Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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Tesla Changes Model S Line Up Again – Risks Alienating Current Owners in Quest to Lure New Ones

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“I’m begining to fear the announcement everytime Elon Musk steps up to the microphone” to paraphrase a member of the Tesla Fans of Atlanta Face Book page. And they are right.

What happened today?  Tesla announced three ‘upgrades’ to its product line

1). A revised Model S 70, now offering a ‘lower price’ single motor version of the vehicle and rolled back the base pricing to $70,000; identical to what it sold the outgoing Model S 60 for just 100 days ago.  Apparently jumping the base price to $75,000 to include Dual Motors (aka 70D) and supercharging did little for the base model sales.  So Tesla appears to have beat a hasty retreat to its single motor, Rear Wheel Drive platform.  Tesla is working hard to get it’s entry priced Model S below the $80,000 price point with the most popular options.

2). An upgraded 85 kWh battery to 90 kWh. The upgrade may foreshadow the battery pack for the forthcoming Model X where towing capacity of 10,000 pounds and 7 passengers is requiredTo appease recent 85/85D buyers, Tesla is offering a $3,000 upgrade (plus installation) for the slightly longer range battery, cleverly expressed as a “7% increase in range” which translates to 18 additional EV miles.

No such upgrade was offered to late buying 60 owners* who could increase range from 208 to 230 miles. One Atlanta Tesla owner noted “on my last trip I averaged 221 miles between charges.” That would be a meaningful upgrade for a Model S 60 owner**.

3). Addition of the Ludicrous Speed feature for $13,000 to reduce 0-60 time from 3.1 seconds to 2.8 seconds.  The base 70 Model S goes from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, the 85 5.4 seconds and the P85D 3.1 seconds, which was labeled “Insane” mode.  Why does a 4,500 lb car need 0-60 in under 3 seconds? And it requires both the $10,000 Ludicrous and $3,000 Range Upgrade Packages. On a per second basis, that is a $43,333! ($13,000/.3 seconds)

Tesla owners, as expressed by several members of the Atlanta Facebook group, are becoming wary of ‘upgrades’ which depreciate their already expensive vehicles.  Others express willingness to dump the last version of their Model S or pay for upgrades to get the newest features, and bragging rights.

Elon Musk describes Tesla as a car that just keeps getting better: cleaner grid, software updates, battery upgrades.  But if current owners cannot ‘pay to play’ to get the upgrades, then he is not truly fulfilling that promise. Buying one $100,000 car is a huge sacrifice. I am all for upgrades but with access to them by current owners. That would truly make Tesla and the Model S (and Model X and Model III to come) a truly revolutionary motor car company.

* Full disclosure:  I took delivery of a 2015 Tesla Model S 60 with full knowledge of the Model 70D.  The option to re-order with a 70 kWh battery without the dual motor (and loss of the very useable Frunk) was not available. Just 100 days later that option is available and I have asked Tesla representatives to consider offering a 70 kWh battery upgrade on the same terms as 85 kWh owners can do so.

** Owner has an 85 kWh battery  with a 265 mile rated range.  On a comparably equipped basis, the new 70 is $2,000 less than my 60 as Super Charging is now included in the base price versus being a $2,000 option back in March when ordered.

Author: Jeff Cohen, Founder, Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition and Georgia EVentures, LLC

I am an "EVangelist" who wants you to experience the joys of driving and owning electric vehicles. I currently own a 2015 Tesla Model S 60, and have owned/leased a 2015 Nissan LEAF and 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet VOLTs. I maintain two Wordpress blogs: an EV information focused blog (AtlantaEVDC.com) and an EV Rental blog (gaeventures.com) and Facebook page (facebook.com/gaeventures) and three Twitter Sites: @JBCMKTR (personal), @AtlantaEV and @GAEVentures and JBCMKTR on Instagram.

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