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Tesla Motors, Inc. Announces More Options for Its Model S Line

By Daniel Sparks - Jul 17, 2015 at 6:34PM

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Tesla just gave investors more reasons to believe it can reach its ambitious sales target for Model S this year.

On Friday, during a phone press conference, electric car-maker Tesla Motors' (TSLA 1.24%) announced new options for its award-winning Model S line.

  • A 90 kWh battery option
  • A rear-wheel-drive-only entry-level Model S at $5,000 less than the previous entry-level Model S with dual-motor all-wheel drive.
  • An option for a faster zero-to-60 acceleration speed for its new flagship Model S of 2.8 seconds.

Model S. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Here's a look at each of these new options in detail.

The 90 kWh battery pack
Available for an option on all of Tesla's 85 kWh Model S, Tesla now offers a range upgrade to the 90 kWh battery when customers are configuring their orders. The upgrade will get the 85D Model S to "almost exactly 300 miles of highway range at 65 mph." The EPA-rated range for the 85D with a range upgrade is likely around 284 miles, up from 270 miles of EPA-rated range for the 85D without the range upgrade.

Tesla factory. Image source: Tesla Motors.

It costs $3,000 for owners to upgrade from an 85 kWh battery to a 90 kWh battery when they are configuring their order.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted during the call that existing owners will have the option to upgrade their pack, but he said he wouldn't recommend doing so since Tesla expects to "increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year."

A less expensive entry-level Model S
In April, Tesla ditched its 60 kWh battery Model S, which had an EPA-rated range of 208 miles, and replaced it with the a 70 kWh entry-level model. While Tesla increased the price from $70,000 to $75,000 when it made this change, the 70 kWh model also came standard with dual motor, had an improved 240 miles of range, and no longer required $2,000 down to lock in free access to Superchargers for life.

On Friday, Tesla made its way back to $70,000 for its entry-level Model S when it announced a rear-wheel-drive-only version of its 70 kWh Model S for $70,000. The 70 kWh model with dual motor is still available for $75,000. As Tesla notes, this is "consistent with the price differential for the single and dual motor 85 kWh car."

Ludicrous mode
Ever wondered what it would feel like to fall forward? Tesla's "ludicrous mode" will launch you forward at a rate faster than falling, achieving a zero-to-60 speed of 2.8 seconds (down from the previous flagship Model S time of 3.1 seconds).

Clearly aimed at Tesla's high-end buyers, the "Ludicrous Speed Upgrade" costs a whopping $10,000 and requires customers also to pay for the range upgrade to a 90 kWh battery.

Image source: Tesla Motors.

"The performance improvements we're announcing today demonstrate, yet again, that an electric car can soundly beat any gasoline car on efficiency and pure performance," Tesla says.

With Friday's announcements, Tesla essentially extended the price range of its Model S offering, with Model S starting prices now down from $75,000 to $70,000 and its fully loaded option up from about $133,000 to $145,000.

Ahead of the call, Tesla shares rose in anticipation of the announcement as much as 3%, trading around $275. Apparently Tesla didn't disappoint: Shares remained at these levels after the announcement and closed at $274.66. Shares are up 45% in the past four months and about $15 below all-time highs set in 2014.

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