Tesla Motors announced yesterday that it will build an all-wheel drive version of the Model S electric car. The automaker is also rolling out an Autopilot system that gives the Model S new driver assistance features.
All-wheel drive is available on all three trim levels of the Model S, including the 60, 85 and performance-oriented P85. According to Tesla's website, the “Dual Motor All Wheel Drive system,” which bears a "D" designation, adds $4,000 to the price of a rear-wheel drive Model S 60 or Model S 85. These models will be available starting in February. An all-wheel drive Model S 60D starts at $91,070, and the most-powerful trim, the all-wheel drive P85D, starts at $120,170 and goes on sale this December. All models are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Model S P85D’s two electric motors generate 691 horsepower, and Tesla says that it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
According to USA Today, "The addition of all-wheel drive will allow Tesla to compete more vigorously in the snowy East and Midwest, broadening its buyer base beyond the Sunbelt."
Tesla has also started rolling out new driver assistance features on the Model S with the Autopilot system, which uses cameras and ultrasonic sensors. CNET writes, “During a short test drive at the event, Tesla demonstrated how the Model S' front camera could recognize speed limit signs, and set its speed accordingly. In addition, the car self-steered, following curving lane lines, then braked for stopped traffic ahead. These capabilities show very advanced forms of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.”
CNET also reports that owners with this feature "will be able to summon their cars, or set a calendar so the cars will meet them at a prearranged spot," when located on private property.
The Autopilot technology may also help the Model S avoid an accident. The Wall Street Journal says that if an accident is likely to occur, there will be "visual and sound warnings of an impending crash, and the car’s computers will attempt to take evasive action." However, the publication adds, "Drivers will still be able to overcome the automated maneuvers." The radar and sonar systems will work in extreme weather, and Autopilot is able to detect kids or animals in the vehicle's path, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to Tesla's website, the Autopilot system, which is part of the Tech Package, adds $4,250 to the price of a base Model S.