Ever since its first Model S rolled off the production line in 2012, Tesla Motors has earned itself a reputation for constantly evolving its vehicle lineup, adding new features as and when they’re ready for market rather than waiting for arbitrary model-year crossovers. At the same time, it has also quietly removed vehicle model variants from sale which are either being superseded or being retired due to a lack of customer interest.
The first to go was the Tesla Model S 40, a car which Tesla pulled from production after a few months due to a lack of customer demand. As time has passed, other Model S variants have fallen by the wayside, including the Tesla Model S 60 (replaced by the Tesla Model S 70D) and the Tesla Model S 85 (replaced by the Tesla Model S 90D). While the former was not replaced by any direct model, the latter two are examples of one model being removed from Tesla’s portfolio as a newer, higher-specification model comes to take its place.
So when we heard the news at the weekend that the Tesla’s entry-level Model X 70D had seemingly vanished from Tesla’s website this weekend, we, like other outlets, assumed it was either because of a lack of demand or ahead of the announcement of a higher-specification Model X variant. Given, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Tesla is readying itself to announce a brand-new 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack for the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X at its Model 3 reveal event on Thursday — including the discovery of a reference to a “P100D” model in the latest Tesla software update and some hints that there’s about to be a model upgrade/price increase for S and X customers — the disappearance of the Model X 70D wasn’t exactly surprising.
But just as quickly as it disappeared over the weekend, the Tesla Model X 70D is now back on Tesla’s online configurator again.
Just like a sudden and unexpected change to Tesla’s warranty policy a few months’ ago (which was quickly corrected after it was noticed by several Tesla fans), the deletion of the Model X 70D from the online configuration tool happened in error.
“It was a brief website error which was quickly corrected,” a Tesla spokesperson told Transport Evolved when pushed for comment.
While the Tesla Model X 70D is now indeed listed again on Tesla’s website, we note however that Tesla has dropped the five-seat Model X configuration from its online listings. When the Model X debuted, it was originally offered with a choice of five, six or seven seats, but we note that to date, we believe Tesla has not manufactured or sold a five-seat Model X, focusing instead on clearing the backlog of high-end Tesla Model S P90D orders with six and seven-seat configurations.
It’s not clear if Tesla will build five-seat Model X cars for those who have already order their Model X cars with five seats, or if customers will be offered an upgrade — but we’re guessing the deletion is again caused by a lack of demand and financial common sense. If Tesla hasn’t received many five-seat Model X orders, then producing the required variant interior parts to accommodate a five-seat layout is likely a loss-leader from a cost benefit analysis standpoint.
As for the temporary deletion of the TEsla Model X 70D? While Tesla says it was done in error, we’re leaning towards the likelihood that it was the result of a pre-emptive change due to happen at some point in the not-too-distant-future. In other words, we think the Tesla Model X 70D is likely going to be replaced by a longer-range model in the next few months.
Given Tesla has yet to even produce any Tesla Model X 70D models, it may also result in those who ordered a Model X 70D being asked to upgrade to a 90 D, while Tesla’s higher-end Model X P90D gets replaced by a Model X P100D. We should reiterate here that this is pure conjecture: we’ve no concrete evidence to confirm this belief.
What we can say however, is that we hope any future changes to Tesla’s entry-level Model X are not accompanied by an increase in price. At $80,000, the entry-level Tesla Model X 70D is already prohibitively expensive for most. Pushing the price higher would simply push the Model X further away from the average car buyer in terms of affordability.
For an automaker keen to make electric cars affordable for all, that’s a decision Tesla will need to look at very carefully.
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