PayPal co-founder, space conqueror, alternative fuel proponent and all-round visionary, Elon Musk is one of the most remarkable men shaping our generation.
But more than just being a ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’, what sets Elon Musk apart is his ability to dream grandiose, radical visions that are somehow accessible to the common folk, and which actually enrich the quality of life on earth.
For us though, we aren’t as concerned with Mr. Musk’s colonization of Mars, as with the new Tesla Model D. You might remember the cryptic tweet he sent out a few weeks ago, teasing this new iteration of the already-stellar Model S electric car. Well, it is here. And it packs a wallop.
Here’s the gist: the Model D has two motors in place of one, it now has all wheel drive, and it can reportedly travel 275 miles (443 kms) between charges.
But it is when you dig deeper than one begins to truly understand the paradigm shift that the Tesla Model D heralds.
This fully electric car will go from 0-92kmph in a mere 3.2 seconds. That’s exactly as fast as the Mclaren F1, once the world’s fastest supercar for two straight decades, and Elon Musk’s favourite supercar. Top speed has been bumped up from 130 mph (210 kmph) in the Model S to 155 mph (250 kmph).
The interiors and exteriors remain the same. But it is not the powertrain that’s the only radical thing here. Thanks to an advanced on-board camera and computer, this is the closest we can get to Autopilot while staying firmly on land, and within the limits of current government regulations. The Model D is able to read, and obey, speed limits and even change lanes for you. Now, technologies like these are commonplace in high-end cars already – the peerless Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes to mind – but what differentiates the Tesla Model D is the way it goes about it. Mimicking the human brain, it is actually able to interpret road signals, translate them into bits and bytes, and then act on the car, all on its own.
Lane departure warning system isn’t a new feature either. But, using twelve sensors mounted around the car, the Tesla Model D actually monitors your surrounding traffic and even blind spots, and then change lanes for you if it deems safe.
Have you seen Mission: Impossible 2? Remember the scene where Tom Cruise summons his Porsche 911 beside him with just a click of his key? The Model D will do that, almost. It can park itself autonomously and sidle up slowly beside you when you’re ready to leave. The aircon will already have been set to your preference and the radio will have tuned itself to your favourite station.
The three variants of the Tesla Model S on sale currently will each get a Model D. Prices for the Model D range from $71,070 for the 60 kWh model, all the way to $120,170 for the top-of-the-line P85D. Deliveries of the less powerful D models will start in February while the P85D should hit the road in December this year.
We can’t believe we’re saying this but trust us, for a glimpse into the future of transportation, look not at Google’s [X] Labs or Mercedes-Benz or Volvo, but at the man who’s the inspiration for the movie version of Tony Stark/Iron Man.
This is a live event. Stay tuned as we update this story with new details as they come in.