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Car and Driver: Could a Tesla Model S P100D With a 100-kWh Battery Be Happening? A Hacker Says Yes


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2015 Tesla Model S


In what’s surely the most Silicon Valley automotive news this week, a noted Tesla hacker has posited that Tesla will soon roll out a Model S electric sedan with a larger, 100-kWh battery pack, after he hacked a Model S and found references to such a model in the code. The news comes courtesy of Electrotek, which uncovered the hacker’s tweet to Tesla CEO Elon Musk noting—in inscrutable code-speak—the references to a P100D hidden in the Model S’s onboard software.


If you’re confused at this point, allow us to clear things up with some background. First of all, Tesla’s model naming for the Model S sedan follows a convention where a “P” is followed by a number and, if a car comes with all-wheel drive, a “D.” The number refers to the car’s battery capacity in kWh, and right now the base Model S is the “P70D,” for having a 70-kWh battery and all-wheel drive. The top model, following the discontinuation of the P85D, is the P90D, which added 5 kWh to the P85’s battery capacity this year. Hence, a P100D would be both new and, in keeping with Tesla’s naming convention, the new top dog in the Model S family with a 100 kWh battery.


So how could the hacker, Jason Hughes, uncover such news in a current, non-P100D Model S’s operating system? Easy. Tesla Motors designed the Model S computer to be upgradeable, with over-the-air software updates sent to cars as they become available via Wi-Fi or the cars’ built-in cellular data connection. It isn’t a huge stretch to assume that some updates come with built-in concessions to future models or features, and finding them would be as straightforward as hacking a Model S and finding these preliminary breadcrumbs. Among the P100D hints the hacker found in the Model S’s latest software update was an on-screen rendering of a “P100D” badge.


While it seems as though a P100D is a sure thing, Tesla hasn’t confirmed such a model’s existence. And we must take this news with a grain of salt, given that Hughes’ initial tweet was sent in what’s known as “hash code,” a sort of computer language that requires deciphering; unable to decipher the tweet ourselves, we thus are relying on the internet’s assurances that, decoded, the tweet’s hash code stands for “P100D.”


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