Range, Performance Increases Put into Production
Elon Musk has made remarks about Tesla becoming a “real car company,” and the evidence of that is mounting. While Tesla is solidly ensconced as the leader in the electric vehicle world, its luxury flagships—Model S and X—are getting a little long in the tooth and took sales hits the past two quarters. In response, Tesla has done what any other car company would do—offer new features to entice buyers back into the market.
This past week Tesla abruptly announced that ongoing production of Model S and Model X would feature what the company termed an “all-new drivetrain design.” The exterior and interior of the cars, introduced in 2012 and 2015, respectively, as well as their 100 kilowatt-hour battery packs, remain the same. The new “drive unit technology” combines an optimized permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motor, silicon carbide power electronics and improved lubrication, cooling, bearings and gear designs.
The result is a 10 percent improvement in range. The base Model S will now travel 370 miles on a full charge and the Model X will go 325 miles (based on the EPA test cycle). Tesla also claims power and torque will increase. As part of the upgrade, the new models will also be able to charge at a 200 kilowatts (kW) on the company’s new V3 Superchargers and 145 kW on its V2 Superchargers, a 50 percent faster rate.
Another under-the-skin upgrade for the car’s air suspension is fully-adaptive damping, designed to give the new models an “ultra-cushioned feel” on the highway as well as enhanced handling. It features Tesla-developed software that uses a predictive model to tune the suspension to the road and driver inputs.
In a move to entice repeat customers, Tesla is offering its Ludicrous Mode update for all purchasers of Performance versions of the new Model S and X for free (the equivalent of a $20,000 discount for the top-of-the-line model). On the other end, it’s reintroducing a lower-priced, shorter range version of both models.
It remains to be seen if these new marketing moves will either bring back former Tesla customers or bring in new buyers. Rumors that more visible changes to the two models are coming are all over the various Tesla news sites. That, and the just-beginning drumbeat of competitive entries into the luxury EV market, signal a whole new era for this upstart company.