Tesla Launches New Model S, X With Software-Locked 100-kWh Battery

JAN 30 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 94

It turns out Tesla is not discontinuing Model S and X with less battery capacity.

Tesla recently announced that it will discontinue its Model S and Model X vehicles with the “smaller,” 75-kWh battery pack. This meant that the least expensive vehicles jumped drastically in price. The automaker also admitted that it was cutting back on Model S and X production hours.

Sometimes what appears to be bad news can turn out to be positive for the customer. Fast forward to this week, and Tesla is updating its Model S and X lineup to still include a smaller battery option. In addition, the mid-level and range-topping models get a reduced price.

Tesla will only build the Model S and X with the 100-kWh battery pack. However, it will offer a software-limited version as well. This will help to streamline production, while providing vehicles that appeal to a wider audience.

Unfortunately — in line with Tesla’s new scheme of not sharing specific battery capacity — we don’t know exactly how many kilowatt-hours these software-locked batteries will have. Nonetheless, it really makes no difference, as long as we know the range and price. Fortunately, there’s good news on both fronts, depending on which trim level you choose.

The (base) Tesla Model S and X (with the software-locked battery pack) will cost $85,000 and $88,000, respectively. While this is a price increase, the battery pack is clearly limited to more than 75 kWh, since range has increase significantly. The Model S will travel 310 miles and have a 4.1-second zero-to-60-mph time. As for the base Model X, it has a 270-mile range and will hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds.

The Model S and X Extended Range vehicles (100-kWh battery pack) will be much the same as the current non-performance (100D) models. However, Tesla has dropped their price by $1,000.

That leaves the top-of-the-line (P100D) models, which are now simply referred to as Model S and X Performance. Like the Extended Range vehicles, there aren’t any notable changes aside from a price reduction. However, it’s important to note that Ludicrous Mode is now a paid upgrade. Also, people who buy the base or Extended Range models have the choice to unlock the battery to move up trims. All of the above vehicles are already available on Tesla’s website.

How do you feel about these changes? Fill us in via the comment section.

Source: Electrek

Categories: Tesla

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94 Comments on "Tesla Launches New Model S, X With Software-Locked 100-kWh Battery"

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When Tesla gets these back, will they unlock them and sell them as 100s/ER?

They always unlock everything on any used cars they sell. Why wouldn’t they?

They do? I guess that makes sense for them, it’s untapped revenue otherwise.

You did not pay for it. What do u care?

Higher resale value.

Doesn’t really matter. The ER is such a bad deal compared to the base, that they will increase the bases price by 2k in a few months and give it the full range.

Existing owners of the base cars will of course be able to upgrade within a timeframe for 2k, which many will do. Once Tesla gets the cars back, they will probably upgrade the remaining software locked cars as well.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Yes, no doubt.

That would be nice for those buying then but would piss off anyone who had paid up for the range. I doubt it will happen like that.

I’m not a big fan of their approach, but in effect the massive price difference is not worth it for most new car shoppers but still gets them in a Tesla. Then when they trade that vehicle in, Tesla unlocks it and recovers a portion of that gap via increased resale value. Effectively creating a time lagged cash flow on the car.

• Tesla Model S with 310 miles of range for $85,000.-
• Tesla Model X with 270 miles of range for $88,000.-

That sounds like a good deal.

So now we have new names to match Model 3:

Model S/X
Model S/X Extended range
Model S/X Performance

Now the base S/X match the range of the Long Range Model 3 at 310. Expect that a new Long Range S/X pack will be close to 400 miles.

It will very likely be that way once they refresh with the 2170 cells.

Especially compared to competitors. The $90,000 version of the IPace is 234 miles, e-tron Edition One is around 210 miles for the same price. Same with EQC. Granted IPace and e-tron will have cheaper models, the price quickly adds up to $90,000 and they don’t get more battery range with that upgrade in pricing. Not to mention, Model X gets 270 miles range (instead of 200 to 234) with roughly the same usable capacity battery.

That’s a good comparison, thank you! There is also an EV tax credit difference or rather the only Tesla gets punished in Q1 2019 tax credit.

We saw right on IEV that 80% of folks lease EVs…Jag often have some attractive lease offers, however, the IPace is too new, once next years IPace hits the lots, expect some descent deals on last years IPace leases…

Actually the base i pace is $69k and the base e tron $76k so quite a lot less, still have $7500 tax credit and they are nicely equipped. Nevertheless the software limited S and X seem like excellent values compared to their one month ago predecessors. Paying $8k to unlock 25 more miles on each seems ludicrous (pun intended). These ARE all toys for high income and/or wealthy people. They are less bad than gasoline/diesel equivalents but hardly low impact transportation.

I guess the software-locking strategy worked better than I thought last time.

They are charging nearly $20K more than last time but this also makes the base S’s range on par with the ER Model 3…

Not necessarily. This may be only a short-term marketing ploy; an interim measure while Tesla gears up for more substantial changes to the MS and/or MX. Perhaps a major refresh coming soon, including new battery packs using 2170 cells?

Addendum: I see Doggydogworld already suggested the exact same thing in his comment below.

Resale value.

Hopefully this is just an interim measure until they deliver an improved pack design, perhaps using 2170s.

I predicted the new naming convention, but expected (and still expect) the long range Model S to break the 400 mile barrier.

Here’s a snippet from a good opinion to why Tesla may never use 2170s in the S/X…

“With the production lines for Model S and X well established at the Fremont factory and the factory already bursting at the seams just to accommodate Model 3 production, it is likely that Tesla is simply out of space at the Fremont factory. Reworking the factory to accommodate a different battery specification would add value in the long term in supply chain simplification, but is likely too much headache for too little return for the time being.”

https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-x-no-plans-use-2170-battery-cells-says-musk/

Nah. They will switch to the next version of battery. That one will have no cobalt and will be cheaper and last longer. In fact, I suspect that the pack with next version cells, will last over 1M miles.

Would be nice, but I am not going to hold my breath. I am saving to buy a used Tesla next year. The current batteries are good enough.

Nothing stopping them from doing that in the 18650 form factor. People are confused thinking that only the bigger cells can use the new chemistry

Well, it’s the combination of new chemistry + new cell form factor that brings in the big energy density numbers(above 310Wh/kg) and the low cost/kWh numbers…
21700 cells have a better ratio of active material to casing material than 18650, in other words, while the total weight of a cell goes up, the casing material as a percentage of that weight, goes down. 21700 cells, also seem to be easier to cool down, especially when paired with Tesla’s new cooling system(that enables Track Mode on Model 3).

Problem is 2170 will not fit Model S and X battery pack. Complete redesign is needed. I expect this will not happen until next year.

I suspect that the only real change would be lowering the bottom of the pack by 2 cm. Less than an inch.

Exactly.

U might want to get with it.
Nobody said anything about form factors. Tesla has hired a number of top researchers such as Goodenough who are doing fabulous R&D on this. Their M3 cell is one such product. It is superior to the Panasonic 18650. Not because of form factor, but because of chemistry.
In fact, the 18650 only gets around 500 full charges, while the new cells have over 3000 full recharges (and costs less). So, the M3 cars will outlast our MS/X cars. That is a FACT.

The factory is only 30% complete space wise. They will have a lot more room when they resume construction.

He was talking about Fremont, not Nevada.

Not at all convincing. Tesla isn’t going to leave that much money on the table. Switching the MS/MX battery packs over to the 2170 cells will save Tesla a significant amount of money per car, and will be well worth the trouble of switching.

The question isn’t whether Tesla will switch the MS/MX packs to the 2170 cells; the only question is when. My prediction is within two months.

Agreed – it has nothing to do with Freemont, and everything to do with GF1, where the 2170 cells & packs are manufactured.

I’ve read that this is not currently in the works but it does seem to be where they should go.

“Base range on the Model S is rated at 310 miles and the Model X gets 270 miles. Unlocking the extra range costs $8,000 up front and brings Model S range to 335 miles and Model X range to 295 miles.” I think this is a really great idea. Simplifies production, and gives the customer an immediate upgrade choice, or future upgrade choice if their needs change.

…except that $8000 for 25 miles of extra range is a really bad deal

You are missing the point. Telsa has really cut pricing on the S & X without directly doing so. No one is going to pony up the $8,000, but all will enjoy a stealth price ‘adjustment’. No screaming Tesla headlines in the media.

There is actually no reason to get the ER model. In every day driving they will have the same range. Unless someone charges their car to 100%.

On road trips you gain 25 miles. Unless you charge to 100% on a SC.

Since both aren’t recommended by Tesla, they basically don’t recommend their ER S and X.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

When you start out on a longer journey, you charge to 100% at your home/destination charger, to reduce the amount of required Supercharging.

But yes, unless there is a performance cap placed on the locked model, it’s a lot for a little more range that you won’t use much. So, this is probably Tesla’s way to clear inventory.

> When you start out on a longer journey, you charge to 100% at your home/destination charger, to reduce the amount of required Supercharging.

On a long journey, charging the extra 25 miles would save you 5-10 minutes, tops. It’s a nice luxury but hard to justify at $8000.

The only “real” justification would be if your daily driving would frequently necessitate a mid-day charge at 310 miles, but 335 miles would be enough to squeak by .. the same use case as charging to 100% instead of 90%. Most people will never benefit from doing this, and charging to 100% daily will degrade the battery more quickly.

The only people purchasing this option either misunderstand how the software limit works, or simply don’t object to the cost and don’t want the performance version.

This software limit means there is a bigger buffer between the usable and actual capacity of the battery. Does that mean that the car will accept a higher charging rate as it approaches the SW limited max charge? Anyone know???

And to add to your question, has anyone who has a software locked battery experience capacity degradation as the battery ages? If the answer is no, then I would assume the buffer is being reduced as the battery ages. In that case, the LR looks more and more like a bad deal as you pay $8k for a battery that degrades over time.

Excellent question – wish I could upvote this more than once – so I’ll just comment on it to attract more attention.

Well, how did it work on the software locked S60? I think it was reported that this did indeed charge faster… that is, it didn’t taper off as fast beyond 60% state of charge.

I presume the new software limited packs would work the same.

On our locked S 60, it can supercharge to 100% ending at a rate about 30-38 kw. It doesn’t taper down to almost nothing past 90% like on a regular unlocked battery. 208 miles of range have been enough for use to road trip all up and down the east coast the last two years. I haven’t found the need to spend $2,000 to unlock the 40 miles of extra range.

Thanks for the info!

$8k for 25 miles range. Bad deal

No – I think you’ll find that the performance is also limited (0-60 times, that sort of thing). You’ll be paying for more than unlocked range.

I have no problem with SW-based limits (as long as they’re clearly communicated in advance, which is the case); while I don’t quite see how they make sense economically for Tesla, that’s Tesla’s affair, notmine.
However, the practice of not directly specifying battery capacity is downright sleazy. Without that, it becomes impossible to objectively determine the state of a battery, whether new or used, and you can’t pin the manufacturer down on the spec. Will not buy a vehicle that doesn’t have hard specs, particularly on such an expensive component as a battery.

The average person doesn’t understand the difference between a kilowatt-hour and sixty minutes, so naming based on mileage makes more sense than naming based on battery capacity. The warranty is based on battery capacity remaining as a function of age/miles, so I don’t foresee an issue related to this speciifc change.

Edit: Also, naming based on range highlights Tesla’s efficiency advantage. If they and Jaguar both advertise 90 kW-h they look similar, even though the much bigger Model X gets many more miles due to efficiency advantages.

In addition, how many customers care about pack size? Few. Very few.
In addition, as soon as these are out, some will test it and tell us how big they are.

What electric car do you own now?

It is necessary, not at all sleazy – the VW group competition is so inefficient that their stated kWh does not mean as much range as a Tesla with the same pack. It is very necessary.

What’s “sleazy” here is your Tesla bashing.

Tesla was smart to move away from specifying any kWh sizes for the battery packs in the Model 3, and now they’re doing the same for the MS/MX. I’m sure Tesla will do better by not asking potential buyers to understand the difference between (for example) a 75 kWh battery pack and a 100 kWh battery pack.

Those who want to find such technical info will be able to do so with no more difficulty than they do now, thru an online search for such info.

It’s not Tesla-bashing… just a point of view that did make sense at one time. It would be like ICE vehicles not putting the engine displacement on their vehicles because displacement is not the sole indicator of performance (turbo, injection specifics, timing, etc.). Ford did that because their EcoBoost engines get far more torque and horsepower than anything close to their nominal displacment, even compared to other turbocharged designs.

Interesting tweak to the Model S and X portfolio. Stream-lining the battery pack production will help them keep up numbers despite the smaller work-force. The Model S 75 had an unwanted overlap with the Model 3, now every S sold is clearly ‘more’ car than the Model 3.

The Performance 3 is quicker than the non-Performance S. Otherwise agreed, the trims line up very nicely.

What many are missing is that these will last a LONG time. Why? More rotation amongst the batteries.

Also benefits the fast charging sweet spot since the pack is bigger.

I had not thought about that. Great point.

The 10%-100% charging will be faster because it is in fact 10%-90%. The battery always charged to 90% should outlast the car itself.

Question: Even Teslas suffer some battery deterioration. over the decades. As the 100 kWh battery slowly loses capacity, does the software-allowed range stay steady?
In other words, if the software allows 310 miles in a model S and a new, non-limited car had 335 miles of range; after the battery has lost 7.5%% of capacity, will the two cars have the same (310-mile) range?

Unlikely, but the shallower depth of discharge means it will last more cycles (but less range per cycle). My hunch is the reduced capacity will extend the life though. People always claim the Volt can “hide” its capacity loss in its extra capacity, but I don’t think there is any evidence it does nor need to do so. The shallower depth of discharge naturally makes the battery last thousands more cycles.

The Volt does hide its capacity loss. Nothing lasts forever, even the best cared for batteries degrade over time, and the Volt does adjust the charge limit so that the battery retains its available capacity even as total capacity of the battery decreases.

Here’s an example (non-english) of an Opel Ampera owner reporting internal numbers retrieved from his car with an app through the OBD port that show what SoC the battery is at when the car reports 100% charged:
https://www.alter.si/tema/opel-ampera-chevrolet-volt.1483033/page-117

In his case, 100% on the GOM meant 85,9% SoC when the car was new, but after 131.000km 100% GOM matched 89,9% SoC. I remember reading in that thread, but can’t find the post right now, that the battery SoC at 100% GOM goes up in winter and back down in summer (presumably to compensate for the lower total capacity in low temps), but on average it keeps going up as the battery degrades to maintain the same available capacity. At some percentage (90+%) it caps out and stops compensating, at that point the available capacity starts dropping as well.

Yes, that would easily be possible. Audi is going to do that with the E-Tron.

I am guessing The software will keep unlocking the cells with age to maintain the same range as the new car. So after 15 years it will still have 310 mile range.

That’s now how it works. All the cells are connected. The software limits the maximum voltage of the pack to something lower that the fully-charged voltage.

Connecting and disconecting individual cells inside the pack would be mechanically complex and expensive. A software limit is a few lines of code.

Eddie is completely right! But technically Tesla won’t “unlock cells”, Tesla will unlock how you can charge/discharge your battery.

Your second paragraph is correct. But I doubt Tesla is limiting the maximum voltage. I think it’s just a limitation of how much of the pack is available for use.

The capacity of li-ion batteries varies slightly by temperature. Someone with the proper testing instruments could test to see if a software-limited Model S had a usable capacity which varied by temperature; my guess is it wouldn’t.

Note this isn’t the first time Tesla has sold the Model S with a software-limited battery pack. A year or two ago, they sold a software limited S75 as an “S60”.

My question is; Does this make it less harmful to charge to 100% frequently?

If so, then these software locked batteries might be amazing deals 10 years from now.

My thoughts exactly! Would charging the Standard model to 100% be the same as charging the Extended model to 90%?

I guess it depends on how they split the 8% difference. Does it go 4% from the bottom and 4% from the top or 8% from the top? If it’s 8% from the top, does this mean the standard has a harder time balancing (longer/less accurate)? It’s harder to balance the further from 100% you get.

Correct. Software locked battery is a great deal. Especially since at a certain point they will drop the upgrade price to just a couple thousand and you can upgrade then.

1. Depends on Tesla cutting the capacity at the top or bottom. I guess they do a mix of both, then yes.

2. Batteries age over cycles and time. After 10years, they will be pretty bad, except you buy it from someone living in a really cold climate.

“Does this make it less harmful to charge to 100% frequently?”

Pretty sure the answer is “Yes”. This issue was discussed thoroughly concerning the older software-limited Model S60. Whether or not you charge to 100% frequently, limiting the usable capacity to a lower percentage extends the battery life. That is a straightforward and probably inevitable result of the packs having more unused reserve capacity.

Sort of a cool model that they can sell a single car at multiple levels. “Oh, you want a 75-kWh battery? We’ll sell you this 100-kWh one but just make a software tweak”. So one car covers all levels. They can “convert” a used 75 to a used 100 and vice versa…When a disaster hits they can unlock all to max capacity and be heros too.

The new SW limited version is effectively about 92 or 93 kWh. Not comparable to the old 75kWh model. It seems to be a good value compared to the month ago 100 and to the discontinued 75. Of course good value and $86k and up for a car is ludicrous mode thinking for most of us.

Sounds great but….. If a SW limited battery degrades to 90kwh in 10 years, unknowingly while using 75, how will it be upgraded back to 100?

If Tesla can afford to put a 100kW pack in a lower-spec, lower-priced car, that hints to dropping battery costs

Or maybe it “hints to” Tesla getting ready for a major change in the battery pack by simplifying what’s being produced on the assembly line.

I wonder if Tesla is finally making the move to include the Model 3’s switched reluctance motor as one of the Model S and X drive motors. That explains the range increase with only 75 kWh battery. It also means the 100 kWh might be able to hit 400 miles on a charge.

Interesting proposition – the front drive motors on the Model 3 AWDs are inductance motors, so it might be a worthwhile cost-cutting measure… though, the motors on the S/X are more powerful… even though the technology would be the same, the actual motor design and construction will not be identical… more windings, maybe larger diameter, etc.

That is one of several changes that Tesla is going to want to introduce in the MS & MX, along with using 2170 cells in the battery pack. Will Tesla introduce those changes one at a time, or all at once in a major refresh?

Only time will tell, but I’m predicting we’ll see the MS/MX packs switched over to 2170 cells within a couple of months or less.

I suspect tesla is contractually bound to Panasonic for X number of years on those cells.
Now, it is POSSIBLE that Tesla could talk Pan out of that, but I doubt it.
OTOH, lets assume that goodenough’s cells really drop the costs, and are superior, then tesla will likely cut a deal with pan to carry those.

So, Tesla is moving away from using a nominal kWh in the name of the car. No more S60, S75, S90, S100; no more X75, S90, S100.

Well, there was speculation that Tesla would do exactly that, in comments to the IEVs news that Tesla was discontinuing the 75 kWh battery pack for the MS/MX. So not really a surprise.

I think Tesla is smart to move to only talking about range and recharge time. The average car driver doesn’t understand how kWh relates to EV power, range, and recharge ability. Nor does he or she understand the difference between usable capacity and full capacity.

Smart of Tesla to simplify all that, so the potential buyer doesn’t feel overwhelmed with technical info about a new type of car.

More importantly, the competition is so inefficient (particularly VW group) that people just getting into EVs will think that the corresponding Teslas will have less range than they actually do. It is smart for Tesla to move away from the kWh monikers since pack size is not the sole indicator of performance.

As I see it, the most important aspect of the change in nomenclature is the fact that the competition is so inefficient! The VW group boasts a 90kWh pack, but yet doesn’t go any faster or farther than the S75D!! For people just getting into EVs, they’ll be very confused and mislead. Pack energy capacity is not the sole indicator of performance, since Tesla isn’t the only viable player on the block anymore.

Model-S with 100 KWh has 335 mile range.
Model-X with 100 KWh has 295 mile range.

So 310 / 335 * 100 = 93% range for Model-S
So 270 / 295 * 100 = 92% range for Model-X

This means they still have 100 KWh and their battery is set to between 92 – 93 % range.
Or its possible that these vehicles have only 93 KWh battery and improvements in battery and motor makes them go 335 and 295 miles respectively.

Would owners be allowed to pay and have the car upgraded to the full 100 kWh?