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How Tesla transformed the Model S into a speed demon

July 18th, 2015 at 10:29 AM
Tesla Model S Ludicrous Mode

Tesla yesterday made a number of important product announcements, not the least of which is a new $10,000 upgrade to its already impressive Model S P85D. That extra 10 large will now provide drivers with even more speed and acceleration as Tesla’s top of the line sedan will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds flat and drive a quarter of a mile in 10.9 seconds.

In typical Tesla fashion, tapping into the Model S’ improved acceleration is accomplished by turning on “Ludicrous Mode”, a fitting name for a car that already has an “Insane Mode.”

Improving acceleration by 10% on a car that’s already wicked fast is no small feat, which is why Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s explanation regarding how Tesla engineers managed to do it is worth highlighting.

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During Tesla’s conference call, Musk detailed the work which went on behind the scenes to transform the Tesla Model S into a 762 horsepower speed demon.

Below is a transcript of Musk’s explanation courtesy of Jalopnik.

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.

All the more impressive is that “Ludicrous Mode” will also be coming to Tesla’s highly anticipated Model X SUV, albeit with a slightly slower 0-60 time.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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