This week, Tesla announced the release of the Model S P100D with Ludicrous mode — nothing more than a simple upgrade to a 100kWh battery — and the world went wild. Why? Because this upgrade enables the Model S to travel from 0 – 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, giving it the fastest acceleration of any currently available production car (the slightly quicker Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder are no longer available with that coveted New Car Smell). Like all electric vehicles, that more powerful battery delivers 100% of its dual-engine torque immediately, pushing the four-wheel-drive saloon past records heretofore the domain of million-dollar supercars.
But while the world is focusing on 2.5 seconds, a very small number, there’s another, much larger number that is ultimately more important — one that pushes Tesla into the domain of mid-sized family sedans. And we’re talking about range — 315 miles of it.
There is a phenomenon known as “range anxiety”, the fear of running out of juice while you’re out running errands. This primal emotion was baked into our consciousness by early modern EVs — cars like the first Nissan Leaf — which had ranges of under 100 miles. It’s coupled with the complexity of roadside refueling in an EV; it’s not as if you can call your brother-in-law to bring you a gallon of electrons. More and better charging stations is one form of automotive Ativan (Tesla and others are working hard on that, but it will be a long time before Indiana is as successful as Estonia) but better batteries are a more convenient option.
The holy grail of EV range has long been 300 miles, which would bring electrics into the full-tank range of most petrol-powered vehicles. Now, 300 miles doesn’t make for a stress-free cross-county road trip, but there’s a lot to be said for enjoying a real meal while your Tesla charges rather than buying Slim Jims and Diet Dr Pepper in the 10 minutes it takes to gas up your petromobile. Besides, when you leave the charging station at Ludicrous speed, you’ve made up for some of that lost time.
The Model S P100D saloon will start at £114,200 and the Model X 100D sport-utility vehicle begins at £117,200, and older Teslas can upgrade their battery packs for a mere £15,000. That’s expensive, but Tesla is taking the Toms shoes model approach to your wallet. “While the P100D Ludicrous is obviously an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasize that every sale helps pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development.” In other words, your need to go very far, very fast helps fund the electric vehicle needs of others less fortunate than you. Everybody wins! Unless the guy in the left lane is driving a 918 Spyder.
Mr Musk is betting big on batteries. He’s going to make sure we get to the future — and quickly.
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