow the Model S to handle snowy driving conditions. It also boosts 0-60 mph time to 3.2 seconds in the high-performance model. "Literally everything improves about the car with dual-motor," said Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive.

Tesla’s all-wheel-drive system will be deployed in its Model X sport utility that goes on sale sometime next year.

At its Thursday press conference, Tesla also announced a suite of safety and automated driving systems, without providing a definitive timeline. The list of technologies, which have become familiar in the first wave of semi-autonomous driving packages, include radar, sonar, cameras with image recognition, and other advanced sensors. These technologies allow lane-keeping and automated lane switches; speed adjustments based on posted speed-limit signs; and self-parking.

Musk told reporters that the company expects to have a "fully autonomous car" in five or six years." He also said that Tesla will open a battery-swap station, between Los Angels and San Francisco, later this year.

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