Autos

Tesla's $135,000 Model

Douglas A. McIntyre

Among the media coverage of the new, low-priced Model S 60D, and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warning about Tesla Motors Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) disclose agreements, the company continues to quietly sell the most expensive electric car in the world, the P90D supercar

, which has not gotten much attention since it was launched in December 2015. The high-end Tesla model costs $135,000.

Recently, Tesla has decided to go down market with cheaper cars. The Model 3, priced as low as $35,000, has been ordered by nearly 400,000 people, who are so excited they may wait many months before they get their cars. Tesla has also launched the Model X crossover.

The P90D is at the top of the Model S line. It has a set of features well beyond its cheaper versions. The P90D has a range of 270 miles. It has a 90 kWh engine. In what Tesla calls it “ludicrous” mode, it goes from 0 to 60 MPH in 2.6 seconds, a figure nearly unmatched by any other car available to the public.

The P90D has been compared to the Mercedes 650 HP E63 Bi Turbo AMG, which has a base price of $102,625. It has beaten the Tesla in some races. Among other comparisons, there are the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, BMW M5, Mercedes S65 and Jaguar XJR. All but the Hellcat, which has a 705 HP engine, are luxury cars.

The car the most often compared to the P90D is the BMW i8. It carries a price of $141,695. What BMW does not promote is that it is really not an electric car:

As a plug-in hybrid, the BMW i8 combines an electric motor with a combustion engine for unparalleled power and performance. Launching from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, this vehicle is as efficient as it is dynamic.

The all-electric motor is situated on the front axle, while the TwinPower Turbo 3-cylinder engine drives the rear axle. When combined, these two elements deliver an innovative all-wheel drive sports car with a total system output of 357 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque as well as an added electrical boost inherent to eDrive vehicles.

A car close enough to electric, but hardly one that can claim the honor.

The P90D has been lost in the fog of all the other Tesla models, a supercar barely noticed.

Correction:  The battery is what is rated at 90 kWh (or 90 kilowatt x hour), not the engine.There are two engines in the P90D, rated at 503 hp rear and 259 hp front.