BREAKING: Tesla Kills Entry-Level Model S, Replaces it With 240-Mile Tesla Model S 70D

In keeping with its tradition of updating its lineup when it has something new to share rather than waiting for arbitrary model year changeovers, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] has just unveiled the all-new Tesla Model S 70D, an all-wheel drive version of its popular Model S luxury sedan which will offer an EPA-approved range of 240 miles per charge (275 miles on the NEDC test cycle).

The announcement, made just over an hour ago, coincides with the official killing of Tesla’s entry-level Model S 60, which offered an EPA-approved range of 208 miles per charge and was available from $71,070 before incentives with no options ticked. The Model S 70D — available from $75,000 before incentives — might offer an additional 32 miles of additional range over the outgoing model, but also raises the entry-level point for the Model S by an additional $3,930.

All-wheel drive and 70 kilowatt-hours of capacity: the new entry-level Tesla Model S 70D

All-wheel drive and 70 kilowatt-hours of capacity: the new entry-level Tesla Model S 70D

“The 70D offers the best value in a premium sedan,” said Tesla in an official press release earlier. “And when one factors in the cost advantages over an internal combustion engine, including fuel savings and incentives, the cost of owning Model S 70D comes to about $55k over five years.”

It’s worth noting too that the abolition of the Tesla Model S 60 in the Tesla Model S lineup also means that there’s now only one single-motor Model S available for customers to order: the Tesla Model S 85. All other Model S models — including the 70D, 85D and range-topping P85D — are driven by an all-wheel drive, dual-motor setup.

As with other Tesla Model S cars made since October last year, the new Tesla Model S 70D will come with autopilot hardware built in to the car, with safety features like lane departure warning and automatic braking — activated with Tesla’s 6.2 operating system — activated as standard. As with other hardware-equipped cars, additional autonomous driving features will be enabled in time via Tesla’s free over-the-air update system free of charge for customers with the tech package specified at point of purchase.

While the Tesla Model S 70D is nearly $4k more expensive than the outgoing entry-level Model S, we note that performance is far improved on the new, higher-capacity model. In addition to benefiting from all-wheel drive (an optional-extra on the previous Model S 60), top speed has been increased to 140 mph, with the 0-60 mph dash taking place in 5.2 seconds.

All Tesla Model S cars are now available in three new colors, including this rather fetching Ocean Blue.

All Tesla Model S cars are now available in three new colors, including this rather fetching Ocean Blue.

The 70 in the 70D of course, comes from the increased battery capacity of the new model: 70 kilowatt-hours versus the 60 kilowatt-hours of the outgoing Tesla Model S 60 and 60D.

Fans of Tesla’s Supercharging network will also be pleased to note that unlike the previous entry-level Model S, Supercharging comes as standard on the 70D. A $2,000 option on the outgoing Model S 60, the addition of supercharging makes the price hike and increased battery capacity rather good value for money.

We’ve reached out to Tesla for clarification on orders made for Model S 60 cars that have yet to be fulfilled, but if we had to guess, Tesla will likely offer customers who have ordered a Model S 60 or 60D but whose cars have not yet been made the chance to upgrade to the new Model S 70D for an additional fee. As soon as Tesla has confirmed that, we’ll let you know.

Finally, the Model S 70D — like the rest of the Tesla Model S lineup — is now available in three new colors: Ocean Blue, Obsidian Black, and Warm Silver, giving Tesla owners a new choice to make alongside just which of the various packages and levels of power they’ll buy.

Do you like the idea of a longer-range entry-level Model S? Would you buy one? And are you upset about the increase in price?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Michael Thwaite

    Remember there was once a 40?nnnTesla are far from stupid and moving up the capacity ladder was, I’m sure, a decision based on demand. Telling eh?

    • Agreed.nnWhat is both refreshing and frustrating about this announcement is that Tesla change battery capacity pretty much when its appropriate to do so. The platform was designed with multiple (and apparently adjustable) battery capacities, built in. That’s refreshing.nnOther OEM’s such as Nissan talk about offering different battery size options, but that always seems to be a few years away. The platform was apparently not designed with flexibility in battery size without them having to do substantial redesign/tests.. That’s frustrating.

      • Surya

        With energy densities in cells increasing it becomes easier for Tesla to accommodate more capacity in the same form factor.

        • Agreed. The question is why are Tesla the only EV manufacturer actually doing this?

          • Surya

            Because they’re currently the only manufacturer making incremental changes. Other manufacturers do refreshes every couple of years.

          • I think you are being too kind to the traditional car OEM’s.nnnSure the LEAF introduced in 2010 got a refresh in 2013. Some great changes, but the same battery. The 2015 LEAF does have the “Lizard Battery” to deal with a hot climate weakness rather than provide additional capability. The long awaited “long range” LEAF will probably not be introduced for another 2 years. That would be 6 or 7 years to make a battery capacity change.nnnNot to pick on Nissan, the same can be said for Mitsubishi iMiev, Ford Focus EV, Toyota RAV4 EV

          • TheFrequentPoster

            Tesla hasn’t done anything new since they stuck the model S out there.

    • RobertBoston

      Exactly. Analyst Trip Chowdhry’s research indicated that only about 10% of new Model S order were for the 60 variant. Tesla needed to make that a more compelling option. If Tesla is still battery-cell constrained and can divert some more sales down from the 85, it can make more cars with the same number of cells.

      • TheFrequentPoster

        Tesla sells a Rolex. It’s not even remotely surprising that their rich customers would go for the top end, $100K+ version. Say whatever you will about Tesla, but they’re in business to serve the 1% and no one else.

    • GregW

      Yeah, but also remember that orders for the 40 were so low that Tesla couldn’t justify making a 40kWh pack and just software-limited a 60 for the relative handful that bought them. Which was kind of cool because they had an at-cost but no-hassle path to a substantial upgrade built in.

  • Gavin Olukoju

    Excellent is a P100D on the horizon too if this has arisen from cell chemistry improvements? 70/60 * 85 is nearly 100…

    • Michael Thwaite

      Sounds like a good rumour no? Make the gap more meaningful however, I’m guessing that a P100D would be similar priced to the 85, i.e. not too much of a bump.

  • CDspeed

    How could anyone doubt the success of a company who seems to improve on a daily basis. This is amazing, and the major manufacturers seem like they’re just messing about launching more hybrids then electrics, and generally not moving in any one particular direction.

    • TheFrequentPoster

      Tesla’s unit sales in the U.S. fell 9% from 1Q14 to 1Q15.nnhttp://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

      • jeffsongster

        YAYT… Yet Another Yawning Troll… The man at the parade with a squirtgun… raining and pouring! Sheesh.

        • TheFrequentPoster

          Sounds like Jeffy the Songster is long TSLA shares. Or maybe he works there? Disclosure: I have no position in TSLA, long or short, or derivatives, or competitors or related companies. Nor am I employed at any car company, supplier, or related company.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            Twice as many sales in March than the previous two months. No one yet has explained it.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            Probably filling back orders?

          • Chris O

            …and people would believe you because?

          • TheFrequentPoster

            What reason do I have to lie?

          • Matthew Johnson

            …Nor do you have valid point, argument, or comment.nnGas is temporarily, artificially, govt subsidized (40 billion USD/year), CHEAP. Of course electric car sales have dipped as a result.nnThis does NOTHING to negate the amazing things Tesla has done and continues to do.nnI double-dog DARE you short Tesla stock with every dime you have 🙂

          • TheFrequentPoster

            I don’t do the stock trading thing anymore. Therefore, I have no dog in the fight as it might concern TSLA shares. Truly don’t care one way or the other. I think most of the TSLA cheerleading is generated by stock speculators. Same people did the same things on message boards during the dot-com bubble of the late ’90s.nnAs for subsidies, alternatives get much more subsidy money than the extractors, i.e., hydrocarbons and uranium. Which, by the way, is as it should be. I actually favor alternatives and EVs. But I won’t lie about the numbers.nnhttp://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/#6

      • RobertBoston

        In North America, but that was just a corporate choice of markets. Tesla announced worldwide sales of 10,030 in 1Q15, up 55% from 1Q14.nnhttp://ir.teslamotors.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=904880

  • Tim Martin

    I have a feeling it has more to do with the upcoming Model X to ensure a 200 Mile plus range for its base package. You would have everyone who is anti EV saying all kinds of nasty things if the X didn’t get 200 miles at least on the base model. I think its a good idea for the model S and X.

    • Ian

      Exactly what I was thinking!

    • It may actually have more to do with battery cell supply of higher amp hours that can fit in the existing “base” pack. The 60 used lower capacity cells. Tesla may be reserving the lower capacity cells for a home solar battery storage solution instead of putting them in cars…

  • vdiv

    That $30k 200-mile Bolt is screwing things up 😉

    • TheFrequentPoster

      There won’t be a “200 mile Bolt.”

      • Joseph Dubeau

        They will start production in Oct. 2016.

        • TheFrequentPoster

          I guarantee you that the car will not go 200 miles in normal use.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            Then, you will just have to get out and push the rest of way.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            To be a 200-mile car from full to empty, it’d need a 60 to 65 kWh battery. No way will it have that — too expensive, too much physical volume, and too heavy. They’ll probably offer the Bolt (or whatever they name it, because “Bolt” is a terrible name and I think they know it) in a couple versions, with 48 kWh being the top, and costing closer to $40K than $30K before the tax credit. nnThey’ll make some bogus range claim, but real-world average full range will be 150-155 miles for the 48 kWh model if offered. Seattle winter range will be 135, and Seattle summer range will be 190. Chicago winter range will be 95, and Chicago summer range will be 175. Worst winter day will be 110 in Seattle and 80-85 in ChicagonnThose will be full ranges to empty. Real world range will be 75-80% of those numbers, based on the fact that no one drives their car all the way to empty if they can help it, especially with an EV because that’s really hard on the battery to run it all the way down.nnAll of what I just wrote will be apparent to buyers, especially those among them who don’t feel inclined to make excuses or inflate numbers. All of this is based on real-world observations of how EVs work in use.

          • vdiv

            GM did not overstate the range on their current plugin models, why would they do on the Bolt? You think they are just trash-talking to supress interest in the upcoming competitors’ models? Also how do you know anything about the battery specs or the cost? What do you consider too expensive to fit in the $30k envelope, over $20k? nnTo make such absolute statements at this point is puzzling at best.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            Bolt will be their first BEV, unless you want to count the electric Spark compliance car. Look, if GM sticks a 60-65 kWh battery in whatever the Bolt is called, great. But given the cost and the weight, I’ll be really surprised if they do it. Much more likely is that they’ll do a Tesla, and use full range in ideal conditions that bear no resemblance to how people actually use the vehicle.nnAs for what’s “too expensive,” that’s a good question, and my answer is that I can’t pluck a number out of the air. But if you view a battery as analagous to a gas tank, and understand that the cost of goods sold on a battery system will probably be $250/kWh vs. a couple hundred bucks for a gas tank, I don’t think you have to spend a whole lot of time with a calculator to see that we’re talking about a very expensive item.

          • vdiv

            Well, if the range under ideal conditions is 200 miles, under worst conditions it would be say 100 miles. That is still far better than the current crop of EVs (Tesla’s excluded) that get half of that. I call this progress and a rather important one coming from GM, IF they are serious.nnRegardless, the possibility of 200-mile EVs in the next couple of years do make people think if they really need a Tesla, especially if they have already had a hard time rationalizing one, like I have. Tesla has to continue moving the goal post to make the value proposition more attractive and the 70D is just that.nnAs far as gasoline powered cars are concerned, that ship sailed away over three years ago and is not coming back.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            I’m just telling people what the real numbers are. I realize that EVangelists will be pissed off, but so be it. I want EVs to succeed, but the reality is that we’re in a very demanding car marketplace. Very few buyers care what the fuel is. They do these things on the numbers, especially at the lower end.nnTesla? They have a luxury brand. And they’re not making any money, either GAAP-wise or in operating cash flow. They stay in business only because Wall Street likes them. The people at Mercedes, Toyota, VW, and BMW aren’t stupid. Any one of them can kill off Tesla any time they want to, but why do it if the Model S loses money and doesn’t make it up on the volume?nnI don’t even know what you mean by gasoline powered cars and a ship sailing away. More than 99% of passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. are gas or diesel, and those sales have been rising while BEV sales are stagnant.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            Nobody is making bogus claims. Only you.nAll this anti-EV propaganda is a waste of time.nnYou don’t know anything about battery technology!nYou are just making stuff up.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            I own an EV and have done extensive record keeping and research. Everyone’s results will vary, of course, but I am quite confident in the numbers. As soon as you clean the drool off your keyboard, you might want to return with a rational, fact-based rebuttal.

      • vdiv

        Maybe… are you willing to bet the house on that?

        • TheFrequentPoster

          If there was a house on the other side of the bet, maybe!

  • just someone old

    85 got killed too

    • Dennis Pascual

      S85 is there if you choose 85D and remove the dual motor…

      • just someone old

        didn’t see thatnsorrynmy mistake

  • Joe

    Nikki’s article mentions the existence of the 60D, but I’m pretty sure that car only existed as an option for about one day. As I recall when the “D” event happened late last year the Tesla Design Studio webpage showed a dual motor option for the 60, but the next day (or even that evening) the option was gone and never reappeared. Is Nikki mistaken, or am I?nnAlso, she says that the single motor 85 is still available, but that does not seem to be true. The Design Studio page does not show it as an option; all options are now dual motor. Was it an option for a few minutes while she was writing the article, perhaps?

    • Dennis Pascual

      That’s correct. Tesla decided not to offer 60D. nnThe S85 is there as an 85D while removing the Dual motor

      • Joe

        You are right! I didn’t poke around on the page enough. Thanks for the correction, Dennis.

  • Joe

    I just had a happy thought (as someone who is saving to buy a used Model S): inventory car clearance! It’s possible that Tesla will be selling off any single-motor cars they have in inventory (showrooms, loaner cars, test drive vehicles) so those of us looking for a single motor car at a discount may be in luck!

  • Surya

    While I feel the price difference is very fair for what you get extra, it is sad to see the base price increase. I wish they kept the 60 (non D) version an option available (possibly at a slightly lower price than before).

    • Joe

      I agree that a lower priced version would be welcome by many people, but since Tesla’s sales are still supply constrained, they don’t have a good reason to lower the price yet. nnnWith that in mind, I think the 70D is really a good value compared to a 60. I don’t quite remember what the price of the tech package was, but I think it was listed as a $3750 option last time I looked. And supercharging was $2000. Dual motors added $5000 to the 85, so if you took a theoretical Model S 60 and added those three items, you’d add $10750 to the base price, but the base price only rose by about $4000 today AND you get an additional 10 kWh battery capacity. This really does look like quite a deal to anyone who would have wanted those features anyway.nnI realize that autopilot features are now broken out separately at an extra $2000 but even if you subtract that, you’re still way ahead today than with a high spec 60 yesterday.

      • TheFrequentPoster

        I don’t think “Tesla” and “great deal” belong on the same page, let alone in the same sentence. Regardless of the version, the Model S is a luxury car for the 1%, period. Nothing wrong with that, by the way, but let’s call a spade a spade.

    • D. Harrower

      Tesla has made it clear from the start that Model S is their top-of-the-range sedan. Asking for a lower-priced one is like asking Mercedes to put out an S-Class with the price of a C-Class. If they did that, it wouldn’t be an S-Class anymore.nnBudget-minded buyers will have to wait for Model 3.

      • TheFrequentPoster

        The Model 3 will be a direct competitor to the LEAF and Chevy’s “Bolt,” and a few others out there. Tesla has no competitive advantage, and their lack of a diversified product line will make it difficult and probably impossible for them to even come close to matching the lease subsidies that keep the LEAF afloat.

  • RobertBoston

    You didn’t mention the REALLY BIG news: three new colors. 😉 Actually, I’m very partial to the new “Warm Silver” aka Titanium.

  • GregW

    Answering the questions at the end of the article:nYes, I like that they’ve increased the capacity of the base model.nI don’t consider the price increase a significant issue given what you get for it.nNo, I’m not getting one. I’ve got a 60 that I’m quite satisfied with. Ask me again when it’s time to replace our other car, probably about 2 years from now.