What Can We Expect About the Tesla Model X?
Tesla’s New Model S Dual Motor Provides Some Insight
Tesla revealed something pretty exciting last week, even for those who don’t really care about electric cars. The Tesla Model S will now be available with all-wheel drive, denoted by “D” badging. That extra letter stands for Dual Motor propulsion, which adds an electric drive unit to the front axle, complementing the rear-mounted drive unit from the standard Model S.
Like the standard Model S, the Dual Motor will be available in three flavors: 60D, 85D, and P85D. That last model comes with the Model S P85’s more powerful rear motor and a stronger front motor than other D models, shooting the P85D to 60 mph in just over three seconds, according to Tesla.
All of that begs the question: What can we expect from Tesla’s next models, particularly the Model X crossover? After all, the luxury-SUV market is expanding, but it still doesn't offer any all-electric options.
Well, we know that the Model X will use a platform similar to the Model S, so it’s a safe bet that anything the sedan gets will be available on the crossover. We also know that the Model X has been confirmed to offer the same 60-kWh and 85-kWh batteries, with some kind of optional performance pack, as in the Model S. The prospect of a crossover SUV with performance like the Model S P85D is pretty exciting, and if it happens, it would almost assuredly be the among the quickest SUVs on the market from 0 to 60 mph.
The most compelling part of the Model X equation is the instant torque vectoring that the twin electric motors will provide. In conventionally powered all-wheel drive vehicles, a single powerplant distributes engine power to all four wheels through a system of driveshafts and differentials, and even the best systems take some time to react to changing road conditions.
However, in a Dual Motor Tesla, the vehicle will be able to shuffle electrons between the axle-mounted drive units within a millisecond, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “You can very quickly adjust torque more than is possible, really, with a mechanically linked system,” Musk said during the Tesla D reveal.
Additionally, the front and rear-mounted drive units will be able to portion torque between the left and right wheels, which will help handling and traction. Torque vectoring can be very beneficial in real-world conditions, and Tesla’s twin electric motors would only magnify its effects.
What’s more, Tesla predicts that the D-badged Model S sedans will actually be more efficient than their rear-drive counterparts, due to the dual motors allowing the car’s computer to maximize efficiency by directing torque where it’s least wasteful. That means that the Model X will likely have a pretty usable range in spite of being a large, three-row crossover.
We’re excited to drive the Model X, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a bit. The CUV was supposed to be on sale earlier this year, but a few delays mean that we can expect it in production by the second quarter of 2015, winged-jellybean styling and all.