Tesla announces Model S Ludicrous upgrade, 90-kWh battery

New Base Model, 70-kWh Pack With One Motor, Costs $70,000

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
Tesla announced some major upgrade options to the Model S today, including bigger batteries and a quicker acceleration mode, called "Ludicrous." That option will take the car from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. During the hold music for the online press conference, the automaker played some of Ludacris' music, which was the first hint we had for this clever name. The upcoming Model X will also get this Ludicrous mode, which Musk guessed would offer a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds.

Details for how Tesla can offer this quicker option can be found in CEO Elon Musk's blog post (available below), but the gist is that a new advanced smart fuse for the battery allows an increase in the maximum amp throughout from 1,300 to 1,500 amps. This will cost new buyers $10,000, but current P85D owners can get the upgrade pack electronics for $5,000 plus installation labor, for the next six months.

Tesla is also offering an upgrade to a 90-kWh battery pack for $3,000. Previously, the biggest pack was 85 kWh. Musk didn't have any official range numbers for the new pack, but said that the five-to-six percent increase in capacity should offer a similar increase in range.

The bigger pack is due to improved cell chemistry, Musk said on the call. In the official blog announcement, Musk wrote that Tesla expects to offer about a five-percent increase in battery capacity every year.

Lastly, there is a new lower-cost Model S, the Model S 70 RWD. This will start at $70,000 and has only one motor. The previous base Model S was the dual-motor 70, which is still available and costs $75,000. All of these prices are before incentives.

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- 90 kWh battery pack option for $3k
- 70 kWh rear drive Model S for $70k (effectively ~$50k after incentives & gas savings)
- 2.8 sec 0 to 60 mph upgrade to "Ludicrous Mode"

First, I should address something that might be on your mind, like: "Where the heck is the Model X and the Model 3!? You should really get on that." Don't worry, those remain our focus and good progress is being made on both. X is on track for first deliveries in two months and Model 3 in just over two years.

Now, on to the awesome news of today. New buyers now have the option of upgrading the pack energy from 85 to 90 kWh, which provides up to 15 miles of additional range. This takes our current longest range model, the 85D to almost exactly 300 miles of highway range at 65mph.

Existing owners can also purchase the pack upgrade, but I wouldn't recommend doing so unless your usage is on the edge of current range. On average, we expect to increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year. Better to wait until you have more time on your existing pack and there is a larger accumulated pack energy difference.

70kWh for $70k

We are now offering the 70kWh version of the Model S in the single motor version for $5k less than the dual motor, consistent with the price differential for the single and dual motor 85 kWh car. Importantly, enough options are now standard that you will have bought a great car even if you pick the base version. Various purchase incentives mean the actual net price is around $60k and annual gasoline and servicing savings are around $2k. These savings are captured immediately if you lease the car.

Luuudicrous Mode

While working on our goal of making the power train last a million miles, we came up with the idea for an advanced smart fuse for the battery. Instead of a standard fuse that just melts past a certain amperage, which means you aren't exactly sure when it will or won't melt or if it will arc when it does, we developed a fuse with its own electronics and a tiny lithium-ion battery. It constantly monitors current at the millisecond level and is pyro-actuated to cut power with extreme precision and certainty.

That was combined with upgrading the main pack contractor to use inconel (a high temperature space-grade superalloy) instead of steel, so that it remains springy under the heat of heavy current.

The net result is that we can safely increase max amp throughout from 1300 to 1500 Amps. If you don't know much about Amps, trust me this is a silly big number of Amps to be going through something the size of your little fingernail.

What this results in is a 10% improvement in the 0 to 60 mph time to 2.8 secs and a quarter mile time of 10.9 secs. Time to 155 mph is improved even more, resulting in a 20% reduction.

This option will cost $10k to new buyers. In appreciation of our existing P85D owners, the upgraded pack electronics will be offered for the next six months at only $5k plus installation labor.

It is important to note that the battery pack size upgrade and the pack electronics upgrade are almost entirely independent. The first is about energy, which affects range, and the second is about power, which affects acceleration.

There is of course one speed faster than ludicrous, but that is reserved for the next generation Roadster in 4 years: maximum plaid.


Model S already offers the highest possible safety ratings, the longest range of any EV, and over-the-air updates that continuously make it better. The performance improvements we're announcing today demonstrate, yet again, that an electric car can soundly beat any gasoline car on efficiency and pure performance.

Today's three new options give customers the ability to order the Model S for their lifestyle:

90kWh Battery

Model S with maximum range. Available as an option on all 85kWh Model S, the new extended range option gives customers the ability to order a 90kWh battery. The upgrade increases range on all 85 kWh Model S by 5%.

Ludicrous Speed

Ludicrous Speed decreases the 0-60 mph time for Model S 10% to 2.8 seconds with a quarter mile time of 10.9 seconds. Time to 155 miles per hour is now 20% faster than a standard Model S Performance.

Model S 70

In line with our mission to make our cars increasingly affordable, 70 RWD offers the best value of any Model S released to date, $5,000 less than the current lowest priced Model S with all the current standard equipment. Model S 70 RWD starts at $70,000.

Here are a few examples of what a customer can now order:

Model S P90D: truly Ludicrous performance; 0-60 in 2.8 sec with a quarter mile time of 10.9 seconds. Motor Power: 259 hp front, 503 hp rear, 253 miles range

Model S 90D: the longest-range Model S ever produced, 90D travels up to 270 miles on a single charge. 417 hp

Model S 70: 230 miles range, 0=60: 5.2, 328 hp

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