Tesla Model S – why its diesel–powered rivals should be very afraid: motorists are moving away from diesel cars and opting for alternatively fuelled cars such as electric or hybrid, suggests new research
New car registrations in the UK achieved a 12-year high in January with 174,564 cars being registered – a 2.9 per cent increase on January 2016.
Figures collected by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders show that diesel car sales were down by 4.3 per cent in January.
The reason for the dip in interest for car buyers purchasing diesel cars could be due to the recent emissions scandals that have embroiled companies such as Volkswagen.
The government is now planning a diesel scrappage scheme to encourage motorists to ditch cars that are heavy polluters.
In total there were 78,778 diesel cars registered in January.
It is good news for electric car companies however as the alternatively fuelled vehicle segment grew 19.9 per cent to take a record 4.2 per cent market share.
Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular as car companies are looking to vehicles powered by alternative and sustainable fuel sources.
Figures show that 7,270 AFVs including hybrids, were sold in January.
The additional driving range is welcome, but the range-topping Model S’s increase in performance is overkill, even if it is very entertaining
What is it?
The Tesla Model S P100D gets its moniker thanks to the addition of a 100kWh battery. It’s a hardware upgrade for Elon Musk’s company, which can usually be relied upon for an almost constant supply of revisions and software upgrades over the air.
If the official figures for the Model S P100D are to be believed, a range of 381 miles is available from a fully charged battery. Even taking into account the kind nature of official NEDC tests, the real-world range of this electric vehicle should comfortably exceed 250 miles if you drive carefully.
The trouble is that being careful is trickier than you might think. As well as increasing the range, Tesla has increased the Model S’s performance to hypercar-hassling levels. A software update for cars with the Ludicrous Speed upgrade (standard on the P100D) now means you can access Ludicrous Plus mode.
This additional technology comes at a hefty price. Allied to a recent 5% price hike blamed on Brexit, the P100D costs £132,700 not including the Government green car subsidy. In other words, it costs nearly twice as much as the basic rear-wheel-drive Model S 60 model.
What’s it like?
We could start this section by talking about the increased range, but let’s face it:
face-bending acceleration is far more interesting.
Three power levels are available: Sport if you’re ferrying your in-laws around, Ludicrous if you want to scare your passengers, and Ludicrous Plus if you want to give someone a mild panic attack.
To engage Ludicrous Plus, you need to hold the icon for Ludicrous mode on the touchscreen for a few seconds before releasing it. You then get a Star Wars-style animation of what a warp drive might look like. Select the ‘Yes, bring it on’ icon (not the one marked ‘No, I want my Mommy’), and you can finally get full power.
At this point, it doesn’t really matter if you use launch control or just flatten the throttle pedal, because the way the Tesla gains speed is borderline scary. If you’re not careful, your head is thrown back against the seat’s head rest violently as your mind attempts to make sense of what’s happening.
After launching the Model X, Tesla introduced a new seat developed in-house featuring an ‘Ultra White synthetic leather’, which served as a vegan faux-leather option for Tesla buyers. It was only available for the Model X for a limited time, and earlier this year it made its way to the top of the line Model S P100D.
Now it is finally available for all models, and Tesla discontinued all but one option using its original seats.
The seats of the Model X were actually one of the main reasons why the volume production of the vehicle was delayed. CEO Elon Musk wanted to make it a “sculptural work of art” since they are front and center when the Falcon Wing doors are opened.
In what has become a habit for Tesla, the company has in-sourced the design and production of its seats – something fairly rare in the automotive industry, which has a tendency to outsource almost everything but the engines and assembly.
Musk said in a conference call ahead of the unveiling of the Model X in September 2015:
“We have substantially in-sourced the seats at this point. Tesla is producing its own seats.”
During Tesla’s 2015 shareholder meeting, two proposals were brought forward to offer vegan animal-free options for Tesla’s vehicles. Tesla’s board of directors recommended that shareholders vote against the proposals and they were struck down, but the company went ahead with vegan anyway.
Musk listened to a PETA representative during the meeting and said he would look into the alternatives she was proposing.
After that, Tesla quickly introduced the Ultra White synthetic leather option for the Model X, and now it’s finally available for all trims of the Model S.
Watch Model S and Powerwall owner Clint outline the benefits of combining the Tesla Powerwall with solar and integrated software aggregation for control, savings and a change towards a more sustainable future.
Tesla has launched a new version of its all-electric Model S saloon, which can now be specified with a 100kWh battery.
This – in high-performance P100D with Ludicrous mode guise – makes the Model S the third fastest accelerating production car ever; and the quickest that can be bought new.
Tesla cites Ferrari’s LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder as the models to top the Model S in the fastest accelerating production car stakes, but both hybrid hypercars were made in limited numbers and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Tesla can seat up to seven, has four doors, and produces zero-tailpipe emissions.
More usefully than being able to dominate the traffic light Grand Prix though is the 100kWh battery ability to let the Model S cover around 315 miles on the American EPA test cycle – thought to be reasonably accurate – and 380 miles on the less accurate European NEDC tests. Either way, the Model S will comfortably cover more than 300 miles and has the longest range of any production EV by some way.
The larger battery pack will also be made available on the Model X SUV and, in top of the range P100D with Ludicrous mode spec, will take 2.9 seconds to compete the 0-60mph sprint. Range is quoted at 289 miles (EPA) and customers who have ordered P90D Ludicrous models of either the Model S or Model X can upgrade to the 100 kWh pack at a reduced price if they haven’t received their car yet.
The extra to pay in the US is $10,000, or $20,000 for those who want to retro-fit the 100kWh battery on models already owned, since Tesla will have to recycle the existing 90kWh battery.
The cost of a new P100D in the UK is £114,200 – or £109,700 after the UK Government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) has been applied. This keeps the flagship model’s pricing roughly in line with those of US models. Those placing an order for their car now can expect to receive it around December.
Tesla has stated that it realises the new models are expensive but reminds potential customers that each vehicle sold helps pay for the development of the smaller Model 3. Company boss Elon Musk said at the launch of the new battery pack:
“These are very profound milestones and I think will help convince people around the world that electric is the future.”
Elon Musk inadvertently spawned a subculture that’s hacking the Model S into a 21st century tent.
As the sun set beyond the long-needle pines and emerald waters of Lake Tahoe, I looked across the campfire and laughed out loud. I was about to go “camping” in the back of a $145,000 electric car because, well, it’s become a thing.
Tesla “Camper Mode,” as it’s often called, may not be sanctioned by the company, but a community of drivers is devoted to the practice. There are forums and YouTube videos that praise the virtues of Tesla camping and explore the hacks you’ll need to make it work. There’s even a third-party Tesla car app, with a “Camp Mode” function that will optimize the car’s systems for a good night’s sleep. This is a quirky, little Tesla subculture, and of course I had to try it myself.
I know what you’re thinking (because it was my first thought, too): Why would someone who can afford a Tesla need to bed down inside one? The last time I slept in a car was on a college road trip from Iowa to Florida, and it was a night of eternal torment, with cramped seats, suffocating heat, and mosquitoes that swarmed when we cracked the windows. Who would choose that again?
But Tesla camping promised something different. The sapphire blue Model S I was driving for the week has a 90 kilowatt hour battery—the largest you can find in a car on the road today. In theory, it should be able to handle a night of climate control and HEPA-level air filtration without much limiting of the vehicle’s range. Also, electric cars are virtually silent and release no tailpipe emissions (they don’t have tailpipes) so they won’t suffocate the camper or disturb the local fauna. As for the Model S’s panoramic glass roof, well, no tent can compete with that.
So, in the week Tesla announced its fastest Model S ever, you’ve driven the slowest one. How come?
Because this Model S 60D was our first chance to sample the lightly facelifted Model S, which you’ll spot thanks to the deleted nosecone (there’s now just a Model X-style moustache) and all-LED adaptive headlights. Fortunately, there’s more to it than that.
Tesla badly needed an entry-level model. The Model 3 is coming, roared on by the 400,000 or so deposit-holders who’ve pre-ordered the new 3-Series-sized EV. But it won’t be ready until at least 2018, so the cheaper, less powerful 60kWh Model S has arrived to keep interest up and cash rolling in.
It’s actually a 75kWh in disguise, with the extra battery capacity available as a sort of optional tune-up extra after purchase if you’ve got the required £7,850.
Ouch. Besides that, how cheap are we talking? It’s still a big 5-Series sized luxury saloon, so I’m not expecting philanthropy.
The asking price for a 60kWh with rear-drive is £53,400, and does 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. This ‘D’ version with dual motors and all-wheel drive adds £4,400 and subtracts 0.3 seconds.
Yes, that’s a mountain of money. But Tesla has got stuck into the murky world of monthly payments in an effort to take more chunks out of the mainstream posh saloon market. The result is you can get a Model S on a PCP deal for £395 a month, if you avoid ticking options.
That’s competitive with the likes of a BMW 330d, and when you factor in far cheaper servicing and running costs, plus free Supercharging and zero road tax, the 60kWh Model S starts to look awfully tempting.
Enough accountancy. Why would I be seen in the slow Tesla?
Because it isn’t slow. In fact, it’s extremely quick. Up until now the only Model S versions I’d driven had been the fastest at the time; first a P85, then a P85D, and most recently a P90D with Ludicrous Mode, which is to-date the only car I’ve ceased accelerating in because it was making me feel genuinely nauseous. So I wasn’t expecting much from the P60D’s 324bhp. Not when it’s saddled with 2.1 tonnes to haul.
Fact is, even this baby Tesla is an obscenely fast car, purely because of the instantaneous nature of the performance. I know you must be bored of reading about electric motors hitting max power from the get-go by now, but honestly, the way this supposedly base-spec Tesla rockets from 0-30mph would destroy a red-blooded super-saloon like an M5. This makes it a terrific urban car, despite the usual Model S girth.
Electric cars are getting better all the time, making them a more realistic proposition for more people. These are currently our experts’ favourite five
More and more people are coming to realise that an electric a car is a genuine proposition for 21st-centrury motoring.
With increasing amounts of us living in the city or the suburbs, and never needing to undertake long journeys by car, the relaxing drive and low running costs of an electric car are making them all the more attractive.
Of course, most are not without their limitations – most have a real-world range of no more than 100 miles; they’re comparatively dear to buy; and, you need easy access to charging facilities – but as long as you can live with those restrictions (and more people than will admit it, can…), an electric car is a very sensible choice.
The question is what to buy, but with more and more makers selling electric cars, you can find pretty much whatever you want – from city cars to sports cars, and all points in between. And, if you are tempted, let our experts guide you through the best of the current crop.
Nissan Leaf – the British-built one
More than any other, the Leaf is the car that convinced a sceptical public that an electric car was something to consider; and, even now, it’s a compelling proposition. Around town – which is the natural habitat of an electric car – the Leaf is smooth, comfortable and near-silent. Even in the heaviest traffic, the way it drives is supremely relaxing. Above all, apart from the range, there are no sacrifices to make: the Leaf is a decent five-seater, while the boot will take plenty of luggage. As with any electric car, everyday motoring can cost just pennies, and to cap it all, it even costs less to service than a comparable Pulsar.
Renault Zoe – the (relatively) cheap one
One of the main attractions of electric cars is that they cost so little to run, but the trouble with so many of them is that they cost so much to buy. Not so the Zoe, which is yours for little more than the price of a decently-specced Clio. The beauty of it is that, despite the fact that you’re not spending a million dollars, the Zoe is still a very smart-looking little thing. The blue accents on the outside are complemented by a hi-tech interior; and, as the car was designed from the ground up as an electric car, the batteries don’t limit the car’s practicality too much. It’s good to drive, too, and the icing on the cake is a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.