Tesla Shows Off New Long-Range Drive Units for Models S and X

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

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If it weren’t already painfully obvious, Tesla doesn’t like to do things like other automakers. It doesn’t have dealerships. It doesn’t advertise. And it doesn’t refresh its cars. Well, at least not in the traditional once-every-three-years sense.

  • Tesla announces via Twitter, new long range drivetrains are entering production
  • Upgraded motors for Model S and X allow for 370 and 325 miles of range respectively
  • New air-suspension programming lowers car at speed for greater efficiency
  • Tesla offers free Ludicrous Speed upgrade for legacy owners who upgrade to a new Model S or X

Just because company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk doesn’t show up at the Detroit Auto Show every 36 months to show-off the new and improved Model S or Model X, it doesn’t mean the vehicles aren’t getting updated. Quite the contrary.

Underscoring that fact, Tesla revealed last week that starting on April 23rd, all Model S and Model X vehicles were being fitted with the brand’s new drivetrain design. The new efficient drivetrain allows the Long Range versions of the vehicles to achieve more miles per charge than ever before. Specifically, the Model S Long Range is now rated at 370 miles per charge. And Model X Long Range is said to do 325 miles per charge.

Of course, Tesla took to Twitter to publicize its new powertrains.

The benefit of the updated Models S and X don’t end with drivetrains units. Thanks to the company’s new Version 3 Superchargers, Tesla vehicles’ 100 kilowatt-hour battery packs can now recharge 50% faster.

Plus, an over-the-air update improved the air-ride suspension as well. More intelligent reading of the road and the driver’s driving-style and inputs means that the air suspension will soften up on highways or when Autopilot is engaged. And it will conversely stiffen up when the driver is driving more dynamically.

Tesla also programmed suspension to lower at higher speeds, which further improves aerodynamic efficiency. However, this may prove a liability in the long run. That’s because Tesla had raised highway ride heights for its vehicles after a few of its Model S vehicles caught fire after incurring damage to the battery from roadway debris puncturing the pack. Wisely, as you can see in the tweet below, owners can opt-in, or out of automatic suspension lowering.

There are good reasons why Tesla doesn’t partake of the traditional refresh cycle of other automakers. The chief among them is money.

Understandably, if a would-be Tesla buyer knew that an improved Model S was coming, they’d wait to buy. And Tesla needs every sale it can get. So keeping the next best model under wraps behooves them.

Plus, Tesla likely doesn’t have the money to continually improve the looks and hardware features of its vehicles. It has sculpted aerodynamic shapes and fitted the spartan interiors with big screens. Why would it change that now? It plays into its ‘ever-evolving’ brand image.

That is how Tesla spins its being hard up for sales and lacking resources to meaningfully improve its vehicles inside and out on regular basis. Like almost everything CEO Musk and Tesla does, it’s tricky but clever.

I just have to wonder about the buyers who bought a Model S or Model X that was built on April 22, 2019. How mad must they be? Pretty, Tesla must reckon. Accordingly, Tesla is offering legacy owners who step up and buy a new Model S or Model X Performance model a free upgrade to Ludicrous mode — a $20,000 value.

Although generous, that move tells me that Tesla knows its quiet updates must be upsetting some owners.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

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