Understanding The Recent Changes Made To Tesla’s Model S & X

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Originally posted on X Auto and EVANNEX.
By Iqtidar Ali

Tesla’s Model S and Model X have gone through a refresh, but this time around, it’s more of an engineering refresh rather than a design refresh — Tesla engineers were able to optimize the drivetrain design in such a way that these vehicles are able to provide significantly more range than they were able to deliver previously using the same 100 kWh battery pack.

Tesla Model S and Model X side by side in the latest press photoThe Tesla Model S and Model X have evolved (Source: Tesla)

The new EPA-estimated range for the Tesla Model S is now 370 miles (595 km) and the Tesla Model X can now go up to 325 miles (523 km) on a single charge. Tesla’s cars already boasted the longest range of any production electric vehicle on the planet — now they just got even better.

Newly upgraded Model S and X drive unit. Newly upgraded Model S and X drive unit (Source: Tesla)

Another big update for existing Model S/X owners is that “Ludicrous Mode” (a $20,000 value) is now “free” with the purchase of a Performance variant of both vehicles. Ludicrous Mode is not for the lighthearted. It gives a 20% boost to the acceleration, which means a Model S Ludicrous will go from 0–60 mph in just 2.4 secs, putting million-dollar supercars to shame.

The updated/new Model S and X are currently in production and if a customer places an order for either of these, they’ll get their cars delivered with the latest technology in it. And even though the battery pack for both vehicles still uses the old 18650 cells, getting the extended range out of the existing battery setup is an impressive feat of engineering.

Newly upgraded Model S and X drive units rolling down the production line at Tesla Gigafactory 1Newly upgraded Model S and X drive units rolling down the production line at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1. (Source: Tesla)

So what does the improved range on a Tesla Model S mean in the real world? It means you can travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single charge — Motor Trend just successfully tested the updated Model S on this journey.

Also, the Tesla Model S and Model X “Standard Range” variants are back. For a while, Tesla only kept the Long Range (100 kWh) variants available to order, but now the automaker has brought back the Standard Range (Model S 285 miles, Model X 250 miles) options for both vehicles. In addition, the 0–60 mph for Standard Range variants has also benefitted from the latest drive unit efficiency improvements.

Tesla invests a lot of time, energy, and money in R&D and the company aims to keep refining the design and engineering to further improve the efficiency of their EVs — to that end, the company said the following in a detailed blog post:

“To complement these changes, we’ve also re-engineered several other components of Model S and Model X in keeping with our philosophy of continuous improvement. These updates include new wheel bearings and a few new tire designs for certain variants to improve range, ride, and steering. While these changes may seem minor, together they have a meaningful impact when it comes to EV design.”

In addition, the Model S and X drive will be more soft and agile with Tesla’s new Smart Air Suspension. This improvement will automatically adjust the damping to driving style and road conditions. According to Tesla, the new Adaptive Air Suspension will give an “ultra-cushioned feel when cruising on the highway or using Autopilot, and responsive, exhilarating confidence during dynamic driving.”

Tesla’s Model S and X are evolving (Source: Tesla)

Tesla has built the smart air suspension software in-house, thanks to the company’s roots in Silicon Valley. Tesla’s “Adaptive Air Suspension” will constantly be improving over time via over-the-air software updates from the automaker, a feature unique to Tesla vehicles currently.

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