As Predicted, Tesla To Launch All-Wheel-Drive Model S For 2014?

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2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Three months ago, we speculated that Tesla's next product might not be the delayed Model X crossover, but an all-wheel drive version of the Model S.

Guess what? It turns out we might have been right.

Sources for The Verge say a new all-wheel drive Model S could debut as soon as 2014, possibly in a high-performance trim with performance equal to or better than the current range-topper, the 85 kWh Model S Performance.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk had previously denied that an AWD Model S was imminent, speaking at a Tesla store in a country where such a system could be quite popular--Norway. Musk reasoned that "unless you're going to go off-road, I would say you probably don't [need it]."

Tesla already offers a $750 Subzero Weather package for the Model S, incorporating 3-zone rear seat heaters, wiper blade defrosters and washer nozzle heaters. The company says the package is recommended "for climates where temperatures regularly fall well below freezing".

While the Model S works pretty well on snow and ice by the standards of many rear-drive cars, all-wheel drive would still be a popular option for buyers in colder Snowbelt states.

With no front-mounted engine to nudge out of the way as you would in a regular car, and the simplicity of an electric drivetrain, it wouldn't be too difficult to implement. The Model X is proof Tesla is already developing such a system, and adapting it for the sedan probably isn't a huge undertaking.

Nothing is confirmed of course--but such an option would give the Model S an even broader range of talents.

Would the option of all-wheel drive make the Tesla Model S even better? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Comments (37)
  1. "Would the option of all-wheel drive make the Tesla Model S even better? " After much deliberation, I have come to the only conclusion possible - Yes; yes it would ;-)

  2. I don't like the showy doors on the Model X, although I do like the third row of seats. An AWD Model S would be a welcome addition to the exceedingly few AWD EV choices available today.

    Given the weight and power consumption increases, it would be be icing on the cake to see a 110+kWh pack for this type of adventure vehicle (S or X).

    I'm sure all this will happen eventually, just a matter of getting the economics right, as the price of the technology will continue to fall.

  3. I believe this is a great decision. Tesla is making the car more appealing. For those people who needs AWD, it won't be a compromise.

  4. Indeed. Tesla AWD will be especially appealing to those customers who do mountain driving as well as driving in the snow. AWD could also change some Tesla specs: f-ex: 0-60mph; 0-100mph times. Tesla could also implement their own version of torque vectoring as an option for those customers who require the highest in performnace

  5. If they're going to be selling the Model S in countries with high electricity pricing and conservation-minded buyers, they're likely going to be pressured to fix the "vampire" problem reported by David Noland.

  6. Most people use up more gas in traffic every year then it costs for vampire power. An average american uses up 818$ in gasoline being stuck in traffic. Which is around 5x more expensive then the amount of electricity used by vampire power.

    But fixing the issue would help overall. According to Tesla they plan to release a fix to lower it by 50% by end of summer and lower it to 1% by end of the year.

  7. Kinda makes you wonder, how much does it cost?

  8. If you have to ask, you can't afford it :). Probably a $10-15K or more option.

  9. An Internet search of other manufacturers showed this option to be in the $5k to $10k range. As with their other options, I expect Tesla to be cometitive on this one. I also expect this option to take the car's acceleration up a notch. "Honest, honey! What if it snows and stuff?"

  10. Not sure if 4WD really adds that much to modern electronic stabilisation systems but if there are enough people out there who think it does and are willing to pay enough extra for it to make it worth Tesla's while, Tesla should offer it of course.

  11. "modern electronic stabilization" doesn't add power to the other two tires on the 2WD models...

    If you make few drives in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the snow season, you will know what I mean.

    No, it doesn't help you stop faster, but it will help to keep you going.

    Also, when it snows, 2WD cars will require chains on those mountain roads, 4WD cars won't be required of that. So, it is added bonus to those cars...

  12. Note that Elon Musk wasn't too sure about the added value.

  13. Well, isn't it up to the buyers to decide?

    If 5series, S5/S8, E and S class all have this as option, why wouldn't Tesla do the same with better control (electric drives can be much better tuned)?

  14. Many years ago when I used to ride motorcycles (would you believe?!!!) the helmet that I wore only saved my life once though all the years that I wore it. Possibly the all-wheel drive might not be used much even in snowy climates but if it only saves you once then I would say that it would be worth the price!

  15. After driving an Audi A6 Quattro during winter here in the Northwest, I would definitely want the all-wheel-drive version if Tesla were they to offer it.

  16. Think if they put 2 more motors up front how fast it would be ;^D

    It's already beating everything in the sport lux Sedan not only in acceleration, handling but on price too.

    And doing it at 70-90mpg equivalent too. ;^P

  17. @Jerry: Why "2 more motors" up front? There's only one in the back, and I'd be quite surprised if Tesla were to use more than one in front.

  18. Here's a picture of the single-motor drivtrain for the Model X -

    I would expect that the front drive for the Model S will be very similar. It looks like a significant portion of the frunk will also survive.

  19. I also heard that The Model X and the Model S share the same skate board design so it should be easy to add all wheel drive to the Model S since I has been designed all ready for the Model X.I am looking forward to the Gen III hopefully Tesla does not lose focus on bringing the Gen III to market with the success they are having on the Model S. What they need to do is use the profit generated by the Model S to bring the Gen III to market on time. I want to see this car soon since if they push it back another year it only gives the traditional auto makers more time to catch up. Right now all the Traditional auto markers are looking at Electric vehicles because Tesla has been so successful with The Model S. Tesla needs to keep the pressure on

  20. Seems like the R&D would've been better used to bring along the GenIII to get a product to the masses rather than developing such a specialty option.

  21. @Keith: If they're going to sell the Model X, they have to develop the promised AWD system. So the R+D is necessary for that product--and presumably the Model S was designed from the start to accommodate it once engineered. So not a lot of incremental effort, presumably.

  22. @John: Good point on the Model X, I guess I should've had faith in Elon.

  23. AWD would be nice, but would I lose my frunk?

  24. I think AWD would probably consume most of the frunk of the Model S. Here's the Model X AWD skateboard, you can see the front drivetrain, and imagine where that would fit in a Model S.

    Perhaps Tesla can shrink the front drivetrain some more?

  25. Funny thing about that frunk - I have had the car 6 months and I have only used it twice. I guess I am so accustomed to having that space filled with engine that I forget it's there. Nice to have it, but putting another motor and gearbox in there would be nice too.

  26. I live in Quebec, not only we have a long winter with large amount of snow, without forgetting the ice and it is very hilly, so AWD make a huge difference. What will be the range and the cost are an important matter. I am happy to pay extra for an AWD car, today modern AWD do not tax much fuel economy. So now you are talking to me Telsa...

  27. This would be a great option, especially if they implemented it with in-wheel hub motors. There would be a whole bunch of advantages to this. First, since there are no drive train losses, efficiency would go up and you could add maybe 10 to 15% to the battery range. With four separate motors you can do all kinds of torque vectoring, stability stuff that could make the car unmatched in handling and safety. You could have tremendous torque and horsepower available, so improving the acceleration to maybe world leading race car levels. The simplicity of the mechanics would improve and, thus any maintenance would be lowered. Since the motors are out on the wheels, you would have even lower noise levels, not even a trace of an electric whine.

  28. Hub motors transfer mass to the wheels making the suspension less responsive and more difficult to design. They are a bad idea. They also complicate the use of standard disc brakes, which are still required, even with 4WD. That's not to say that 4 motors wouldn't give better traction, just don't try to mount them in the wheels.

  29. A number of friends have the Model S, but, as much as I would like to purchase one I only own cars that are AWD so I'll wait for this upgrade to be implemented! Hope it's soon!

  30. Don't forget that if Elon is ever going to drive from SF Bay Area to Lake Tahoe for some skiing/boarding in his Model S, he won't have to get out to put on chains if he has AWD/4WD in his Model S...

  31. Sure, put a 100 HP motor driving each wheel.

  32. "We speculated...we might have been right...could debut...possibly...nothing is confirmed of course..."

    You're speculating about your speculations. Is there any real news?

  33. Oh dear, I'm not looking forwards to this… Next step is to re-configure the battery and turn up the power to the front wheels to match the rears - sub 4 seconds 0-60 and my Roadster's no longer king of the heap :-(

    Oh well, I couldn't give up the crown to a better successor, an 800+ bhp 5+2 seat sedan.

    I wonder if we'll loose a lot of frank space.

  34. We may just have to stuff Frank in the back jumper seats ;)

  35. I live in Canada, need I say more? With the low centre of gravity of the battery combined with the electric motor and controller over the rear wheels, a good set of winter tires, and all the electronic nannies, Tesla S is probably pretty good in snow. But all wheel drive in Canada means peace of mind when it comes to winter driving. Just ask drivers of Audi, Subie, Jeep, and all those 4x4 pickups etc. The all wheel drive electronic control combined with electric drive would be a formidable weapon in low traction weather and a great marketing tool for Tesla.

  36. I'm guessing the additional customer base that comes with a 4-WD Model S would be small compared with the number of people waiting for the Model X.

    Model X has more seating capability, aggressive tow rating, 3-rd row seating, AND 4-WD. Model X can replace the SUV, minivan, and luxury sedan.

  37. The only reason I have a deposit on the Model X is for AWD; I'd much prefer to get an AWD Model S and would switch my reservation to that in a second.

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