Say the words "electric car" 10 years ago and most car guys would snicker. Follow it up with "winning a drag race" and they'll fall over laughing.
Then Tesla came out with its high-performance Roadster electric car and everyone took notice. Here was an electric car that was quicker off the line than its gas-powered cousin, the Lotus Elise. Sure it fell down in a bunch of other areas, like handling and range, but for a first effort it was amazing.
Fast forward to today and no one questions the performance benefits of electricity. Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche all have hybrid supercars that use electric motors to take performance beyond what anyone thought was possible.
In terms of purely electric cars, Tesla's high-end Model S P85D and its "Insane Mode" can beat the most powerful production sedan in the world in a quarter-mile drag race. The P85D has the equivalent of 691 horsepower and goes from 0-60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. And now it's going to get faster.
Tesla is unleashing the Model S P90D, which has "Ludicrous Mode." This bumps up the horsepower to 762, and gives it a 0-60 time of 2.8 seconds.
There are some hypercars faster than that, but not many, and they cost 10 to 20 times more. The P90D will also do the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds and gets to its top speed of 155 mph 20% faster. Yes please!
To pull this off, Elon Musk and his team at Tesla came up with a new kind of fuse for the battery pack. Unlike regular dumb fuses that burn out at a general range of current that might be lower than necessary, this "smart" fuse monitors the current every millisecond so it knows precisely when it needs to cut out.
Tesla also changed parts of the battery pack to use inconel, which is a high-temperature alloy, instead of steel. This means the battery pack can safely put out 1500 Amps instead of the "measly" 1300 Amps it was already doing.
While this is going to be standard on the P90D, P85D owners can get "Ludicrous Mode" on their cars for $10,000 and a quick trip to a Tesla facility. It will also be available on the Model X SUV.
Also, if you're wondering where Tesla could possibly go next with performance, there's a new Roadster coming and Musk says it's going to be even faster. Although, judging by these reactions, Tesla's current cars are fast enough for most people.