Beginning last month, Tesla Model S owners started noticing a couple of new driver aids being equipped on recently-built vehicles. The lane departure warning system and speed assist are the first steps towards autonomous Teslas, and the electric automaker finally put out an official statement regarding the addition of these new features.
Here’s the official statement from Tesla:
Starting recently, some Model S being delivered in North America come equipped with two new features. The features are lane drift detection, which will deliver a warning via vibration in the steering wheel if the driver starts to drift from the lane without signaling, and speed limit display, which will inform the driver of the speed limit and alert them when it is exceeded. These features are necessary to meet the latest standards in the European market, but we have decided to integrate them into Model S delivered worldwide.
While I already covered the addition of driver assistance features to the Model S, tomorrow Tesla is suspected to announce the first wave or nearly autonomous car features. Musk has gone on record as saying a 90% “autopilot” Model S could be sold as soon as next year. More revealing though is the statement that Tesla has decided to add lane departure and speed assist to every market Model S. Many conventional automakers cherry pick features based on market regulations, which is why for example the European market Chevy Camaro gets LED taillights, but North American versions don’t. It comes down to different regulations, and even though LEDs are superior to conventional bulbs, GM saves a couple of bucks per car by not equipping North American models with them.
Tesla however has decided to simply add these features to every Model S, regardless of where its sold. That’s not to say certain markets don’t still get certain features; Tesla has upped the top speed of the Model S in Germany so drivers feel more at home on the Autobahn, where triple-digit speeds are sometimes allowed, and the cold weather package is standard equipment in Norway, where the Model S is a best seller.
Elon Musk obviously wants to make a play at the autonomous car market via the Model S, of which these two features are just a small part. It’s already been surmised that tomorrow an all-wheel drive Tesla Model S “D” will debut, and there’s a second secret surprise that many people seem to think as to do with more self-driving car features. We’ll find out in less than a day.