The Model S is the second highest volume selling EV in the world, only eclipsed by the Nissan Leaf. At the time of writing, almost 200,000 had been sold worldwide! Tesla Model Ss have covered more distance than any other model of EV…
The Model S comes in both single motor RWD and a twin motor AWD version, and a Performance model is available with an upgraded controller.
The lowest power version comes with 270 kW and 440 Nm of torque…nothing to be sneezed at!
With the performance controller enabled at the highest power setting, 568 kW is available, 931 Nm of torque, and the 0-100 km/h sprint can be dispatched in 2.8 seconds, pulling over one G of acceleration! This is faster than Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and pretty much anything short of a full race car!
Nor is the impressive performance limited to acceleration or top speed (incidentally, 249 km/h on the top spec models..), the biggest drawcard for many is the range…
There are many variants of the Model S available, with each having a different range on a charge, but the advertised range for those models currently available in Australia varies from 420 km to 528 km, and record runs using “hypermiling” techniques have seen over 700km achieved… This surely puts the “range anxiety” problem to bed!
The range is achieved by using a large battery pack…depending on which specification is purchased, the battery pack holds between 60 and 90 kWh with 100 kWh slated for release soon. This is a big battery pack! It weighs more than 500kg, and is comprised of several thousand cylindrical cells, known as 18650 cells. These are 18mm diameter and 65mm long.
The 18650 cells are assembled into modules, protected by fuses, then assembled into the car under the passenger cell floor. This provides a very low centre of gravity, giving the Model S excellent roadholding.
Technically, the Model S is impressive…the dash is an LCD touchscreen, a full glass panoramic roof is available, air suspension is an option, and recently an autopilot feature was enabled which allows the car to follow a lane and steer itself, automatically braking if another car is too close, and automatically changing lanes if the driver taps the indicator switch using sonar to ensure a clear gap. The Model S can self park as well. The car runs a Linux operating system and can be updated wirelessly by Tesla.
Because there is no engine up front, there is a separate luggage compartment where you would normally expect to find the engine.
An optional extra rear facing seat allows a 7 seat capacity, although only children will fit comfortably.
Charging in Australia is with a Euro style Mennekes plug, although adapters are available from Tesla to allow charging from a normal powerpoint and from J1772 charging stations.
The Tesla Supercharger network of fast DC chargers is being rolled out across Australia, with the plan to complete the entire eastern seaboard in the near future. Supercharger stations are free to use for Tesla Model S owners. Currently they are not usable by other vehicles, but Tesla have been reported to be considering offering access to other vehicles for a fee.
Tesla have, as usual, gone their own way with their motor technology. While most EVs use permanent magnet AC motors, Tesla have gone with a squirrel cage induction motor which is the same basic design as the common industrial motors found in every workshop and factory. Naturally the Tesla one is quite refined and runs at almost 20,000 rpm (most factory EVs run at up to 10,000 rpm and industrial motors are usually around 1,400 rpm) and uses copper for the induction cage which is more expensive but more efficient than the aluminium found in common induction motors.
The Model S was launched in the USA in 2012, after a long wait from excited customers. Release in Europe followed in 2013, and in Australia the first examples were delivered in December 2014. Since then the Model S has become the highest selling EV in Australia, despite its steep price tag…