Beware these Halloween health risks
While a good scare has surprising health benefits, Halloween arrives with some health risks. Kids dressed as zombies and teenagers in masks don’t scare you? Here are the real health hazards to fear come Halloween night.
Excessive Candy Consumption
Halloween is the high point of the year for the millions of Americans who love candy. Americans are expected to spend $2.5 billion on candy this Halloween, according to the National Confectioners Association. That money goes straight to the trick-or-treating bags of millions of kids, who collect an average of 3,500 to 7,000 calories on Halloween night, according to University of Alabama at Birmingham public health professor Donna Arnett. It’s hard to say how much of children eat, but the average 13-year-old boy would need to walk more than 100 miles to burn off those candy calories.
Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A child pedestrian is four times more likely to die on Halloween than any other day. Many more are injured. Child safety advocate Janette Fennell suggests trick-or-treating in groups and taping reflective tape to costumes to stay safe on the road. As always, pedestrians should cross streets at corners and look carefully before walking.
Holidays are often the riskiest days to be on the road, and Halloween is no exception. The last time the holiday fell on a weekend, in 2011, 74 people died in drunk driving incidents, compared to about 27 people on an average day. Because Halloween falls on a Friday this year, your chances of encountering a drunk driver on the road may be especially high. That may not be reason enough to avoid the roads entirely, but watch for drivers that seem out of control. Of course, don’t drink if you need to drive yourself.
It may sound far-fetched, but law enforcement officials in Colorado are warning parents to look out for candy that may be laced with marijuana. So-called edibles are legal in the state for adults over age 21, but local officials fear that young kids may wind up with some of the substance in their trick-or-treat bags. Marijuana-laced candy appears and tastes like other candy, so Denver police recommend that parents toss any candy that isn’t clearly packaged from a recognizable brand.
Workers who drive a lot for business can write off the costs. These three tools can make tracking those miles on the road easier.
More than 40 million Americans earn money while driving around in their cars, making them eligible for a valuable business mileage deduction from the Internal Revenue Service.
At 56¢ a mile, less than two business miles equals a dollar. So for someone driving 25,000 business miles a year, $14,000 in deductions is at stake.
Keeping an accurate mileage log used to be an arduous task involving a notepad and paper, but most people do not bother with the work. Many recreate their trips after the fact. Some just make it up. Do it wrong and you could get an audit.
“Getting a lot of round numbers means people either aren’t tracking or are rounding,” says P.J. Wallin, 33, a certified public account from Richmond, Virginia.
Bill Nemeth, an enrolled agent who represents clients in IRS audits, says most of his clients tend to exaggerate their business mileage and, when audited, it can be challenge to try to prove they actually drove the miles. Nemeth says he even uses Carfax reports from cars that clients have sold in order to document the actual mileage of the vehicles. In more than 25 years of doing taxes, Nemeth can recall only one client who presented a log that was clearly used daily.
MileIQ, which sells a GPS device that helps track mileage, surveyed about 1,000 of its users and found that only 36% of them had kept a written log previously. Another 18% admitted to making up numbers after the fact, 15% said they did nothing with their mileage, and 11% said they used their calendars to go back and recreate driving distances.
But in today’s highly automated world, apps and standalone GPS devices take the work out of the process, so there are no more excuses. Prices and functions vary, and some personal preference is involved.
Here are three different approaches – all of which are tax-deductible as a work expense.
This iPhone app (scheduled to be out soon for Androids) promises to be more automated than its cousins—always running in the background. It costs $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year. Lighter drivers, however, can use it for free. Users can log 40 drives a month before they would have to take a paid subscription, so you can take it for a test drive.
The idea is that the app does most of the work, although eventually users have to look over the results and eliminate listings that were not for business. Data from the app is regularly uploaded to the cloud, and reports sent automatically via email. Users can also customize the data.
MileIQ co-founder Charles Dietrich says the app actually learns from patterns and increasingly knows when a trip is of the reimbursable sort and when it is not.
This device, which costs $149, is a small GPS tracking device you leave in your car. When you start a drive, press a button to note the trip is either work or personal. It will document the date and time of your travels, where you started, where you went and the distance. You can dump the data from the device onto your computer using a USB cord.
At $2.99, EasyBiz Mileage Tracker is a cheaper app option, but not quite as automated as the others. Instead, it relies on the user to create what is basically a computer-assisted mileage log – starting and stopping each trip, while it notes the location and the distance via GPS.
Mileage Tracker allows users to customize report printing and add other entries – like tolls, for instance – that could come in handy when doing mileage reports.
Fiat Chrysler set to spin the brand off into a separate, independent company
Ferrari might be the car all people, even the strident non-gearheads, would love to be able to take out for a spin. Executives at the Italian automaker will be taking their company out for a spin next year, it was announced today, as Fiat Chrysler is spinning the brand off into an independent company.
Ferrari will also IPO, with a 10% stake in the company hitting the markets. The remaining 90% will be distributed among FCA shareholders, according to Reuters. Ferrari will likely list in both New York and on a European exchange. The spinoff and IPO is part of Fiat Chrysler’s attempt to grow by 48-billion euro ($61 billion).
“As we move forward to secure the 2014-2018 Business Plan and work toward maximizing the value of our businesses to our shareholders, it is proper that we pursue separate paths for FCA and Ferrari,” FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made its Wall Street debut earlier this month, shifting the carmaker’s center of gravity away from Italy and capping a decade of canny dealmaking and tough restructuring by Marchionne.
The world’s seventh-largest auto group has sought the U.S. listing to help to establish itself as a leading global player through access to the world’s biggest equity market and the cheaper, more reliable source of funding it ultimately offers.
This car's engine, differential, suspension, and automatic transmission all add up to one heck of a driving experience.+ READ ARTICLE
BMW’s new M3 4-door is technically called a sedan, as in a family car. Which it is, if you have the kind of family that enjoys slingshotting out of curves at 60 m.p.h. The M3 is to sedans what the German four-man Olympic bobsled is to your kids’ Flexible Flyer.
Understand that this is a driver’s car in every aspect, which you’d expect out of a division created to produce race cars to compete on the European touring circuit. The low, sloping hood seems to bury its face into the asphalt that you are chewing up. And you can set the M3’s controls for a variety of engine, steering, and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) combinations so that you can feel everything that’s happening around you any way you wish. The optional dual-clutch transmission adds three mode variables to play with. But all of the settings seem designed with one thing in mind, to urge you forward.
That begins, natch, with the power plant. There was some anxiety among Beemer buddies when the engine specs of the M3 and its coupe cousin, the M4, were revealed. BMW has chosen a 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder number to replace a beefier 4.0L V-8. But as is typical today, engine designers are coaxing more oomph out of smaller packages, which also means less weight: the I-6 gets 424 h.p., which is a 10-horse improvement. But the torque really jumps, in part because the M3 has twin turbochargers that are configured to chime in on demand. Pair that with a seamless, dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic version and the M3 means giddy passing power at any speed.
Then there’s the M Differential. Have to admit, I’ve been indifferent to differentials. Every car has one, but to the undifferentiated, let me explain: A differential is a thingamajig on the axle that uses a set of pinion gears (never mind) to change the rotational speed of a tire. It’s necessary because when you go into a left-hand curve, say, the outside right rear tire will be going faster than the inside one because it’s covering a longer distance. The differential distributes the engine torque equally to the two rear wheels, leveling the rotational speed so you aren’t burning out tires or veering off kilter.
The M3’s differential takes that basic tool and loads it with sensors that measure a range of variables such as yaw, torque, lateral acceleration, and driving speed, sniffing the ground to look for more speed and stability. When the M3 is doing this as you are entering a curve it is inevitably whispering in your ear, “Forget the brake; I’ll handle this.” And you find yourself leaving your foot on the accelerator thinking, “Yes, this makes perfect sense.”
In addition to the M Diff, there’s also a $1,000 option called Adaptive M suspension. You have the choice of Comfort, Sport, or Sport Plus, depending on how tuned into the road you want to be. According to the company, sensors are recalculating and regulating the dampers every 2.5 milliseconds at each wheel to apply the precise amount of damping. At the same time, the DSC automatic transmission has settings for three different driving modes: Efficient, Sport, and Sport Plus, as in fast, faster and Messerschmitt. The settings correspond to the response of the accelerator. In Efficient, it’s a smoother takeoff; in Sport Plus it’s more reactive. There’s even a race setting called Launch Mode that allows you to hammer the throttle from an idle position to full power.
The M3 has a race car look about it, too, with flared fender skirts, a carbon roof, and, on the inside, that combination of hard-and-soft, steel-and-leather luxury.
A car loaded with this much technology has an Apple-like premium. Although the basic price on the M3 is about $63,000, the bells and whistles add up quickly. In addition to the $1,000 Active M suspension, the M Double clutch automatic adds $2,900, and the carbon ceramic brakes $8,150 more. My test car revved in at $84,000, including the $550 “Yas Marina Blue” metallic paint job that people tend to really like or really hate.
Count me on the “like” side on the paint job; as for the M3 itself, I like it a lot. A whole lot.
But you may still feel like you're paying more. Here's why.
Gas prices have been plunging lately. For consumers, that’s great! It’s more money in your pocket.
Gas now averages $3.07 a gallon nationwide, down from $3.60 in June and $3.30 a year ago. That’s billions of dollars of savings for U.S. households.
But gasoline is one of the few products whose prices we vividly remember. Behavioral economist Daniel Ariely once explained:
For the several minutes that I stand at the pump, all I do is stare at the growing total on the meter — there is nothing else to do. I have time to remember how much it cost a year ago, two years ago, and even six years ago.
Gas may be cheaper today than it was a year or two ago, but I’ve heard several people recently say, “Sure, but I remember when it was $1.50 a gallon!” That nostalgia makes us think we’re still paying a fortune at the pump.
But several other things have changed lately that affect the real price of gasoline:
- The average car has a much better fuel economy today than it used to.
- The average American is driving less than they used to.
- Average nominal wages are higher today than they used to be.
You have to adjust for all three improvements to show the true price of gas, and the real impact it has on our wallets.
When you do, the real price of gas is lower today than it was a decade ago, and about the same as it was in the early 1990s:
One of the most important forces in economics is that people adapt. And that’s what you’re seeing here.
Gas prices surged in the early 2000s, so auto companies started building more fuel-efficient cars, which consumers demanded (as did new regulations).
Fuel-efficient cars used to be dinky little toys that you’d be embarrassed to drive. That’s changing. GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. GM 1.6248% CEO Mary Barra commented last month: “The customer has that expectation. It’s not an ‘or’, it’s an ‘and.’ They’re expecting to have winning vehicles, but also to have the fuel efficiency. It becomes a business priority.”
Consider: A 1999 Chevy Suburban got 18 miles per gallon and had 290 horsepower. A 2015 Suburban gets 23 miles per gallon with 355 horsepower.
High gas prices also likely played a role in pushing families from the suburbs into the cities, where commutes are shorter. As Reuters reports: “In 2010, a total of 80.7 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, up from 79 percent in 2000. Conversely, 19.3 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas in 2010, down from 21 percent in 2000.”
I’m not a fan of forecasts, because they’re pretty much all wrong. But here goes: Over the next 20 years we’ll see moderately higher gas prices combined with much better fuel economy. Taken together, this chart — with all its adjustments — won’t look too much different two decades from now than it does today.
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” Stephen Hawking said. And we are.
For more on this topic:
- 50 reasons we’re living through the greatest period in history
- When America stopped driving
- The most important numbers of the next half-century
It seems like every other day, news breaks about a recall on millions of cars that, if left unaddressed, could prove deadly. Here's what consumers can do to ensure their safety.
There are two months left in the year, but 2014 has already broken the record for most auto recalls ever. As of October, automakers had issued recalls for an estimated all-time-high of 56 million vehicles in the U.S. “To put that in perspective, automakers have now recalled more than three times the number of new cars and trucks Americans will buy this year,” the Detroit Free Press noted.
The flurry of recalls has come fast and furiously in 2014. This week, Toyota issued a recall on roughly 250,000 vehicles in the U.S. related to faulty airbags, on top of a global recall of 1.7 million Toyotas for a wide range of safety defects that circulated last week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists 29 separate auto manufacturer recalls thus far in the month of October, and the agency released a special consumer advisory this week, alerting the owners of 7.8 million vehicles that they should take “immediate action” to replace dangerously defective airbags.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. General Motors recalled 2.7 million vehicles last May, less than one month after the automaker announced it had spent $1.3 billion to recall 7 million vehicles worldwide, including 2.6 million for faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths. Ford recalled 700,000 vehicles last spring because of concerns the airbags wouldn’t deploy quickly enough, while some 16 million vehicles from 10 automakers have been recalled because the airbags, made by the Japanese company Takata, could inflate with explosive force strong enough to hurt or even kill the riders the devices are designed to save in the case of an accident. And on and on.
The numbers are so big, and the recalls pop up with such frequency, that you might be inclined to tune them out—not unlike the hacks and data breaches that occur with astonishing regularity at major retailers. But then, you know … there’s death and catastrophic injury. The potential of anything so dire affecting you and your loved ones should make you snap to attention and take action. Here are steps to take to stay safe:
For a Car You Own
When a car is subject to a safety recall, the automaker is required to notify vehicle owners via mail. The letter will feature the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) emblem and include the words “SAFETY RECALL NOTICE” in large typeset. Hopefully that’s enough to alert recipients that this isn’t junk mail. The notification will include instructions, typically consisting of the need to bring the vehicle into a local dealership and have the recalled issue fixed. The service should be provided free of charge to the owner.
You might assume that service departments would drag their feet on handling such recalls—customers aren’t paying money out of pocket after all—but a Reuters story from this past summer pointed out that the recalls represent opportunity for car dealerships. Recalls bring in new customers, or bring back customers that haven’t been at the dealership since they bought the car, and when they bring the recalled vehicle in to be serviced, they may be inclined to get the oil changed or have some other work done. Heck, many have been known to browse showrooms while waiting for their old cars to be fixed, where they wind up getting talked into buying new cars. The takeaway for consumers is: Don’t allow yourself to be upsold into a costly service job when you’re at the dealership getting a recall issue addressed, and don’t buy a new car unless it’s truly the model you want, at the price you want.
To make sure that your car is safe, the NHTSA offers a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) search feature online. Enter your VIN—which is displayed on the dashboard of the driver’s side is most easily seen looking through the windshield from outside—and you can find out if your car has been recalled anytime over the past 15 years, as well as whether or not the recall has been repaired on your specific vehicle. Unfortunately, the government site can be glitchy (the VIN search function has been listed as “temporarily unavailable” lately). If it’s not working—or even if it is and you want to be doubly careful—head to Carfax.com, which also allows people to look up recall issues for specific cars using VINs at no charge. For yet another option, the NHTSA allows you to sign up for email alerts for recalls on up to five vehicles, as well as alerts regarding any recalls of car seats and tires.
For a Car You Might Buy
Before buying a used car, do some due diligence on recalls. Carfax estimates that 3.5 million used cars were listed for sale last year with unfixed safety recalls. Get the VIN of the specific used car you’re interested in, and follow the steps above to make sure that any recall has been addressed. If it hasn’t, make the owner fix it before you buy—or use the fact that the repair hasn’t been made as a reason to cut the asking price. If you wind up closing the deal, don’t forget to bring the car into a local dealership to get the recall fixed asap.
For a Car You Might Rent
A bill currently under consideration in Congress called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 would allow agencies to rent cars that have been subject to recalls only if the defects have been fixed. In other words, as of now, it’s vaguely legal for the Hertzes and Enterprises of the world to rent recalled cars even if the recall hasn’t been addressed. In fact, in recent years, some major agencies have tried to make the case that it’s OK to continue to rent recalled vehicles to customers because some recalls are unimportant, as they don’t qualify as serious safety risks.
USA Today columnist Bill McGee investigated the murky world of recalls and rental cars this past summer. What he found is that agencies generally proactively remove vehicles from their fleets or have them fixed pronto if they’ve been subject to dangerous, high-profile recalls—failure to do so could expose them to millions in lawsuits if an accident occurred due to an unfixed recall. Hertz and Avis, among others, have said that coping with recalls has cost their companies millions of dollars this year, because when recalled vehicles are being fixed at dealerships they obviously can’t be rented out to customers.
But again, until the Safe Rental Car Act—named for two sisters who died in 2004 in a rental car with power steering fluid recall that hadn’t been fixed—is passed into law (hardly a done deal), agencies aren’t obligated to have all car recalls addressed before renting them out. “Currently, there is no prohibition on rental car companies renting vehicles that are under a recall, but have not yet been remedied,” a former NHTSA administrator named David Strickland testified to Congress last year.
What can a renter do to stay safe? Start by clarifying your agency’s policy. Alamo, for instance, states plainly, “We do not rent recalled vehicles until the recall has been remedied.” But information regarding recalls can be vague or hard to find with some other rental operators. If the policy is remotely unclear, call and ask questions.
You can also use the NHTSA’s database to see if the vehicle model you have reserved has been recalled, but this strategy comes with complications. For one thing, rental agencies generally don’t guarantee a specific model with a reservation—you reserve a “mid-size” category of vehicle, not a Toyota Camry or whatever. What’s more, it’s impossible to know a car’s specific VIN until you pick the vehicle up, and therefore it’s impossible to check if the model’s recall problems have been fixed. In light of these problems, you might want to make another call—to your local representative in Congress, to urge support of the Safe Rental Car Act.
Among the trickle-down effects of cheaper gas prices are lower sales totals for alternative-fuel cars—which in turn have forced automakers to slash prices on these vehicles.
USA Today just reported that Ford is cutting the sticker price of the fully battery-powered plug-in Focus Electric by a flat $6,000. That’s on top of a $4,000 price reduction on the same vehicle a year ago. The new sticker price is $29,995 including shipping—but not including federal tax credits of up to $7,500 and state incentives that might effectively knock another $2,500 off the amount buyers pay.
Obviously, Ford wouldn’t be instituting such dramatic price cuts if the Focus Electric was selling well, and part of the reason sales have been poor is that the model doesn’t stand out in an increasingly crowded field of midlevel-priced plug-ins where the Nissan Leaf, the pioneer in the category, remains the indisputable leader. Another reason for underwhelming sales of the Focus Electric—and for many alternative-fuel cars in general, for that matter—is simply that gas prices have been getting cheaper and cheaper.
According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the national average for a gallon of regular was just under $3.10 on Tuesday, compared with $3.35 a year ago and around $3.70 this past spring. Gas prices for the year as a whole are down slightly compared with 2013, and projections call for continued lower prices in 2015. All of which hurts automakers’ efforts to convince buyers that it’s a savvy move to pay a premium over a standard gas-powered vehicle for a hybrid or electric car right now, with the anticipation that they’d more than make up the difference later on in the form of savings on gas.
To help sales, automakers have been trying mightily to make the difference in price between alternative-fuel cars and their traditional car counterparts disappear. Nissan slashed the price of the Leaf in early 2013, effectively bringing the takeaway price of the vehicle under the $20,000 mark. Leaf sales have been strong throughout 2014, up 23% year over year thus far. Ford Focus Electric sales are up in the U.S. as well, with September units sold up 60% compared with the same month last year. Even so, we’re talking about extremely small numbers: 176 Focus Electrics sold last month, versus only 110 for September 2013.
What’s especially noteworthy is that the combination of lower gas prices and increasingly fuel-efficient internal-combustion engine cars appears to be putting the squeeze in particular on hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius. According to Toyota data, 14,277 Priuses were sold in the U.S. last month, compared with 15,890 for September 2013. For the year thus far, Prius sales are down 11.4% compared with the same period a year ago—and mind you, this slump took place a time when Toyota sales overall are up 5.7%. By far the worst-performing Prius has been the plug-in PHV; only 353 sold in September, a decline of 71% versus the same month a year ago (1,152). As for hybrid sales overall, a total of 31,385 units sold in the U.S. in September 2014, a decrease of 35% from the previous month, and a decline of 6.5% from the same month in 2013.
Bear in mind that the hybrid sales slump has occurred while automakers have gotten more aggressive with discounts. As Automotive News lately noted about the struggles of alternative-fuel cars:
Data from KBB.com show that Toyota boosted Prius incentives to $2,300 per vehicle in September from $1,400 a year ago while Ford ramped up C-Max spiffs to $4,900 from $2,650 per vehicle in the same period; neither move helped sales.
So cheaper gas prices benefit drivers not only in terms of the obvious—cheaper gas prices—but also because they’re forcing automakers to slash prices on hybrids and electric cars that boast savings on gas as a primary sales pitch.
Roughly 10 years from now we will see the End of Human Driving — a seminal moment of the first half of the 21st century. I’m guessing my young sons will not need to learn how to drive
This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Sam Shank shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Sam Shank and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.
I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of technology replacing human drivers.
Let’s be honest: people aren’t always great drivers. They get distracted, tired and make mistakes. Technology can simply do a better job. This is a subject I’ve thought about deeply for the past 20 years. I believe it will have as much impact on the world as the switch from horse transport to automobiles.
The consensus opinion is that safe and reliable driverless cars will be available within a few years. Tesla just announced “Autopilot,” which will be available soon via a software update, and will allow for autonomous driving on freeways – an amazing first step.
Here’s what I think will happen next: the initial use of drive-anywhere autonomous cars (I call them AutoCars) will be with companies like Uber or Lyft rather than individually owned. They will rapidly gain acceptance because they’ll save people time (imagine all you could do with that time currently spent behind the wheel), will lower the costs of getting from one place to another, and will be way faster while also being safer than human driving.
Soon thereafter, as adoption skyrockets, cities will designate areas that are AutoCar-only. Lanes of highways will become AutoCar-exclusive, allowing for more density of driving and far higher speeds. Roughly 10 years from now we will see the End of Human Driving – a seminal moment of the first half of the 21st century. I’m guessing my young sons will not need to learn how to drive — but I’ll probably teach them anyway, as recreational driving is fun and won’t ever go away, any more than automobiles put an end to recreational horse riding.
The benefits of AutoCars are so pronounced across many areas – health, saved time, mobility of kids and seniors, lower road costs, efficiency – all of which I’d love to explore in future posts.
But what I think may be the biggest impact will be on our physical landscape. It always strikes me as interesting that the physical landscape hasn’t changed all that much in decades, despite the fact that the way we work and communicate has changed dramatically thanks to information technology. Sure, buildings have more glass and cars have more rounded edges, but if you compare two photos from 50 years ago and today, it’s often hard to spot much difference in the landscape (besides a few outfit choices and smartphones).
With the AutoCar, our urban landscape is set to change in massive and wonderful ways. Certain fixtures will become obsolete, like parking garages, road signs, street parking and traffic lights. For most people, garages will be as anachronistic as stables, and will be reclaimed for more productive uses like extra bedrooms, playrooms or exercise rooms. Saying goodbye to these items will free considerable resources to reduce housing costs and improve quality of life.
And new urban designs and systems will be invented that leverage the flexibility of the AutoCar: providing transportation on demand, but getting out of the way when not needed. Apartments may have drive-throughs like at airports for embarking and disembarking from AutoCars. And micro-traffic tunnels will tuck AutoCars out of sight, much like the delivery vehicles of Disney World are all underground. Is it possible to make the surface streets on the island of Manhattan 100 percent car-free? I bet it will be debated before the end of the next decade.
Information technology is set to impact our physical world, and I am optimistic that the result will be vibrant cities and suburbs more wonderful than we can even imagine.
What do you predict AutoCars will change the most in your life?
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The base price is $120,000+ READ ARTICLE
HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) — Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveiled a new version of the luxury electric car maker’s Model S sedan that includes all-wheel drive and self-driving “auto pilot” features.
The open-to-the-public event Thursday night included free alcohol and test rides on an airport tarmac.
With more than 1,000 Tesla fans in the audience, Musk explained that the current Model S is a rear-wheel-drive car with one motor, but a new version will have two motors — one powering the front wheels and one powering the rear wheels.
All-wheel drive helps grip slippery roads and is standard on many luxury sedans. Analysts have said Tesla needed it to boost sales in the Northeast and Midwest, as well as Europe.
The company sold 13,850 cars in the U.S. this year through September, down 3 percent from a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.
Unlike all-wheel-drive systems on gas-powered cars, Tesla’s system improves speed, acceleration and mileage by optimizing which motor is used, Musk said.
The dual motor version of the P85 performance sedan will have a top speed of 155 mph, compared with the current 130 mph. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, akin to exotic sports cars.
“This car is nuts. It’s like taking off from a carrier deck,” Musk said at the municipal airport near Los Angeles where another of Musk’s companies — the commercial rocket firm SpaceX — is based. The crowd obliged with cheers and applause.
Tesla is also significantly upgrading its safety features through a combination of radar, image-recognition cameras and sonar.
The Model S will right itself if it wanders from its lane and brake automatically if it is about to hit something. Those features are offered on luxury competitors, as well as mainstream brands such as Ford, Hyundai and Toyota.
But Tesla is going a step further. Its new system will move the car over a lane when the driver uses the turn signal. It will also use cameras to read speed limit signs and decelerate accordingly. Volvo has a system that reads signs and alerts drivers if they are over the limit but does not change the speed.
Musk said “auto pilot” does not mean the car could drive itself — as he put it, a driver cannot “safely fall asleep.”
Pulling together all the driver-assist features impressed Brian A. Johnson, an analyst with Barclay’s. “It’s a year ahead of the timeframe I was expecting,” he said.
Raj Rajkumar, a pioneer of self-driving cars with Carnegie Mellon University, also was impressed but wondered how the “auto-pilot” would perform in different weather and road conditions.
The dual motor will be a $4,000 option on the base and mid-range Model S, which start at $71,000. The base price of the P85 with all-wheel drive — which will be known as P85D — is $120,000.
Associated Press Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed.