Last week, Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musk sent out this curious tweet:
About time to unveil the D and something else pic.twitter.com/qp23yi59i6— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2014
The internet tittered like third-graders laughing at the word "tittered".
Today, however, no one's laughing or tittering or even chortling, because last night, Musk unveiled his majestic D, and it was good.
The D isn't Tesla's next model -- that would be the Model X crossover, which is expected to go on sale in 2015. Rather, the D is a performance package for the company's Model S sedan that transforms it from a mere groundbreaking electric car into something even more remarkable.
One of the D's most prominent features is semi-autonomous driving capability. A network of sensors keep the Model S in its lane and adjust the vehicle's speed by scanning signs for the posted speed limit. The D's cameras let the Model S park itself, change lanes while the vehicle's in traffic, and detect pedestrians. The D upgrade also provides automatic braking -- not just in case of emergencies, but under normal driving conditions, too.
(Note: At this point, these autonomous features are designed as backup systems to protect drivers who may be distracted or drowsy. However, it's possible that in the near future, owners will be able to switch the Model S directly into self-driving mode.)
The other thing to note about the D is its unique transmission, which adds a motor to the sedan's front axle and allows the Model S to shift from rear-wheel-drive to all-wheel-drive in mere milliseconds. Not only does that boost the car's 0-to-60 mph time to a staggering 3.2 seconds, it also makes the car more efficient. The range of the lowest-priced 60 kWh Model S jumps from 208 miles to 225 miles, while the 85 kWh and P85 models tick up from 265 miles to 275 miles.
Of course, all that power and efficiency come at a cost. The 60 kWh model that's normally $71,070 goes for $75,070 with the D package. The top-of-the-line P85 zips from $105,570 to $120,170.
Don't feel like shelling out the extra dough? No worries. Even non-D versions of the Model S will come equipped with the autonomous features mentioned above. In fact, vehicles manufactured over the past few weeks already have them installed.
Tesla's D package for the Model S is expected to go on sale this December. For a look at the technology in action and the unveiling, check out the videos embedded above and below. And be sure to visit our colleagues at Green Car Reports for many more details.