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Despite ‘D’ Disappointment, Tesla Still Matters

The long, speculation-drenched week that followed Elon Musk’s “unveil the D” tweet is finally over. Tesla Motors Thursday night (Oct. 9) announced an all-wheel-drive (awd) Model S with semi-autopilot features.

The “D” stands for dual motor, while those who guessed it was “D” for “driverless” were just a little off the mark. With the D series, Tesla is offering, in essence, its own version of ADAS (advanced driving assistance system). Indeed, some featured in the D line are more like ADAS on steroids.

After the announcement, some in the investment community were quick to judge, calling D a disappointment.

The supposed letdown is that Tesla’s Model S P85D only offers “the predicted level of performance, and little more.” Further, the continuing slippage in Model X deliveries is a big concern. Model X, unveiled in 2012, won’t get to reserved buyers until summer 2015.  Model X, about which Musk bragged to Tesla shareholders in July, calling it “amazing car that will just blow people away,” is an all-electric vehicle, supposedly more stylish than a minivan, offering more performance than an SUV.

Elon Musk shows off a dual-motor all-wheel-drive

Elon Musk shows off a dual-motor all-wheel-drive

But of course, the last night’s event wasn’t about Model X. So, first, let’s consider the D.  

The dual-motor Model S comes with a second electric motor mounted above the forward axle to power the front wheels. It teams with the electric motor that sits over the rear axle in all current Tesla’s EVs.

The dual motors provide quicker acceleration, better grip, and longer range, according to Musk.  The second does adds weight, but Tesla claims that it automatically adjusts its use of the two motors to maximize efficiency.

The second motor is tuned in the P85D for faster acceleration, says Tesla, so that the car races from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, compared with 4.2 second for the current P85. Tesla offered a test drive at the media event last night, which prompted one giddy reporter to gush that it “feels like being in a rocket ship.”

The second motor is said to be tuned toward greater efficiency in the lower-trim models. Tesla says the 60D will get 225 miles on a charge, compared with 215 miles for the base model. The 85D will also get an extra 10 miles, maxing up to 295 miles. Not a huge difference, but nonetheless an improvement.

As for the ADAS features, Tesla is clearly playing catch-up with competitors. Features like lane-departure warnings are commonplace. But beyond this, Tesla offers a few gimmicks that other premium rivals — Mercedes-Benz and BMW — haven’t yet introduced.

The new Model S, for example, changes lanes automatically when the driver flips the turn signal. It doesn’t require drivers to keep hands on the wheel (although drivers are legally required to pay attention all the time).

The car will read speed-limit signs and adjust to match the posted speed.

And it does park itself, but not in public lots — only on private driveways. Musk said that drivers can get out of the car in their driveway and watch it nose right into the garage — assuming that the garage isn’t already full of other stuff.

It gets even better.

The car can also drive itself to the driver, just like a Batmobile, when it’s time to leave. It will adjust its temperature and the stereo system to the driver’s preference.

The new Model S will come with forward-mounted radar, cameras, and a lot of sensors. Tesla’s production line started equipping the Model S with these devices since last month, according to Tesla. However, they can't be retrofitted to older models.

During the media event, Musk said, “Once we upload the software over the next two or three months, the Model S will have the most sophisticated driver assistance or autonomous functions of any [production] car on the road.”

Musk added, “We're going to push the limit of what's safe with this level of hardware and what's allowed by regulations.”

Tesla introduces autopilot and dual motor all wheel drive Model S

Tesla introduces autopilot and dual motor all wheel drive Model S

Considering the glitzy media blitz that has become a Tesla staple, it’s tempting to be an Elon Musk skeptic, especially in light of past Detroit-based dog-and-pony shows.

Is a dual-motor all-wheel drive car really big news? Other makers already have them. Are ADAS features new? Many of the features are becoming downright ordinary.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EETimes.

19 comments on “Despite ‘D’ Disappointment, Tesla Still Matters

  1. Susan Fourtané
    October 12, 2014

    “After the announcement, some in the investment community were quick to judge, calling D a disappointment.”

    Maybe the investment community should be less quick to judge. Another think I would like  the investment community to answer is what do they really want?

    People seem to have enter an era of constantly beling unhappy with anything that comes out in technology, no matter what it is. People will go on to quickly judge. I find this annoying. They only kill creativity and motivation of the ones who are actually doing the work. 

    -Susan

  2. Susan Fourtané
    October 12, 2014

    It's nice to see more car makers adding more technology and autonomous features to the cars. Autopilot, autodrive, auto-parking, radar, sensors, cameras, and more already exist in Volvo cars. 

    -Susan

  3. Ariella
    October 13, 2014

    @Susan though I'm not really into bells and whistles, I welcome the features that make driving safer. 

  4. _hm
    October 13, 2014

    @susan: With so many novel featuers, do we need to pass new test and get license for this vehicle?

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 13, 2014

    My car is old and basic–but i do welcome safety features. Even ease of use features. My big concern is the law of unintended consequences. How things should work and how they actually do work can be two different things.

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 13, 2014

    @HM, with ease of use being being top of mind these days, we may not need more training. Maybe we'll have automated cars that just take us to where we need to go. that's probably a ways off though. 🙂

  7. Ariella
    October 13, 2014

    ” How things should work and how they actually do work can be two different things.” Too true, @Hailey!

  8. Susan Fourtané
    October 14, 2014

    Ariella, 

    All the features I mentioned contribute to safety. Autonomous cars are safer than man-driven cars. 

    -Susan

  9. Susan Fourtané
    October 14, 2014

    _hm, 

    “With so many novel featuers, do we need to pass new test and get license for this vehicle?”

    I haven't looked into this, but most likely things will be different in terms of tests and licenses for completely autonomous cars owners.

    The Tesla car is not completely autonomous, so still the driver needs to have the knowledge of driving the vehicle, etc. 

    -Susan

  10. Susan Fourtané
    October 14, 2014

    Hailey, 

    “Maybe we'll have automated cars that just take us to where we need to go. that's probably a ways off though. :)”

    Autonomous cars are being tested in Sweden as I write this. The pilot is being conducted in normal driving conditions in roads normally used for communiting. Volvo will have 100 autonomous cars rolling in the streets in Göteborg by 2017. 🙂

    They can take you to wherever you want while you do other things with your time. You can later on call your car and it comes to pick you up. The car parks itself and drives itself without even you being in the car. The Volvo project is supported by the Swedish government, which makes a difference with the other projects which are not supported.  

    -Susan

  11. t.alex
    October 14, 2014

    Consumer probably were excited to see some completely new model not just an updrage from model S. But think again, all the electrical cars out there such as Nissan leaf would you ever imagine there is some electrical car that can actually have an outstanding performance as good as Ferrari? Tesla proves the point. Electrical car isn't ugly, it's nice and sleek. Electrical car isn't slow, it's as fast as Ferrari. Think about it again. Its awesome

  12. _hm
    October 14, 2014

    @Susan: Best part may be insurance for driver will be nil. Or may be car manufacturere carry the liability and it is included in the price.

     

  13. _hm
    October 14, 2014

    @Susan: Fun part will be also lost, I can not park at any place illegaly, even if I am ready to pay fine. I always needs to walk from farther distance.

  14. Susan Fourtané
    October 19, 2014

    _hm, 

    I don't think car manufacturers should carry any responsibility as in the case of any machine it's still responsibility of the one operating it. Autonomous cars still need someone to push the buttons. 

    -Susan

  15. Susan Fourtané
    October 19, 2014

    _hm, 

    I don't understand what fun part is lost. Why do you want to park in an illegal space? 

    -Susan

  16. _hm
    October 19, 2014

    @Susan: I do not world of utopia, but in my city police gives nearly 2,500,000 illegal parking ticket every year. And most people are regular offenders.

     

     

  17. _hm
    October 19, 2014

    @Susan: To my best knowledge, Judge may not agree with you.

     

  18. Susan Fourtané
    October 20, 2014

    _hm, 

    ” … in my city police gives nearly 2,500,000 illegal parking ticket every year. And most people are regular offenders.”

    It seems like I find that a little difficult to understand. 🙁 I have some questions for you: What city are we talking about? Why so many people park in illegal parking spaces? Why people keep on doing the same again and again? 

    -Susan

  19. Susan Fourtané
    October 20, 2014

    _hm, 

    A judge would not agree with me about what? :/ 

    Let's not forget that autonomous cars will help reduce road accidents, which are mainly caused by human error. When you don't have human error there won't be accidents. I have shared information about this somewhere here some time ago. Did you see it?

    -Susan

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