New Tesla matches Bugatti Veyron and closes in on Porsche 918 Spyder

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Tesla announced new versions of its luxury cars that break major barriers for electric vehicles.

But are the upgrades, as the chief executive officer Elon Musk claims, enough to hand Tesla the title of fastest car in the world?

Well, simply put, no. Not quite.

Tesla has a new, larger battery option for the Model S and Model X line, which includes an improved Ludicrous Mode that boasts a 2.5 second 0 to 60mph time on the Model S, which is 0.1 second faster than the Model S’ previous maximum. However, still at the top of the tree is the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder, which hits 60mph in 2.2 seconds, while Ferrari’s LaFerrari manages it in 2.4 seconds.

But the Tesla does tie third with the still revered Bugatti Veyron Supersport’s 2.5 seconds.

The 100kWh battery option is not just for speed – it also adds range, giving 506km in total according to EPA-standard estimates, which is more than 30km more than the maxed out version of the previous top-end 90kWh battery.

Tesla’s previous top-end Model S, the 90D, could manage 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds. That car starts at US$79,000 new after estimated savings in the United States, according to Tesla’s website; the P100D is about $121,500 delivered to start. Even the Model X is quick off the draw, with a 2.9 second 0-60mph time when equipped with the P100D and Ludicrous Mode, which beats the McLaren 675LT.

The cost of the P100D upgrade is considerable, although you can upgrade from the P90D Ludicrous for an additional $10,000 if you pre-ordered but have not received your vehicle. If you have already got the P90D in your garage or driveway, you can upgrade for $20,000, which Tesla says includes the cost of recycling the old battery pack.

It says the expensive frills of the P100D models will go to good use – it notes in its official blog post that the sales of these will help “pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development”.

The Teslas’ speeds are crazy fast, but the vehicles are staggeringly cheap when compared with their rivals, sold-out supercars with tiny production runs, in the 0-60mph game: Ferrari’s $1.4 million LaFerrari, Porsche’s $845,000 918 Spyder, and Bugatti’s $2.3 million Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.

For the first time, Mr Musk said, “the fastest car in the world, of any kind, is electric. In the future, people are really going to look at gasoline cars in the same way we look at steam engines today: They’re quaint, but it’s not really how you get around.”

Squeezing another 10 kilowatt hours out of what was already the world’s largest car battery posed a difficult challenge, Mr Musk said. The improved battery packs use the same Panasonic cells as previous Teslas, but they require new wiring and changes to the seats to ensure safety, given the additional weight. Mr Musk said the packs are reaching performance and capacity limits for the current generation of cells. The company will be shifting to a larger cell with the launch of the Model 3 next year, enabling additional gains for the entire Tesla lineup.

Production of the new P100D will initially be limited to about 200 a week, at least for the first few months, Mr Musk said.

Still, that means within a month the production run will have outpaced the Porsche Spyder’s total of 918 cars.

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