Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveiled the “D” on Thursday night, which stands for the ultra-powerful “dual-motor” in the new and improved Model S sedan.
The car looks the same from the outside, but it is radically improved. The acceleration is faster, the top speed is higher, and for the first time ever, the efficiency of the car actually increases, despite the increased mass of the motor.
But Musk said “there’s something else” about this new car: Autopilot. It’s not quite a driverless car, but rather cruise control on steroids. The car can read speed-limit signs automatically and can even turn without hands on the wheel.
And you really need to see Autopilot to believe it. Watch this 90-second video, courtesy of SlashGear, and you’ll be convinced you’re looking at the future of automobiles. (Things really get crazy at the 0:38 mark, when the driver engages Autopilot.)
After Thursday night’s super-brief event, Musk invited journalists to hop into the new dual-motor Model S and try out all the new features. There was even a long strip so drivers could test out the exhilarating power of the car, which can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 3.2 seconds. That’s faster than most high-end Italian car offerings from Lamborghini and Bugatti.
The highlight of the test drive was the autopilot functionality, which uses 360-degree long-range ultrasonic radar that establishes a “protective cocoon” around the car, protecting it from obstacles in the road — even small moving objects, like children or dogs.
Musk insists the car is not autonomous, but it will obey speed limits, steer out of the way of barriers, and even self-park itself in your garage — with you out of the car. You can even summon the car to your location, and it will drive up to meet you, turning on any music or air conditioning preferences you might have.
Learn more about the new Model S.