The big question is how the new configuration affects both the car's range, as well as its handling. Not to mention the price. Today, ahead of a launch for the D, Musk told USA Today the new configuration would up that range by an extra 10 miles per charge, and bring a 0 to 60 time to just 3.2 seconds.
"IT'S LIKE TAKING OFF FROM A CARRIER DECK."
Along with the change to the engine, Tesla's added new built-in safety features that help the car drive itself. It's using cameras and other sensors, something the company has been installing on all new Model S vehicles produced over the past month to conform with European safety regulations, to look for objects — including other cars — as well as road lines, to keep the car safe. That's not a new thing in the auto industry, but an important step in getting cars to be completely autonomous, something Musk has said is still 5 to 6 years away from being a reality.
Self-driving technologies that do more than just keep the car from drifting out of lanes and hitting objects are the next logical step, promising to increase safety and allow drivers to essentially become just another passenger. Computer-controlled cars also promise to react to things faster, and could open up certain sections of roadways to higher speeds given the extra reaction time — speeding up long distance car travel.
Tesla is far from alone in that pursuit. Audi, BMW, Toyota, and others are all developing self-driving technologies, with many using California as a testbed. Last month the state began issuing permits for limited testing on self-driving vehicles on state roads.