For a while, if you’ve wanted an extremely quick car, something that can rip from a standstill to 60 miles an hour in under three seconds, you had limited options. The McLaren P1 will accomplish your goal, as will a Bugatti Veyron, though both will set your bank account back by seven figures. Also capable (and, at $1.4 million, supremely costly) is the Ferrari LaFerrari, which can scream to 60 in 2.4 seconds. Next month, a new six-figure entrant will join those esteemed supercars grouped atop the Quickest Production Car lists: Telsa’s Model S P100D.
Earlier this month, Telsa CEO Elon Musk announced a forthcoming free, over-the-air update that will shave 0.1 second off the 0–60 time of the P100D, dropping it to 2.4 seconds. The Model X’s 0–60 time also falls by one-tenth of a second to 2.8. Those are some impressive numbers. The update will come in the form an “Easter Egg,” and while Tesla has dropped these free cute updates before, often accessed by some digging and specific sequences of button-pushing, the prior gifts were always quirky things. Some changed the graphics inside the car to resemble rainbows, or made in-car graphics look like a James Bond submarine Lotus, but this is the first egg that will modify actual performance. The update is scheduled to hit sometime early next month.
And, if increased quickness wasn’t enough, Christmas will keep coming early for Tesla owners. Musk announced back in October that all future Teslas would be built containing the hardware capable of Level 5 autonomous driving, though the systems would need matching software to be enabled and that wouldn’t happen until a later date. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Musk tweeted that the software rollout will also begin in December.
For the uninitiated, there are five levels of autonomy demarcated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Level 5 is the full-on, no-need-to-pay-attention level. We’re currently nowhere near there and won’t be for some time (likely, the end of next year at the earliest), but this December rollout is the first step in an incremental plan to reach the promised future of watching TV in your car while it whisks you off to the store or ferries you home from the bar.
While the hardware is all in place — eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, Nvidia Titan GPU, and a forward-facing radar rig — Telsa is hurrying to finish developing the software to control and process all that data into a meaningful and manageable way. Their “Tesla Vision” image processing system, or how the car will view the world, is a core building block in the architecture is coming along well, and the Enhanced Autopilot rollout will dovetail nicely into that system.
New features available from the Enhanced Autopilot update include matching speed to traffic conditions, lane-keeping assistance, automatically changing lanes without driver input, transitioning from one highway to another, exiting the freeway, self-parking, and parking itself in your garage — as well as being summoned from it.