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Breaking down Tesla Model S pricing, feature changes

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Tesla Model S (Image courtesy of Tesla)

As its owners know, although much of the car-buying world doesn't, Tesla doesn't believe in the idea of model years.

Rather than updating its electric cars each autumn, to correspond to a new model year, it simply changes them when it feels the updates are ready.

This can lead to some confusion over the features and capabilities of a give car during a model year, since a 2016 Tesla Model S built in January 2016 may be identical to a December 2015 model—but significantly different to one built in, say, August 2016.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Tesla Model S vs original: how do they compare in value? (Jul 2016)


Nonetheless, Tesla stands by its practice, and for the second time this year, it has reshuffled its Model S offerings, features, capabilities, and prices.

Much coverage of the changes yesterday focused on the price cuts for lower-end versions, under which the base Tesla Model S hatchback sedan now comes with a 75-kilowatt-hour battery but costs $69,500—or $5,500 less than it did last week.

The base 75-kwh Model S supplants the former 60-kwh version, which is discontinued as of this week. That 60-kwh version itself was only returned to the lineup last June.


We reached out to Tesla for complete details of the various changes to the Model S and an explanation of the new strategy. We received the following statement, to be attributed to "a Tesla spokesperson":

"Periodically we have adjusted pricing and available options to best reflect the value of our products and our customers’ preferences.

"Today’s updates include slight price decreases to our 75, 75D and 90D models to account for the discontinuation of our 60 kWh models, and next week will be implementing slight price increases to our higher end 100D and P100D models. We expect our total average selling price to remain almost exactly the same.

READ THIS: 2016 Tesla Model S gets styling update, new interior options, price boost (Apr 2016)

"Price increases for our 100D and P100D models will take effect on April 24, 2017 to best accommodate customers already in the order process, while price decreases for 75, 75D and 90D models will take effect today."

The changes to the Model S lineup include a number of details not necessarily reflected in the price-cut headlines.


Essentially, there's now a stronger differentiation between cars with the two smaller battery packs (75 kwh and 90 kwh) and the largest 100-kwh battery versions.

Here's our rundown of the high points:

  • DRIVE: Only one rear-wheel-drive Model S is now offered, the 75; the "D" all-wheel drive is optional for that version, and standard on the 90D, 100D, and P100D.
  • CHARGER: The 75, 75D, and 90D models come only with the 48-amp onboard charger; the 100D and P100D versions come only with the High Amperage Charger, rated at 72 amps.
  • FEATURES: The glass roof and power liftgate are now standard on all Model S versions.
  • SUSPENSION: Coil suspension is the only option for 75 and 75D; Smart Air Suspension is optional on 90D and will be standard on 100D (as of April 24) and continues as standard on P100D
  • PRICES: $5,000 reduction for 75 and 75D to $69,500 and $74,500 respectively; $2,000 reduction for 90D to $87,500; $5,000 increase for 100D to $97,500, as of April 24; $5,500 increase for P100D to $140,000, as of April 24

DON'T MISS: Tesla adds two Model S 60 versions starting at $66K, still 200 miles or more (Jun 2016)


Tesla also announced a smaller collection of feature and pricing updates for its Model X electric crossover utility vehicle, which we'll cover in a future article.

Now in its sixth model year, the Model S hatchback luxury sedan continues to be Tesla's highest-volume model by far, both in total sales and proportion of quarterly sales.

The company's main focus now is meeting its promise of getting the lower-priced Model 3 into production this summer; the company has said it will produce half a million cars next year, from production of just under 84,000 vehicles last year.

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