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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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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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