Say what you will about the Tesla, there’s no denying the appeal of the sexy electric Model S. For too many would-be buyers, however, the starting price has been just out of reach.
Tesla, in its infinite wisdom, saw the benefit to reintroducing a cheaper version (actually, two) of the popular Model S. On June 9, Tesla introduced two versions that begin at $66,000 and $71,000, respectively. Both, says Tesla, offer more than 200 miles of all-electric range.
Size (of Battery) Does Matter
For those picky about details, the battery size of the two less-expensive Model S models, the “60” and “60D”, will use a 60-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The “D” indicates the all-wheel drive variant of the two.
Of course, that is the same size as the base model Model S – before it received a fall update last year to a 70-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery. That battery now is in the process of being updated yet again, this time to a 75-kWh pack. That’s the same battery pack that’s in the Tesla Model X electric SUV.
Diving deeper, it appears that the less-expensive Model S versions actually use the 75-kWh battery pack, but the caveat is that they’re software-limited to only provide the range of the 60-kWh pack.
Customers who opt for one of the two cheaper Model S versions can later decide they want the upgraded battery pack – it’s just a software update – but the after-the-fact choice will cost $9,000 (according to the Tesla website).
Other Particulars of the Less-Expensive Model S Variants
The 2016 Tesla Model 60 boasts a top speed of 130 miles per hour and has a range of 210 miles. Zero to 60 miles per hour acceleration is 5.5 seconds. The all-wheel drive version, the 60D, has a range of 218 miles and the same 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds, according to specs on the Tesla website.
Both of the less-expensive Model S versions have the same safety features, including the hands-free Autopilot hardware, that are standard in the higher-priced Model S versions.
The announcement from Tesla about the two cheaper Model S versions comes before the availability of the entry-level Model 3 – a more affordable electric sedan – in the fall as a 2017 model. Prices for the Model 3 start at around $35,000.
In the interim, and for those customers who lust after a Tesla Model S, now may be the time to get behind the wheel and drive one home.