LOS ANGELES -- Tesla Motors will offer an all-wheel-drive system in its all-electric Model S sedan, CEO Elon Musk said, giving a glimpse of the first-of-its-kind powertrain that will power Tesla's Model X crossover when it goes on sale next year.
Musk made the announcement Thursday at an airport hangar in Hawthorne, outside Los Angeles, as robotic arms swung the chassis of the new awd system through the air on stage. The splashy event ended a week of speculation after Musk used Twitter to say that Tesla would "unveil the D" on Oct. 9.
In the Model S naming conventions, the letter "D" will stand for "dual motor."
Cars equipped with Tesla's new awd system will have a second electric motor mounted above the front axle to power the front wheels, joining the electric motor that sits over the rear axle in all current versions of the car. Musk said the dual-motor Model S has quicker acceleration, better grip and a longer range -- despite its added weight -- because it automatically adjusts its use of the two motors to maximize efficiency.
"Literally, everything about the car improves with dual-motor," he told an audience that consisted largely of Model S owners and Tesla employees.
Tesla, which hopes the added grip of the awd system will make the Model S more appealing to buyers in snowy climates, plans to offer it in all trim levels. It will be called the 60D, 85D or P85D, depending on whether the car has a 60- or 80-kilowatt-hour battery pack and whether the owner opted for the "performance pack."