On Oct. 9, Tesla CEO Elton Musk gleefully announced Model D, the company’s fastest-ever production car. Officially called P85D, the Model D has dual motors, 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds, and all-wheel drive.

“This car is nuts,” Musk exclaimed. “It’s like taking off from a carrier deck. It’s just bananas.”

Musk said the acceleration target was the McLaren F1, one of the world’s fastest cars.  As the crowd applauded, Musk smiled. Obviously, at 3.2 seconds, the Model D will be right up there as one of the world’s fastest sedans ever when it starts shipping in December.

In essence, the D is a performance package that elevates the admittedly groundbreaking Model S electric car to something, well, extraordinary. The P85D doesn’t look any different than the Model S sedan, but the changes are all under the skin – in this case, that’s where it counts.

Musk joked that the driver will have three options: normal, sport and “insane.”

Autopilot – Almost

Aside from the rocketing acceleration, another prominent feature is the Model D’s ability to drive in a semi-autonomous mode. What’s standing in the way of fully autonomous driving, Musk said, is that the car’s safety system can’t be fully relied on yet and regulations on self-driving cars have yet to be determined.

The D has the following active safety features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Ability to “read” speed limit signs and automatically slow the car, accordingly
  • Ability to stay in its lane
  • Ability to stop itself automatically if a crash is imminent
  • Ability to change lanes by itself, when the driver activates the turn signal
  • Park itself, in the garage or on the street

This is all due to 12 radar sensors that can see around the car even through snow and fog, and a camera with image-recognition capability (to detect traffic signs and lights and pedestrians), 360-degree sonar, and a system combining all of this data with navigation, GPS and real-time traffic systems.

Interestingly, Musk said the car even has the capability to be summoned by the owner to pick them up autonomously, as long as the vehicle is on private property where Department of Transportation and other regulations don’t apply.

“The car can do almost anything,” Musk quipped.

Musk said that two other models with this technology, the 60D and 85D, will roll out early next year. The automated driving system was designed to prevent accidents from drivers who are distracted or drowsy, and to even allow vehicles to park themselves.

Performance at a Price

Those looking to latch onto the Tesla Model D should expect to pay for the privilege. The top-of-the-line P85D costs $120,170.

As for the 60 kWh model that normally starts at $70,070, that jumps to $75,070 with the addition of the D package. The 85 kWh model goes from $81,070 to $85,070.

And this isn’t even Tesla’s all-new model. That would be the Model X SUV, followed by the long-awaited “affordable” EV called the E3.


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