Tesla Model S


Debut: 2012
Maker: Tesla
Predecessor: No



 Published on 26 Oct 2012 All rights reserved. 

Tesla's new EV wants to compete with conventional cars directly – and beat them.


You can't help admiring what Tesla has achieved so far. This silicon valley-based electric car maker has never really turned a profit since its formation in 2003, yet it keeps attracting investment, gaining size and fame and even getting floated on the stock market. Such achievements are not credited to the first car it built, the Roadster, but to the expectation for its second car, Model S. The Model S is a much more ambitious project. While the Roadster was more an experiment to demonstrate the feasibility of EVs in real-world usage, the Model S wants to compete with conventional cars directly – and beat them. Tesla plans to build 20,000 units of this car annually at the ex-NUMMI plant it acquired cheaply from Toyota. Its prices range from US$60,000 to the north of $100,000, so it will compete with the high-end BMW 5-Series / Audi A6 / Mercedes E-class / Jaguar XF as well as performance sedans like M5, S6 / RS6, E63, Panamera and Quattroporte. Is it that good? We shall see…

From outside, you can hardly guess it is an electric car. Sure, the slippery shape is quite sporty and stylish, but you can say the same things to an Audi A7 or Mazda 6. There is a pseudo front grille whose existence is just to satisfy conservative buyers who are not accustomed to EVs. Ridiculous! Without an engine occupying the front, the latter could have been made much shorter and lower than that of conventional cars, but once again Tesla opted for a conventional shape. These are evidences that the company wants to play safe with its most important product because it cannot afford any failures. However, it also means a lot of opportunities have been lost. Perhaps the next product from Tesla could be shaped more adventurous.


It is a beautiful car, but the styling could be more adventurous given the packaging advantages of EV.


On the plus side, I am glad that the Tesla sedan does not look like Fisker Karma. A Coke-bottle shape body may be attractive to eyes but it does not benefit cabin space. In contrast, the body shell of Model S encloses a spacious interior for 5 large guys and a pair of luggage compartments (one at the front and another at the tail) with a combined capacity of 895 liters! A large tailgate eases your access to the huge trunk. Moreover, if you have too many children, you can fit the smallest 2 to a pair of rear-facing child seats flipped from the trunk floor. In this way the car offers an unrivalled 5+2 seating! What else can you ask for?

Considering it packs so much space inside, the exterior styling is all the more admirable. It uses curves and sharp edges cleverly to deliver a visual appearance lighter and slimmer than it is. The turbine wheels are stylish, too. Who is responsible for this design? Franz von Holzhausen, the guy famed for Mazda Kabura concept car that won our AutoZine Concept Car award in 2006, also the designer of Pontiac Solstice. Perhaps not happy with the corporate bureaucracy that put his fine works on shelf or kill them off early, he joined Tesla as its design chief in 2008.

Benefited by the sealed front grille, the car achieves a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.24. That also matches the production car record currently held by Mercedes E-class Coupe.


2 trunks, 7+2 seating and a drag coefficient of 0.24, all sound incredible by conventional wisdom.


This car is about as large as Fisker Karma. It measures 5 meters long, 2 meters wide and runs a wheelbase close to 3 meters, slightly larger than a Porsche Panamera. Although the monocoque body is primarily made of aluminum with boron steel reinforcement, its sheer size and the weight of batteries result in a kerb weight of 2100 kg. Nevertheless, like other electric cars, it is able to place the weight at optimum position, i.e. the floorpan. A 100mm-thick floorpan contains lithium-ion batteries of up to 85kWh capacity. This ensures a center of gravity as low as sports cars. Moreover, the rigidly constructed floorpan is a stress member contributing to chassis rigidity. It saves the need for a strong backbone, thus enables a flat cabin floor to benefit the middle rear passenger. The 3-phase AC induction motor and single-speed step-down transmission are located right between the rear wheels and drive the latter. Regular models get 362 horsepower and 325 pound-foot of torque, while Performance model uses a more powerful motor to deliver 416 hp and 443 lbft, good enough to register 0-60 mph in a remarkable 4.4 seconds. Top speed, however, is limited to 130 mph to conserve battery.

Both the double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspensions are fashioned in aluminum and served with height adjustable adaptive air springs like many luxury limousines. The steering is electrically assisted, of course.

Depending on your investment you can choose different battery capacities: $60,000 gets you a 40kWh pack good for 140 miles range according to EPA test cycles. $70,000 gets 60kWh and 200 miles, while $80,000 gets 85kWh and 265 miles. With the latter, the Model S is the first production EV that we don't need to worry running out of battery during the trip, even though the EPA figures could be a little optimistic.


Build quality is not perfect, but the 17-inch touchscreen is simply jaw-dropping.


As expected for a start-up manufacturer, the build quality is not perfect. You can pick a few misaligned panels or bad sealing here and there, but overall the build quality is much better than Fisker. As the ex-NUMMI plant is ramping up production, build quality is expected to improve further. However, the interior does show signs of cheapness in the materials used. You can spot the column stalks and some switches from Mercedes' parts pool (note: Daimler holds a minority stake in Tesla), whose quality are not bad but they look at odds to the space age design. The steering wheel, the seats and leather trim also look cheaper than the cars of this class deserve.

To reduce the use of purchased or costly bespoke switch gears, Tesla puts nearly all the cabin and driving functions to a couple of LCD screens. One is the digital instrument panel, another is a huge, 17-inch touchscreen occupying the whole center console. This is the largest display ever been used on production cars. It runs Android operating system (as Google's founders invested in Tesla since 2006) and provides all the functions you can dream of, from air-con, audio, satellite navigation, seat adjustment, suspension setting to web surfing. The large screen provides unparalleled clarity, though its fitment into the console is not so elegant.


The powertrain and chassis dynamics are so well engineered that it does not sound like the work of a new company.


How does it drive on road? Surprisingly good. Although its power-to-weight ratio is not very high, the Performance model does provide ample torque right from nearly zero rpm. Coupling to the lack of gearchange, the stream of acceleration is uninterrupted. No wonder Motor Trend magazine managed to time 0-60 mph in only 3.9 seconds. This places it very close to the super sedans like M5 and E63. It struggles to match those rivals beyond 100 mph, and would surrender at 130 mph, but you have to remember this car is not supposed to be a sport sedan from the outset. Its near silent powertrain promotes a completely different driving character that president Barek Obama might call it "smart performance". The only thing to remind you about the speed is the wind noise and tire roar, which could be annoying in the absence of beautiful exhaust note.

Despite of the immense weight, the low center of gravity gives the Model S an agile feel. It rolls more than a proper sports sedan in corner, but it feels light and eager to steer – the latter must be attributed to its 48:52 weight distribution and low polar moment of inertia (all the powertrain and batteries are located within the wheelbase). The Michelin Pilot Sport tires offer good grip. The ride quality is excellent. The braking is strong. Only the steering cries for more feedback. Overall, the powertrain and chassis dynamics are so well engineered that it does not sound like the work of a new company. This is a far better effort than the Fisker Karma. It deserves a sales success, although its high cost could raise some questions. I sincerely hope Tesla could overcome the hurdles of build quality, credibility and cost control, i.e. factors that dragged down many new automotive ventures. If it cannot succeed, it would be a blow to innovation in the automotive industry.
Verdict:
 Published on 28 Jan 2015
All rights reserved. 
Model S P85D - 4WD and even faster!

Tesla said it sprints from rest to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, matching the mighty McLaren F1...


Rising from a Silicon Valley startup to a model for Detroit and the world to learn from, Tesla is the greatest miracle we have seen for years. It also brings many surprises to the increasingly predictable automotive world. The latest surprise is the dual-motor, 4-wheel-drive version of Model S called P85D – where D stands for Dual-motor, P for Performance and 85 denotes its battery capacity in kWh. Tesla said it sprints from rest to 60 mph in an incredible 3.2 seconds, matching the mighty McLaren F1 and beating all performance sedans currently available – Mercedes E63 AMG S 4matic, Audi RS6/RS7 and Porsche Panamera Turbo S included. And this is no wild claim because Motor Trend has already timed the car to do so in 3.1 seconds. How can it do that?

The dual-motor 4WD layout was originally developed for Model X, Tesla’s new SUV. Since the launch of that car has been delayed, Tesla introduces it to the Model S first. An additional electric motor is added to the front axle to drive the front wheels. It produces up to 221 horsepower and 244 pound-foot of torque. The rear-axle motor is unchanged, but it has been re-rated to 470 hp recently (note that it now represents the capability of the motor instead of whole system whose bottleneck is at the battery and inverter). The combined maximum output is therefore an astonishing 691 hp and 687 lbft. Looking around the 4-door world, only the 707 hp Dodge Charger Hellcat is more powerful, but the P85D has more torque and that peak torque is instantly available once you floor down the throttle. Coupling to the 4-wheel-drive traction, no wonder it could be so quick to 60 mph.


Despite the supercar performance, the P85D is not exactly a performance sedan in the same breath as AMG, M or RS...


On the road, the P85D feels really sensational. Accelerating up to 70 or 80 mph, the sense of g-force is just as breathtaking as a Bugatti Veyron SS, thanks to the constant pour of tremendous torque. There is no gearshift to interrupt the acceleration. With excellent traction it wastes no time in wheel spin either, so it translates the force into motion instantly, pressing your head hard onto the headrest until three-figure speed or you back off. Admittedly, at higher speeds the power fades out more quickly than conventional engines. Up to 100 mph it might still edge out the aforementioned German performance sedans. From there to its 155 mph top speed – which is lifted from 130 mph of the rear-drive car – it loses ground. On Autobahn that will be a problem, but elsewhere people will prefer its superior acceleration at lower, more accessible speed range.

However, despite of the supercar performance, the P85D is not exactly a performance sedan in the same breath as AMG, M or RS. Save the dual-motor powertrain it is no different to the regular Model S, with the same suspension, tires and brakes. Take it to a road course and you will find it corners and stops less swiftly. The car is very heavy at 2.2 tons, but it is well balanced and agile. Its front-to-rear weight distribution is worsened from 47:53 to a still pretty good 51:49, and the center of gravity remains lower than conventional cars. It just lacks the sporty suspension tuning, performance tires and brakes to be a true sports sedan. If Tesla develops in that direction, the German has to be worried.
Verdict:
 Published on 9 Oct 2015
All rights reserved. 
Model S P90D Ludicrous

Performance upgrade could not come easier than this: a new fuse!


In the new world order of electric cars, performance can be extracted in a ridiculously effortless way. Take Tesla P85D for example, when you engage its “Insane” mode, it is good for 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds or faster than a McLaren F1, but nothing could be more effortless in the way it accelerates – no exhaust note, no tire squeal, no smoke and no transmission clunks. One step of the pedal is followed immediately by a quiet whine and linear stream of g-force. 3 ticks later, you have passed the acceleration benchmark. So easy!

The new P90D with “Ludicrous” mode option is practically the same, just gifted with even more spectacular performance. This time it is capable to do 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, or the level of LaFerrari. However, what impresses me is how effortless Tesla has the car developed. Based on P85D, it needs only an upgraded battery (90kWh instead of 85kWh), a new fuse and revised software to boost its maximum output from 691 to 762 hp and extend its driving range by 6 percent. Can’t you believe? If it was a conventional car, it would have needed a bigger engine and beefed up transmission at least, while a larger fuel tank would have required some modifications to the chassis.

Moreover, existing owners of P85D can have their cars upgraded to the aforementioned spec. if they pay US$3,000 for the battery swap and another US$10,000 for the Ludicrous mode software and new fuse. Well, actually it is not a fuse but an electronic overcurrent protective device with heavy-duty contactors. It is capable to withstand 1500A of battery current, compared to 1200A of the outgoing fuse. This explains why the unchanged electric motors can generate higher output. The battery and fuse swap can be done in Tesla’s service centers. Performance upgrade has never been so easy! And most important, profit has never been so easy to earn! Don't forget Silicon Valley guys invented the New Economy.
Verdict:
 Published on 25 Jan 2017
All rights reserved. 
Model S P100D


New battery gives more range and even faster acceleration.


Since its birth 4 years ago, Tesla Model S has been surprising the world. Not only it proves that EVs could be workable on daily basis yet desirable to own, in the past couple of years it also surprised us by adding supercar performance to the equation. The first dual-motor P85D matched McLaren F1 with a 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds, then it was superseded by P90D, which raised the bar to a LaFerrari-matching 2.8 seconds. Just when we thought that is already too quick for an executive sedan, Elon Musk stretched the envelop further to 2.4 seconds with the latest P100D. That's 1.1 second quicker than the next fastest large luxury car, Porsche Panamera Turbo, and 9/10ths quicker than the latest Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4matic, which is currently the fastest 4-door with internal combustion engine. It even beats Bugatti Veyron SS, Koenigegg One:1, Porsche 918 Spyder or just any cars in our ultimate supercars rating page! If we judge by 0-60 time alone, P100D will be regarded as the world's fastest road car!

So what modifications has Tesla done to the P100D? A couple of larger turbos, big intercoolers, titanium con-rods, lightweight pistons, forged steel crankshaft, a variable exhaust system... all those mods commonly found on conventional cars could be shelved. Because this is an EV, all you need is only a new 100kWh battery and a new mode called Ludicrous Plus. In the previous P90D, the motors were already good for 762 horsepower, but they never got more than 532 hp of continuous supply from the battery. Now the larger battery has its bottleneck widened to 612 hp, and that explains the extra performance. An AMG E63 S has just the same amount of peak horsepower, but it couldn't quite match the EV's 713 lbft of torque, and most important, that torque is available right from start up. P90D shared the same peak torque figure, but the larger capacity battery of P100D could sustain the peak torque to higher rpm. The result is an acceleration so strong that you might feel sick after a number of sprints. At higher speeds, the g-force fades away quicker than the case of conventional performance cars, but still we expect it could reach 100 mph in less than 6.5 seconds. AMG E63 S and Panamera Turbo might need 124 mph to see the Tesla stops widening the gap, by then it is already leading by many car lengths. In most real-world situations, this is the world's fastest accelerating sedan.

Nevertheless, it is not the fastest to corner or to lap a circuit, nor it is the most exciting in doing so. Bear in mind that the Model S is not designed as a sports sedan from ground up – its tires are not especially wide or sticky, and the chassis depends on its inherent balance and low center of gravity rather than beefed up suspensions, steering or braking to enhance performance. In fact, apart from the battery and new software, the P100D is just the same as P90D. From this perspective, its headline performance is one-dimensional. Good for promotion and to attract admiration, but not necessarily useful in actual usage. Instead of performance, the true benefit of the battery upgrade is longer range. Its NEDC range is stretched from 316 to 381 miles (509 to 613 km), so you can expect a real-world range of at least 250 miles (400 km). There is no loss of luggage space as the battery is all contained under the floorpan. The only downside is price – its starting price of £130,000 is just as jaw-dropping as its performance. An E63 S 4matic costs £83,000 yet it is a much higher quality product and a true sports sedan.

As batteries are getting more energy dense, expect to see further upgrades like this in the future.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Model S P85
2012
Rear-mounted motor, RWD
Aluminum + steel monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4978 / 1963 / 1435 mm
2960 mm
3-phase AC induction motor
-
-
-
-
416 hp / 5000-8600 rpm
443 lbft / 0-5100 rpm
1-speed
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring
F: 245/35ZR21
R: 265/35ZR21
2107 kg
130 mph (limited)
4.4 (c) / 4.6* / 4.1** / 4.7***
12.1* / 10.9** / 11.7***
Model S P85D
2014
Rear-mounted motor, 4WD
Aluminum + steel monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4978 / 1963 / 1435 mm
2960 mm
2 x AC induction motor
-
-
-
-
504 hp (motor: 691 hp)
687 lbft
1-speed
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring
F: 245/35ZR21
R: 265/35ZR21
2239 kg
155 mph (limited)
3.2 (c) / 3.3** / 3.2****
8.7** / 8.6****
Model S P90D Ludicrous
2015
Rear-mounted motor, 4WD
Aluminum + steel monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4978 / 1963 / 1435 mm
2960 mm
2 x AC induction motor
-
-
-
-
532 hp (motor: 762 hp)
713 lbft
1-speed
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring
F: 245/35ZR21
R: 265/35ZR21
2196 kg
155 mph (limited)
2.8 (c) / 2.8*
7.1*




Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T, ***Autocar, ****MT





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Model S P100D
2016
Rear-mounted motor, 4WD
Aluminum + steel monocoque
Mainly aluminum
4978 / 1963 / 1435 mm
2960 mm
2 x AC induction motor
-
-
-
-
612 hp (motor: 762 hp)
713 lbft
1-speed
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring
F: 245/35ZR21
R: 265/35ZR21
2241 kg
155 mph (limited)
2.4 (c) / 2.3*
6.0*




















































Performance tested by: *MT





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P100D



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