By on February 10, 2014

tesla-model-s-03

During a Tesla townhall meeting at the automaker’s European headquarters in Amsterdam, CEO Elon Musk announced to owners that an all-wheel drive version of the vaunted S would arrive in showrooms by the early months of 2015 at the latest.

The arrival comes on the heels of the Model X SUV, which will come standard with the AWD system when it makes its showroom debut in 2015. The system utilizes two electric motors, each driving the front or rear wheels while pushing the electric SUV from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds for the Performance option. Power for both the X and S models will come from higher-capacity battery options, eventually including those made with cheaper batteries from Tesla’s “giga factory.”

Planned to be the largest battery plant in the world, the factory will be built in the United States sometime soon, and will be able to recycle older battery units in-house with refitting visiting Teslas with newer packs. The eventual goal is to drive battery costs down by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent while pushing 30 gigawatt-hours of production capacity, just in time for Tesla’s $30,000/200-mile EV debut in the near future. More information will be announced in March, when Musk will also divulge the location of the new factory.

For current owners, a firmware upgrade will be available in a few weeks: Version 6.0 adds real-time traffic data, more control over ride height and suspension settings, and other improvements. Down the road, owners can also upgrade their seats for greater comfort, while future owners of S and X models will have those seats as standard equipment.

Finally, owners will be able to go coast-to-coast thanks to Tesla’s Supercharger stations, whose transcontinental network was completed recently — with a transcontinental road trip to celebrate the occasion — and is now adding capacity at a rate of five of the charging stations coming online per week. The chargers are expected to recharge batteries at a max of 135 kW current.

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46 Comments on “Tesla S Goes AWD, Comes With Cheaper Batteries, Upgraded Firmware...”


  • avatar

    Well, this is all very exciting stuff. The X model I’ve seen in pics is a knockout. What TESLA has accomplished so far is just off the charts impressive. As time goes on we’ll find out the real cost of ownership. We’ll need to weigh the cost of recharging and battery replacement with the cost of gasoline. I certainly hope TESLA shows a significant advantage. But the proof in the pudding will be if TESLA’s Model S is actually worth what Musk has pegged them to be worth…. that is, in the REAL market, not one off anecdotes.

    So far, I’m a big fan. I’m not a Musk fan based on PayPal, but you have to give him his due on TESLA.

    • 0 avatar

      This x-country trip is still a stunt. I want to know what they greatest distance was that they had to travel between recharging stations, how many times they had to recharge, and how many hours they spent recharging (18? 20?).

      80% of the population may live near (how near?) a charging station, as per E. Musk, but my guess is that less than 20% of the land area of the lower 48 is covered.

      This is not to say that Tesla won’t ultimately saturate the nation with its recharging stations, or that they won’t ultimately solve the twin problems of range (that is, give the driver 300-plus miles for a middle class price) and recharging time, but until they do, Tesla will remain a niche.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Recycling their own batteries is a good idea, especially since Tesla consumes so many 18650 cells.

    What I don’t understand is whether the increased capacity packs will grow in individual cell energy density, or just more cells. Cell energy density is not growing very fast in the industry.

    The story also notes that Mr Musk referred to the mythical Model E as the “Model E” for the first time. I’m waiting for Ford’s lame response.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Complete this sentence:

    “Tesla is the most successful North American new car manufacturer since . . . “

  • avatar

    No matter what new car you build, AWD better be an option. It doesn’t have to be standard, but it better be an option.

    This weekend I had a Q4 Ghibli and was shocked at the $95,000 pricetag you’d have to front just to get the features and options in my $70,000 JGCSRT or $55,000 300SRT and you’re still only getting a V6 mated to the same 8-speed in my Jeep.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Luxury nameplate costs more! Watch at 11!

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Actually, IMO the interesting bits relate to how the 2 motors are geared. Put the shorter gearing in the back for quick launches and the taller gearing in front for highway cruising. A front motor should also improve regeneration pretty dramatically. It wouldn’t surprise me if a “typical” driving loop returned better mileage with 2 motors in such a fashion.

  • avatar
    7402

    There goes the frunk. I’m guessing they’ll lose at least some of it to the motor in front.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Well, marketing wins over science. Every soccer mom wants all wheel drive because it is a security blanket for bad drivers.

    In other news, people I know with the half-ass AWD systems report that even with the impressive snowfall of this winter, the darn AWD never kicks in and they get around fine on 2WD.

    • 0 avatar
      daver277

      Good point…
      The AWD systems allow poor drivers to drive in conditions when they shouldn’t be on the road, oblivious to the conditions. Last I checked, every car has 4WBrakes and 4wd just reduces spinning so the drivers who shouldn’t be driving are totally unaware that there may be a traction situation happening.
      On mountain passes here in BC, the police often issue special advisories to SUVs because so many end up in the ditch.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Is there not an option in those for SNOW, to lock it at 50/50 power?

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Hey Corey,

        If you’re referring to typical “slip and grip” AWD with respect to a 50/50 lock… most don’t. AFAIK Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, GM, Ford (although I hear the new escape AWD is much improved), VW Tiguan, VW/Audi, Haldex systems, etc are fully automatic and there is no driver intervention.

        I believe the Compass/Patriot, and Suzuki SX4, and *possibly* the Mitsubishi ones have an option to “lock”, but typically they only lock under 30km/h, and once this speed is exceeded they revert to their typical operation.

        Lock or no, these clutch packs that drive the rear wheels are prone to overheating, when locked or slogging through a real mess.

        If you’re referring to 50/50 lock emulation on the Tesla, no freaking clue.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I was referring to the power lockout switch, so you don’t get power surges etc, when you already know it’s slippery ahead of time.

          My M has a 50/50 lockout switch. Does not adjust throttle sensitivity or gearing however.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Is that lockout speed limited?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t find reliable information on it. Some say 18mph limited, others say it isn’t. But those saying 18mph indicated it started out in second and had reduced throttle sensitivity, which is NOT true for the M35x.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Huh, I had no idea Infiniti uses a center clutch pack rather than a diff (torsen or otherwise), which I believed is the norm in RWD biased cars.

            The more you know.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      How about AWD just to leave your parking stall? I’m running Michelin X-Ice XI2′s, and just this winter I’ve been stuck 3 times. Metal cleated traction aids have been my saving grace, but AWD would be better.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        How old are those Xi2′s? I had a set of X-Ice and I found that they weren’t great snow tires once they wore down even a little bit. Good grip on icey surfaces though (good on ice being relative of course).

        • 0 avatar
          WaftableTorque

          I bought them new in 2010. They replaced my Michelin Pilot Alpin PA2′s, a performance winter tire that just couldn’t handle Edmonton winters. I got stuck a lot. The XI2′s made things much better for both ice and snow, as if I added the weight of 4 adults and maybe another 200lb of sandbag ballast in the trunk.

          I’ve found them as good today as they were new.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            What are you driving, if I can pry?

            Yeah the Pilot Alpins are better than all seasons but still definitely weight on the performance side of the spectrum. A few of my colleagues have used them, to varying degrees of success, depending on the car and also competence of the driver. I recommended CoreyDL buy a set of Pilot Aplin’s for Ohio winter conditions, on his new AWD Infiniti M.

            When I lived in Edmonton, I was running Nokians and never had any issues. But thats a kind of high sitting FWD econobox. My first winter in Calgary I got a smoking deal on a mounted set of XIce, and while they were decent, when I subsequently went back to Nokians, I felt they were a better tire for running all over the prairies.

          • 0 avatar
            WaftableTorque

            A 12 year old LS430. It was in pristine condition minus a few issues (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/piston-slap-the-ultra-luxury-package-peeled/) up until Dec 31st, when someone smacked my rear bumper and cracked the bumper cover in several places. I didn’t even notice the hit and run until I washed my car and saw the damage. I got doubly ticked off because the wand wash I was using blew off one of the headlight washer covers.

            Fortunately I fully detailed and waxed the car on Saturday, so I fell in love with it again. I’ll probably repair the damage out of pocket.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      Meh, I aint buying an f-ing pair of snow tires just so that I can make it up my driveway.

      I live in Northern Virginia. We had no snow last year, at least 6 inches of snow this year, and 3 years ago we had 20 inches. When I lived in northern Illinois, it made sense to put on snow tires. Not here. Snow is a crap-shoot: it’s mostly non-existent, but when you have it, it’s bad. And compared to northern Illinois, which was straight and level, some of these NoVA roads are twisty and steep mountain roads.

      I’ve vowed that my next car will be four-wheel-drive. My rear-wheel-drive BMW is worthless in the snow around here, and more often than not, can not make it up the driveway with the littlest bit of ice or snow (our neighborhood is better, but not by much). My wife’s FWD car is far better, but can still have serious problems. On the other hand, my neighbor’s 4wd Passat has no problem making it up our 150ft shared driveway (pipestem in Fairfax).

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    “…just in time for Tesla’s $30,000/200-mile EV debut…”

    I’ll believe that when I see it. We’re at least 20 years away from batteries being cheap enough to offer a moderate-sized 200 mile EV for $30K, without subsidies.

    “…drive battery costs down by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent…”

    Drive down battery costs by putting a factory in the U.S.? I want some of what Musk is smoking.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Part of the savings could be through better automation. Since they plan on feeding the plant with recycled batteries, the US makes more sense since transportation costs will be lower and more importantly the turn-around time will be shorter.

      I think gasoline fueled SOC fuel cells will be here in ten years. The metal air battery researchers are still identifying what their problems are, but the SOC guys just need to deal with cooling down the stacks – and they think they have it figured out. The good news is that a Tesla should be an easy retrofit.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      When I hear $30k + 200 mi range, I interpret it as $40k + 150 mi range. If Tesla hits those numbers, I’d consider it a success.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    “The chargers are expected to recharge batteries at a max of 135 kW current.”

    By my math, a gasoline pump running at 5 gal/minute (the low end of the typical range) carries an equivalent power of 11.4 megawatts. Even allowing that 70% of the energy in the gasoline is wasted in the engine, you get an equivalent of 3.42MW, or 25 times faster than a supercharger.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You aren’t supposed to do the math.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        Politicians count on the fact that people either can’t or don’t bother to do the math when they promote boondoggles like wind and solar power, funded at taxpayer expense.
        .
        .

    • 0 avatar

      Tell you what… do the math again, only input the cost savings involved when you figure the difference between the speed of pumping gas vs. the FREE charging that Superchargers give the owner of a Tesla. Personally, I’d rather take 30 or 40 minutes to drive free for the next 250 miles than to have to pay $50 just to get away from the pumps a little sooner.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        The charging isn’t free. It’s built into the cost of the car.
        .
        .

      • 0 avatar
        285exp

        If I recall correctly, you pay for these Supercharger charges with reduced battery life, and if you think that those charges will always be free of charge, you apparently believe in Santa Claus. Right now the chances are that those Supercharger stations aren’t going to have all of the recharging stations occupied when you show up for your “free” charge, but as they get a larger installed base of customer vehicles you’re going to start having to que up, and your short 30 minute wait is going to be an hour.

        They are just trying to overcome the obvious unwillingness of people to spend hours and hours waiting for their cars to charge. Free stuff is always great, until it ain’t free anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      KW is not current, BTW

  • avatar
    redliner

    Perhaps the Model E will use recycled Model S batteries instead of brand new batteries. That could be one way they bring the cost down.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’ve only driven a Tesla Model S P85 for a very brief stint, and have to say I was very impressed. Now, if only I could come up with the $80,000 to buy one, well lease…

    I think I want my next car to be AWD just so I can see what all the hype is about. I’ve only ever had FWD and my Blazer that’s 4×4 with selectable 4×2 HI, 4×4 HI, and 4×4 LO (which I generally keep in 4×2 HI). I’d be curious to know what the difference is.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “I think I want my next car to be AWD just so I can see what all the hype is about . . .”

      Be careful, there are a lot of AWD systems out there and most are far more complex and less functional in bad conditions than your simple 4WD system. The only advantage any have over yours is that they can be used full-time in any road conditions. The disadvantages will vary dramatically from one system to the next. Do your research and decide what you want out of the system.

      The closest to yours in functionality would be manual transmission Subarus, which use a center differential with a viscous coupling limited slip. The coupling mechanically only allows a small amount of relative slip before effectively locking, and functions as an open differential the rest of the time. No electronics involved.

      The hype is about having a 0-60 of ten seconds rather than twenty seconds in winter conditions. Far more useful for those who regularly drive in winter conditions than the difference between a V6 model that does 0-60 in six seconds on dry pavement compared to its I4 base model that can only do it in eight. Yet somehow choosing AWD receives more criticism than choosing an unnecessarily powerful engine.


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