Tesla is preparing to announce what could be its fastest, most powerful car yet, with a larger battery and a real-world range of 300 miles. The car will be called the Model S P100D and will have a battery pack some 11% larger than the current range-topper, the P90D.
References to the new car were discovered in a recent Model S software update by Jason Hughes, a renowned hacker and Tesla owner who is known for tinkering with the electric car's hardware and software. Hugh revealed his findings in a cryptic tweet sent to Tesla Motors and its CEO, Elon Musk.
The tweet, which looks to most people like something sent from a spambot, began: "I know your secret" then included a long chain of letters and numbers. Once decoded by members of the Tesla Motors Club forum, it was found the message read: "P100D."
Following Tesla's naming structure, this refers to a car which has a 100kWh battery pack, is the faster 'performance' version of the 100 range, and is all-wheel-drive, with one electric motor powering the front wheels and another, larger motor powering the rear.
Hughes then followed up with a tweet of a P100D logo he found buried in the latest 2.13.77 version of Tesla's software. But it would seem Tesla isn't yet ready to announce the P100D, as soon after Hughes published the image, he tweeted again to say Tesla was trying to downgrade the software on his car to an older version which does not include the P100D references.
Musk replied to say the software downgrade, which Hughes managed to block and cancel, was "not done at my request." Musk added that "good hacking is a gift," presumably referring to Hughes' mostly harmless exploits.
Although a P100D could have even better performance than the P90D – a car with 762 horsepower and capable of reaching 60mph in 2.8 seconds – Tesla will likely market the new model as a car capable of a real-world 300 miles between charges. A 100D model (without the P and performance gains this brings) should manage even more.
While Tesla says the current P90D can achieve 315 miles, this estimate is difficult to reach during real-world driving. IBTimes UK recently reviewed a P90D with the Ludicrous Speed upgrade and found 200-250 miles to be a more realistic target.
However, being the showman he is, we wouldn't put it past Musk to dub the P100D as the 'fastest Tesla ever', but there will soon come a point where physics takes over and a 2.2-tonne car cannot accelerate more quickly.
Speaking to Teslarati on 5 March, Hughes said: "There have been configuration options in the firmware as early as about two months ago. With the latest 2.13.77 update [Tesla] included the badges for the P100D, among other things. I'm very confident that it's a real thing based on what I've seen of other things in previous versions of the firmware. For example, the '90' was in the firmware for some time prior to release".
Tesla may well choose to announce the Model S P100D – and perhaps a P100D version of the Model X, too – at the launch of the new Model 3, which takes place in California on 31 March.