Tesla today opened a new store and service outlet in Crawley, a stone’s throw from Gatwick airport, and announced the introduction of a new dual-motor ‘D’ model for its Model S electric saloon car.
The new store is the third sales outlet in the UK, and the second service centre, with plans to open similar facilities in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newcastle and additional facilities in the London area.
Capitalising on the new store’s location next to Gatwick, a shuttle service to the airport will be provided. Combined with a free parking and courtesy inspection service, Tesla customers flying from Gatwick will be able to leave their cars at the new store, be ferried to the airport, and return to find their cars cleaned, charged, and fully checked over.
A bank of recharging stations – dubbed ‘superchargers’ – will be added to the facility shortly that allow Tesla customers to recharge their vehicles completely free of charge.
Tesla also announced the introduction of a new ‘D’ model for its Model S range, and in this case ‘D’ stands for dual-motor.
In the 60 and 85 kWh models, the single rear-mounted electric motor is replaced by two smaller motors – one on each axle – each with an output equivalent to 188hp, giving a total system output of 376hp.
Beyond giving the Model S all-wheel-drive capability, Tesla say the dual-motor set-up is not only faster but also more efficient. Both 60 and 85 kWh models now accelerate from 0-60mph 0.2 of a second faster (5.7 and 5.2 seconds for the 60D and 85D respectively) yet achieve a range extended by 10 miles over the previous model.
The performance flagship, the P85D, retains the existing larger rear motor but combines it with a smaller front-mounted motor to give a total output of 691hp, and this is enough to propel the P85D from 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds – to put that in perspective, that’s similar performance to a McLaren 12C.
Again, Tesla claims the P85D’s range has been extended by 10 miles, while its top speed has been increased to an electronically-limited 155mph.
The 60D and 85D will be available for an additional £3,400, while the P85D adds £12,300 to the cost of a Model S.
Customers who have already placed an order for a P85 and are waiting delivery will be offered the opportunity to upgrade to the new P85D.
Production starts in the US in December, with right-hand-drive production expected in the spring of 2015.
Tesla also announced a series of new ‘auto-pilot’ functions that will be coming on stream via a series of software updates.
All Model S cars built within the last two weeks have been fitted with an additional array of sensors, including forward-looking cameras and radar sensors, plus twelve ultrasonic sensors around the vehicle that operate at all vehicle speeds.
Combined with the car’s GPS functions, these sensors allow the car to detect road markings, read and interpret road signs, accurately asses its position on the road and monitor the position of other vehicles and obstacles around it.
As part of an over-the-air software update, the cars will soon receive a series of new functions that will include a speed limit warning and cruise control feature, plus a lane departure warning with steering wheel feedback. The system is capable of changing lanes automatically with the driver issuing commands by indicating, while an autonomous braking system allows the car to apply the brakes automatically if it detects an obstacle in its path.
Although European representatives were at pains to point out these features do not constitute an autonomous driving ability, Tesla has expressed interest in providing a series of self-parking functions that could see the car park itself in a private garage without the driver being present.
Tesla also confirmed that the Model S will be joined by a Model X SUV, production of which is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2015, while a Model 3 with a $30,000 price target is currently slated for 2017.
The company is also building a huge ‘Gigafactory’ in Nevada, where it intends to house a battery production plant for its vehicles.