Tesla launches new D model with 4W drive and autopilot feature

10 Oct 2014

A Tesla car at the launch of the Tesla store in Berlin last month. Image via Tesla

After much speculation, Elon Musk finally revealed the new Tesla electric car, the SD model, which promises to bring as close to a driverless car as possible.

As arguably the Apple of the car industry, Tesla showcased at an event last night what is essentially the improved version of its S model that will come in three different types: the 60D, the 85D and the P85D.

What has people excited however was the announcement of its new ‘autopilot’ system that will allow the driver to come as close to being just another passenger as possible with automatic lane changing, braking and 360 degree sonar around the car.

The car will also be able to read road signs through its camera array and lower speed accordingly and when pulling into the driveway will allow the driver to get out and, if they’re trustworthy of the initial models, allow it to park itself in their garage.

The sensors also allow the driver to put on their indicator and the car will automaticallly judge whether it is safe to move into the other lane and continue driving.

The origin of the D for this model refers to the introduction of dual motors into its car design which has, at least for car enthusiasts, been something they considered the Tesla cars to be seriously lacking.

A boost in speed, and indeed price

What this means for drivers is not just a speed boost, but what is arguably more important for an electric car, is an increase in its range, albeit a slight one.

For example, the S P85, the current flagship Tesla car, has a top speed of 209km/h and a range of 426km on a single charge.

With the dual engine model due early next year, this increases to a top speed of 249km/h and a range of 442km on a single charge at a legal driving speed.

All of these new improvements are still not going to be cheap however, even if Tesla offers free charging points to its customers.

As optional extras, the inclusion of autopilot and dual motor drive costs a total of US$18,850 (€14,878).

In true Musk fashion, while speaking of the new improved models at the launch last night, the philanthropist said: “This car is nuts. It’s like taking off from a carrier deck. It’s bananas. It’s like having your own personal roller coaster that you can use at any time.”

Of course, Irish electric car enthusiasts remain in the dark as to whether we will see the cars arrive on our shores but in the meantime, we can only look on from afar.

Guests attending the event were able to rise as pasengers in the P85D.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic