Tesla Upgrades Model S to "Ludicrous" Mode

Elon Musk - P 2014
AP Images

Elon Musk - P 2014

The upgrade allows the Model S to accelerate from zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also said the Model X SUV will go on sale "in a few months."

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced an upgrade to the Model S P85 D that enables the car to go from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.

Dubbed Ludicrous, the upgrade is a 10 percent improvement over Insane, the current Model S high-performance driving mode, and will be available as a $10,000 upgrade for new Model S buyers and $5,000 for current owners, Musk told reporters in a conference call Friday morning.

Musk said that at that rate of acceleration, the car would be pulling 1.1 gs"it's faster than falling," he said. It's also as fast as some supercars purpose-built for speed. "To have a four-door full-size sedan go from zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds is mind-blowing," Musk said.

YouTube is already rife with videos of street races in which the Model S, driven in Insane mode, embarrasses Ferraris costing twice as much. 

"Nobody was asking for Ludicrous mode because it was too ludicrous," Musk said. "People have loved Insane mode. We sort of figured from an engineering standpoint to go beyond Insane and we [said], 'We should release that.'"

During the call, Musk reported that Tesla's Model X SUV and Model 3 mass-market sedan were  "on track " for delivery "in a few months" for the Model X and two years for the Model 3.

Musk also revealed that Tesla was close to releasing a Beta version of its Autopilot self-driving software and is making the final adjustments by road testing the technology on "one of the world's worst freeways," L.A.'s notorious 405.

Autonomous driving systems rely on stereoscopic cameras that scan the road and feed information to the car's computers. The 405, Musk pointed out, is particularly challenging because of  "light concrete surfaces with faded white lines and black skid marks that are not easy for the computer to figure out. The lane width varies massively over a short distance."

Musk said Ludicrous mode will be available on the Model X but because of the car's weight and higher center of gravity, its 0-60 time would be "3.3-ish — but that's mad for an SUV."

The Model S, introduced 2012, gained its first foothold of popularity in Southern California as Hollywood's elite embrace it as an eco-status symbol. Model S drivers have included Steven Spielberg, Don Cheadle, James Cameron and Zooey Deschanel

According to data from IHS Automotive, 1,242 Model S cars were registered in Los Angeles during the first quarter of 2015, representing nearly half of all Tesla sales in California.