Tesla is going from being insane to the utterly ludicrous with a new battery and electronics package for its Model S sedan.
“Insane Mode has been incredibly well-received,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told reporters on a conference call. “We figured out from an engineering standpoint how to go beyond Insane, so we figured we should release that.”
Ludicrous Mode is a $10,000 U.S. option that will take the new Model S P90D all-wheel drive sedan from zero to 100 km/h in just over three seconds, which is a half-second quicker than the Insane Mode introduced on the P85D in Fall 2014, and is actually quicker than a Porsche 911 Turbo. That’s kind of counter-productive for an electric car (which needs leisurely acceleration to realize a longer driving range, and therefore, consumer acceptance as an everyday vehicle), but then Tesla has always promoted itself as a different kind of electric car.
The upgraded Model S – the P90D –uses a new 90 kWh battery (up five from the P85D), which adds about 25 km to driving range (raising it to about 485, which is as close to “normal” driving range as you will get in a dedicated electric vehicle, provided you don’t try out the “ludicrous” acceleration potential.
The added get-up-and-go is actually governed by new components and electronics, with a more robust fuse that’s less prone to melting once the battery exceeds its safe draw (which is capped at about 1,300 amps). With the new fuse (and its own tiny lithium ion battery to keep it in check and cut power if it senses a meltdown) and a new superalloy switch (replacing the previous steel switch), the battery can fire out an extra 200 amps, which improves speed.
Current P85D owners can get the larger battery and upgraded electronics for about $8,000 plus labour.
The bigger battery is seen as another step toward the Model X utility vehicle (reportedly due in the Fall of 2015), which needs the bigger battery to counteract the added weight of the SUV (estimated to be 10 percent heavier and, therefore, use about 10 percent more energy to move the same distance), which will employ the dual motor all-wheel drive system added to the Model S in October 2014.
As for Ludicrous Mode, that would mean the Model X SUV would accelerate to 100 km/h in less than four seconds, which is … well … ludicrous for an SUV.