Tesla’s New Model S P100D: Just How Ludicrous is It?

Tesla Model S P100D
It may be the fastest car you can buy, but the Tesla Model S P100D is a reasonable proposition for the money | Tesla

Say what you will about Tesla; the electric car maker has a knack for making news. As a strategy for an automotive company that does not advertise, it’s incredibly effective, but the hype sometimes is more than the actual vehicle can bear. Now that the dust has settled on the release of the Model S P100D — the model that can accelerate faster than any other production car on the market — we thought it was time to check if the car is a ludicrous proposition or a reasonable buy.

First come the specs, and they are jaw-dropping: The 100 kWh battery does things few cars of any powertrain can do, beginning with the zero-to-60 run in 2.5 seconds when operating in (optional) Ludicrous mode. If you’re keeping score at home, that makes it No. 1 on the quick-meter. As an electric vehicle, it outdoes previous Model S iterations by increasing the segment-best range to 315 miles, so there is no comp as far as that goes, either.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 10: A Tesla Model S is displayed inside of the new Tesla flagship facility on August 10, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Tesla is opening a 65,000 square foot store, its largest retail center to date. The facility will offer sales and service of Tesla's electric car line.
Those who ordered the Model S P90D with Ludicrous mode can upgrade to P100DL for $10,000 | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This range and performance runs buyers $134,500, although Uncle Sam will be glad to knock off $7,500 at tax time. There are several states that are happy to trim $2,500 or up to $6,000 more off the price, but we’ll stick with $127,000. As Elon Musk referenced in the Tesla statement, only two cars accelerate faster than this model: Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder, two hybrid supercars that were available in limited editions and are no longer in production.

Those flashy two-seaters cost $1.4 million (LaFerrari) or just under $1 million (918), so we’re starting out at at least $800,000 less if you opt for the new Model S. Of course, the two European models are absolutely one-of-a-kind head-turners that roar with ferocious abandon, so there is no mistaking them in the company of a five-seat sedan that drives more or less silently. But if you crave speed and green driving above all else, there is nothing even in the ballpark.

BMW i8
While only million-dollar supercars come close to Model S P100D performance, the BMW i8 is a valid comp | BMW

Ironically, both the 918 Spyder and LaFerrari are plug-in hybrids with limited EV range, so you could make the case for them being vaguely green, as we recently did in an Auto Cheat Sheet post. However, there is another plug-in hybrid in the same price range that is worth a look: BMW i8, listed at $140,700 before plug-in hybrid incentives.

In terms of electric range, EPA tests say it gets you 14 miles without switching to high-octane gasoline. Unfortunately, it will take you all of 4.2 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill (yawn). By that time, Model S P100D is blasting closer to 100, leaving i8 drivers with only high style as a consolation prize. For a plug-in hybrid, it doesn’t top the new Model S by much: i8 can only cover 330 miles on a full tank of gas and charged battery.

Weren’t plug-in hybrids the answer for those terrified by range anxiety? Even the new Chevy Volt only offers 420 miles with a full tank and total charge, so P100D doesn’t make excuses on any level.

Getting back to the Tesla marketing machine, you can’t beat releasing the world’s quickest production car and then remind everyone it runs without gas. A few years ago, such a concept was unthinkable. Several ludicrous Model S trims later, the car-buying public can choose an EV or compromise with some gas-powered supercar. Now we’re talking about a revolution, and a reasonably priced one at that.

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