Tesla Unveils the ‘D’ Line of Cars with 2 Motors, All-Wheel-Drive and ‘Autopilot’ [Video]

Tesla Motors intoduced an all-wheel-drive version of the electric Model S sedan Thursday dubbed the ‘D.’

At a media event in Los Angeles on Thursday night, electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors unveiled an upgraded version of its Model S with all-wheel drive and rapid acceleration rivaling that of luxury vehicles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally introduced the new “D” line of Tesla vehicles, explaining that “D” stands for “dual motor”, meaning Tesla’s all-wheel drive vehicle will have a motor at either end of the chassis to increase control.

Moreover, he said the Model S contains the hardware for an “autopilot” feature. The car can park itself in a garage, turn on the air conditioning in advance of a trip and recognize obstacles on the road. He cautioned, however, that “autopilot” was not fully autonomous driving and would not allow a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.

The advanced version, boasting a top speed of 155 mph, also features a long-range radar, image recognition so the vehicle can sense things such as stop signs and pedestrians, and a 360-degree ultrasonic sonar.

Musk said in an interview with USA Today that one of his favorite cars was the super-fast McLaren F1, a high-dollar, low-volume production car with racing attributes. Musk thinks the quickest Tesla will match the McLaren’s 3.2-second sprint to 60 mph from standstill.

This car is nuts. It’s like taking off from a carrier deck,” Musk told a crowd of several hundred Tesla fans gathered at a municipal airport near Los Angeles.

The American carmaker will release three versions of the upgraded car under the “D” designation. The all-wheel drive version without the acceleration boost will be a $4,000 add-on to the basic and mid-level models of the Model S, which starts at $71,000.

The base price for the all-wheel drive car with boosted acceleration, dubbed the P85D and already expected in December, is $120,000. The other two Teslas, the 60D and the 85D, will likely land in February 2015.

The company’s CEO teased car enthusiasts last week tweeting, “About time to unveil the D and something else.” The message was accompanied with a photo showing a Tesla vehicle peeking behind a garage door with a letter “D” on it.

Fans speculated the electric car giant was about to launch a self-driving Tesla vehicle. Musk himself had previously said the company is actively working on “self-driving” capabilities. In an interview with CNN, Musk said the next Tesla car, set to launch in 2015, “will probably be 90 per cent capable of autopilot”.

According to one industry analyst, the new features would give Tesla momentum while consumers waited for the launch next year of its third vehicle, the crossover SUV Model X.

“Until the Model X arrives, a vehicle that will substantially amplify Tesla’s appeal and volume potential, these upgrades should keep the Model S at the forefront of advanced personal transportation,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

He added: “If Tesla wants to be seen a true competitor to brands like Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, it needs to offer all-wheel drive.”

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