More On The Return Of Tesla’s Software-Limited Battery Pack Scheme


FEB 11 2019 BY EVANNEX 18


From time to time, Tesla adjusts its lineup of available model variants in order to optimize its manufacturing process and respond to consumer preferences. The company recently discontinued the 75 kWh versions of Models S and Model X, and some speculated that this was a precursor to replacing the battery pack used in those models with a redesigned pack based on the newer 2170 cells used in Model 3.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Tesla Model S and Model X (Image: Tesla)

However, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the moment – instead, the California carmaker has revised its roster of S and X variants, reintroducing the option to buy a battery pack with software-limited range and unbundling Ludicrous Mode from the Performance variant.

The news isn’t as exciting as a battery update would have been (although we’re pretty sure that will happen eventually), but as Electrek pointed out, it’s a good business move. It allows Tesla to streamline production by building only a single (100 kWh) battery pack for Models S and X, and also lets it offer a lower price to buyers who don’t feel the need to have the ultimate in range and performance.

Tesla has also lowered the price of the Extended Range (formerly known as 100) variants by $1,000, and dropped the previous numerical naming scheme. Here’s the new deal:

Model S and Model X owners can upgrade to the Extended Range version via an over-the-air update for $8,000.


Written by: Charles Morris; This article originally appeared in Charged; Source: Electrek

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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18 Comments on "More On The Return Of Tesla’s Software-Limited Battery Pack Scheme"

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> …some speculated that this was a precursor to replacing the battery pack used in those models with a > redesigned pack based on the newer 2170 cells used in Model 3. > However, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the moment… You’re right, it isn’t. Musk explicitly stated as such in the conference call recently. My take on the main reason why? It’s because of Model S and X sold in Europe. These models for Europe are assembled in the Tilburg plant. There isn’t that much actual assembly goes on, but it is sufficient to avoid Tesla having to pay a 10% import duty on the vehicles. The main thing that allows them to avoid this duty is that the assembly includes major parts from more than one source. Specifically, the “other” source is the batteries being shipped from Japan. If Model S and X were to start using battery packs that were built by Tesla in Nevada, they would no longer be able to meet the requirements for assembly in Europe to avoid paying the import duty. This is why they are shipping finished Model 3s rather than expanding their existing European assembly process. In… Read more »

Interesting ideas, but they don’t ship batteries from Japan to Tilburg.

Also, having one pack size instead of two does not affect Euuropean import in any way, so it makes no sense to tie the issues together.

Many experts have speculated the largest factor to why they haven’t switched X/S cells to 2170s is because of the considerable costs it takes to re-engineer the entire battery pack, re-write the vehicles software code and to update the assembly line equipment which would need to happen at Tilburg in addition to Sparks and Fremont…Tesla may never see a return on their investment by switching cells…

A large majority of Tesla Model S/X customers stay with Tesla for their next car… they trade-in their Model S\X for a newer updated Tesla and Tesla in turn puts that traded-in Tesla into Tesla’s used CPO (certified pre-owned) inventory for sale.

Having a larger battery pack that is software limited helps Tesla better sale used Tesla inventory.

The larger battery pack puts less net wear (battery degradation) on the battery and also allows Tesla to later optionally offer the larger battery size as a pre-owned Tesla… both advantages to Tesla for selling a pre-owned Tesla.

I agree with your opinion. I already think some of the appeal of the S andX is lost with the 3 having better range than either (the EPA range was intentionally underestimated) and there will probably be a point quite soon when 300 mile range will be the new minimum ( just like 200 mile range is what all the latest EVs are striving for).

I was wondering about the battery degradation of the software limited battery. If you charged it to 100% and run it to 0%, would that be the same as running the full battery from 95% to 5%? It makes sense that the battery would last longer if software limited. Anyone with knowledge about this?

I don’t know that anyone has presented evidence to show that a software-limited Tesla battery pack (Tesla did previously offer a software limited S75 as an “S60”) has a longer lifespan, but certainly the consensus is that it will result in a longer life. It’s hard to see how it wouldn’t, given the way cycling and aging work in li-ion battery packs.

“but certainly the consensus is that it will result in a longer life”
Yes and no. Say you have the software unlocked version that allows to use 95kWh out of the 100kWh available. If you routinely charge to 100% (the full 95kWh), you would certainly get more degradation compared to if you charged to 100% on the software limited version (which would be some 85kWh).

However the majority of owners already self limit the charge state to 80-85% of capacity to minimize degradation. The owners of the software locked version do not need to do that since the battery is already limited to the same 80 or 85% by the manufacturer. Hence an owner of the locked version charging to 100% and owner of the extended range version will get exactly the same degradation and range 99% of the time. Those $8,000 are buying nothing but some ~25 miles on the rare road trips… pure waste of money methinks.

From memory:

Running the sw-locked battery 100..0% is the same as running the full battery 92.3..0%.

The former has a 7.8% reserve capacity and the latter 4%.

Lifetime will be practically the same as Tesla owners rarely charge >90% due to it taking another 25 minutes 90..100% even at a supercharger.

My point also, but I think the reserve capacity is more than that on the locked version. If the 7.8% was correct then it would have just (7.8 – 4) * 100 / 100 = 3.8kWh less available than the unlocked one.
But the claimed loss of range is 25 miles or 6.6 miles per kWh which is impossible. Using a more realistic 3 miles/kWh would mean the locked version has 8.3 kWh less than the unlocked one bringing the available capacity to 87.7 kWh (corresponding to 87.7% SOC).

It’s perfectly safe for the battery to charge regularly to 87.7% SOC (or slightly less if you want to be on the safe side).

rad — it is important to distinguish between theoretical battery use, and actual typical owner use.

In a theoretical world, being software limited would show less battery degradation.

But in the real world the vast majority of owners will recharge the battery the same number of miles each day regardless of whether the battery is software limited or not. Because their daily use will be much less than the battery capacity. The larger the battery pack, the less difference it would make to be software limited.

Given how long Tesla batteries have been lasting, the real world difference on a 100 kWh pack would likely be a rounding error on battery life.

I still think the elimination of the 75 kWh packs is a precursor to some change coming soon in the Model S & Model X. Perhaps Tesla isn’t going to switch over to 2170 cells soon, as I thought, but I still think that Tesla is at least going to introduce a larger pack size for the MS & MX, and soon. In the past, when Tesla has eliminated one pack size, this has been ether shortly before or shortly after introducing a new larger size.

I don’t buy the argument that using a software limited 100 kWh pack for the S75 and X75 saves Tesla money. All those extra batteries cost money that Tesla isn’t getting paid for.

“Model S and Model X owners can upgrade to the Extended Range version via an over-the-air update for $8,000.”

Ah, that’s the news I was expecting to see, but hadn’t until now. That’s the marketing scheme that Tesla used with the older software-limited S60, which really had an S75 battery pack, and you could upgrade that for a price.

That makes it a better deal for Tesla, because there is at least the possibility of getting paid for a later upgrade.

I’ll agree that putting 25 kWh of battery into a car and not getting paid for it doesn’t make sense. That is a lot of inventory sitting out there with no ROI. Would make more sense to take 1/4 of the modules out of the pack for the 75 kWh version.

Revised comment:
I still don’t see how putting 25 kWh of battery into a car and not getting paid for it makes sense. That is a lot of inventory sitting out there with no ROI for a long time. Plus, in 3 yrs time the value of those packs will decline along with the cost of batteries. This does sound like a temporary fix and that something is going to change in the near future.

I think it is safe to assume that the marginal cost increase is only 100$/kWh. So Tesla has an extra 2500$ tied up in each car. If only 1/3 of customers upgrade at some point they are still making money.

Maintaining the value on lease returns and CPO cars also makes a lot off sense. I would bet the resale difference between a used 75 and 100 kWh car is mush larger than 2500$ and it explains why Tesla removes the battery size badge from the cars

I think this just demonstrates that Tesla has more of a long term mindset than the legacy companies.

Is is NOT 25 kWh — it is 25 MILES of range. Likely only around 8 kWh. If their costs are really in the $100 / kWh then this does not cost them a whole lot. Frankly I’d be surprised if anyone chooses the longer range option. $8k for 25 miles of extra range is pretty steep!

I looked at the design studio, and unlocking the additional range did not increase the 0-60 times… so that $8k is for unlocking about 25 more miles of range with no other benefit… it does seem extremely steep to me. The only benefit that I can see for Tesla is that, when the vehicle comes off of lease, they will unlock it in order to improve resale (and/or justify a higher residual for lease payments).

This seems like Tesla’s way of saying “you really don’t need 25 more miles of range once you already have 270+ miles of range. But if you REALLY want to have 25 more miles just to have bragging rights, we will sell you what you want.”

For everyone else, enjoy saving your $8K.