In the world of consumer electronics, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has pulled off a marketing feat with iOS devices that no other competitor has been able to. The Mac maker obfuscates as many technical specifications as it possibly can, instead preferring to shift consumer focus to performance improvements and the overall experience of the device. It once would have seemed impossible to sell a gadget without marketing the processor's clock speed, or how much memory it contained.
"Do you know the speed of an A-X processor?" Apple CEO Tim Cook once said. "Does it really matter at the end of the day? You want a fabulous experience when you use the product." Of course, this information can be discovered later by those that are so inclined, but Cook is right: It simply doesn't matter for most average consumers.
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is now looking to take a page out of Apple's playbook with the Model 3.
"Stuff should just work"
Range is the most important specification for an electric vehicle (EV). Tesla is shifting its marketing strategy to emphasize range on the Model 3. The Standard version starts at 220 miles and the Long Range upgrade ($9,000) bumps that up to 310 miles.
Nowhere does Tesla disclose the actual size of the Model 3 battery pack, a stark contrast to the Model S and Model X, whose trim levels are based on the kWh capacity. Most indications suggest that that Standard Model 3 battery pack will be somewhere from 50 kWh to 60 kWh, with the Long Range version having somewhere between 70 kWh and 80 kWh.
Echoing Cook's sentiments above, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a similar comment on the October 2016 earnings call (emphasis added):
A lot of people don't even know the difference between power and energy, that one's in kilowatts and another one is in kilowatt hours. And they don't need to know. There's not a good reason for them to know. Stuff should just work and take care of itself.
As long as the Model 3 can reliably reach its advertised range, that's all that should matter. Furthermore, Bloomberg reports that Tesla is planning on making the same marketing shift with Model S and Model X.
Making it simpler for the customer
There's another aspect to consider. Tesla has received criticism over the true kWh capacity and usable portion of its battery packs, especially when it comes to the controversial pricing strategy associated with software-limited packs.
By obfuscating the true capacity of Model 3 battery packs (though Tesla tinkerers like Jason Hughes will still dig in), Tesla can potentially avoid some of the controversy.
It's also possible that Tesla is including a sufficient buffer in the usable capacity in order to minimize cell degradation over time. I once asked Musk if there were any other technical benefits to software-limited battery packs. "They will basically never degrade," he responded. It's probably not a coincidence that Tesla has recently and quietly started shipping 85 kWh packs that are software-limited to 75 kWh, according to Electrek.
Not only delivering the advertised range, but also preserving it over time through minimized degradation simplifies the experience for the customer, and that's a good thing.