2013 Tesla Model SEnlarge Photo
The 2013 Tesla Model S electric car wouldn't be defined as a supercar--which is, more or less by custom, a two-seat sports car, not a large sedan.
But to take the luxury plug-in sedan "into supercar handling territory," Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has announced a new "Performance Plus" suspension and handling option.
The package upgrades the shock absorbers, stabilizer bars, suspension bushings and fits new Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires on 21-inch wheels.
Per Tesla's description, the new rear tires are not only 0.8 inches (20 mm) wider, they're slightly staggered to improve acceleration on surfaces with marginal grip.
The $6,500 package requires the customer to order the 21-inch wheel option and, Tesla says, increases range 6 to 12 miles over the standard car with those wheels and improves the ride quality to boot.
Retrofit available too, mostly
Most of the hardware will also be offered to current Model S owners as a retrofit package, starting this summer.
That $13,000 upgrade includes the new upper and lower suspension arms, both fitted with the stiffer bushings, plus the new Michelin tires on the 21-inch wheels: 8.5 inches wide in the front, 9 inches in the back.
It does not, however, include the uprated dampers or the stabilizer bar.
Tesla says the retrofit provides "the majority of the handling benefits without requiring a full suspension removal and replacement, which would be far more costly."
The company won't sell the wider rear wheels and tires separately, it says, because their increased grip requires the stability provided by the revised suspension bushings.
Four other options added
Tesla announced details of the Performance Plus package on April 9, along with four additional options available to European buyers, as it prepares to offer the Model S in European markets.
Those options will likely be offered to U.S. buyers as well over time.
The Cold Weather Package adds an upgraded heater for the battery coolant to boost range and performance in the coldest of weather, along with an "improved defrost" grille, heaters in the cowl and the windshield washer nozzles, and inside, heated seats for the second row as well.
The Security Package adds an overhead intrusion sensor and an alarm siren with a backup battery.
The Park Assist Package installs bumper sensors front and rear, plus software to indicate on the instrument panel and audibly how close the Model S is to adjacent vehicles.
And the Lighting Package, included as standard in the Model S Signature Series, adds additional lighting in the "footwells, door jams [sic], door panels, and storage areas."
Prices were not given for any of the additional packages, and none of them yet appears in the Model S online configurator.