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Elon Musk: upgrade to Tesla Model S car makes it ‘faster than falling’

Elon Musk has made it official: his electric car company, Tesla Motors, is planning to debut an unnamed new Roadster in four years, and it won’t be based on the Lotus like the last one.

But Musk isn’t done with the old cars yet. The electric tech mogul held a press conference on Friday to tell reporters how fast his old car goes with its new upgrade: zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, which would put the four-door sedan in a league with high-end sports cars like the most recent Lamborghini Murciélago.

The upgrade package, which will be an additional $10,000 for new Model S buyers and $5,000 plus labor for people who now own the car, is called “Ludicrous mode”.

“People have loved Insane mode,” Musk said. “It’s been extremely well-received. It’s incredible fun. It’s like having your own private rollercoaster.” Tesla customers weren’t asking to go faster, he added, but the company wanted to see if they could do it.

“We figured out from an engineering standpoint how to go beyond and then we thought, we should release that.” Musk said that the acceleration was officially 1.1 G’s, making it “faster than falling”.

“You can’t hide that light under a bushel,” he said.

Musk was asked how the new packages would affect the company’s revenue. The company rolled out a longer-lasting battery, as well, that will take the car about 50 miles further.

“As far as sales, I have no idea”, he answered. “We’re just trying to make awesome cars. And we thought these would be pretty awesome.”

The company is also making self-driving software alongside auto giants such as Daimler and tech companies including Google. Musk said the software was progressing, but that he had run into difficulties on the road in California.

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“Right now [the auto-driving software] works incredibly well if the highway markings are clear,” he said, but less so if lane lines are hard to see. This is a problem across self-driving vehicles; when Daimler sought permission to run self-driving 18-wheelers in Nevada, it asked the state to brighten the lane lines.

“The acid test […] happens to be the 405 in LA, one of the world’s worst freeways,” Musk said, “which is a light concrete surface with faded white lines and then black skidmarks that have a higher contrast than the actual lanes.” Lane width also varies on the 405, he said.

Asked what was keeping the Model X, which has been delayed several times, Musk said the larger car had had to be redesigned more fully from the Model S than he had anticipated. “We originally thought the X would have a lot of commonality with the S,” he said. “But maybe 30% of the parts are in common, so there’s a huge amount of body work associated with the X and that’s our main focus right now.

The new car will have an even faster mode than Ludicrous, Musk promised. He called it “Maximum Plaid”.


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