2015 Tesla Model S P85D, May 2015 [photo: George Parrott]
Perhaps no car company today is as good at the extended tease as California electric-car maker Tesla Motors.
Whether it's tweets from CEO Elon Musk, fervent fan speculation on few facts, or mainstream-media coverage based on incomplete knowledge and misunderstanding, the tiny carmaker gets huge media attention.
Now, a comment tweeted to Musk by a software hacker may have revealed the company's next high-end performance version of its Model S electric luxury sport sedan.
As laid out on electric-car site Electrek, the saga begins with software hacker Jason Hughes, whose latest project is to hack into and dissect the operating system of the Model S.
(Hughes had previously used two salvaged Model S battery packs to create a home energy-storage array for his house, before Tesla announced its Powerwall products.)
Rather than posting to his usual thread on Tesla Motors Club, Hughes tweeted CEO Musk about his latest discovery.
When it launched in 2012, the Model S was offered with battery packs of 40, 60, and 85 kilowatt-hours.
The smallest pack never went into production due to lack of demand, and the upper two Model S versions have now been replaced with packs of 70 and 90 kwh, respectively--matching those in the Model X utility vehicle.
So, as Elektrek suggests, Tesla fans are already anticipating the next pack upgrade for the Model S.
ALSO SEE: Tesla Model S Gets New 90-kWh Battery, 'Ludicrous' Performance Mode (Jul 2015)
While the tweet may look like gibberish to some, coders will recognize how to decode what appears to be a hashed hexadecimal string. (Full disclosure: We're taking Hughes' word for it.)
The answer is that the string translates to "P100D," presumably indicating a future 100-kwh battery pack for the Model S.
Rather than change the styling, body panels, or other aspects of its first volume car, Tesla has upgraded both its software capabilities and the energy capacity of its packs.
2015 Tesla Model S P85D with Ludicrous badge added [photo: George Parrott]
Later additions by Hughes noted that Tesla had included a mention of a P100D in a Model S firmware upgrade as early as two months ago.
Even faster performance comes as a side effect of the latter, along with some hardware upgrades to allow the car's mechanicals to take higher rates of power delivered by the larger packs.
And, as some Tesla fans suggested, a 100-kwh pack could conceivably push at least one version of the Tesla Model S over the magic 300-mile mark for EPA-rated range.
Such a version likely wouldn't be the highest-performance version of a future P100D, which would use a more powerful rear electric motor if past practice holds.
Of course, such a potential hot-rod version of a P100D poses its own question: What would the performance mode be named?
That is, the P85D had "Insane" mode, and the P90D surpassed that with "Ludicrous" mode ... so what's beyond Ludicrous?
Tesla Model S P90D pulls away from P85D on California drag strip, Oct 2015 [video: Danilo Crudele]
It's possible that Musk may provide more news about future upgrades to the Model S on March 31, when the company unveils its 200-mile, $35,000 Tesla Model 3 mass-market vehicle.
Or not. With Tesla, almost anything is possible.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]