Tesla’s Betting You’ll Pay $9,000 for a Software Upgrade

By David Ingold David Ingold
June 10, 2016

On Thursday, Tesla Motors re-introduced the Model S60–a cheaper version of its all-electric sedan that was discontinued last April. The new S60 starts at $66,000 and has a range of about 208 miles. For $8,500 more, customers can choose an upgraded version, called the S75, which can travel about 40 more miles per charge, according to the company’s website.

So the upgraded model has a bigger battery, right? Nope. The two versions of the car are identical and sport the same 75 kWh battery. The only difference is that the software on the lower-end version limits the capacity of the S60’s battery, crippling its range. In fact, owners can instantly transform a lowly S60 into an S75 at any time for a fee of $9,000 ($500 more than if they’d initially bought it that way). They don’t even have to bring the car to a service center. Tesla flips the software switch remotely.

Tesla offers similar options for its autopilot feature – the cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors come standard on a new Model S. But the feature only works if the software is added to the vehicle—a $2,500 upgrade at initial purchase, or over-the-air at anytime in the future for $3,000.

Car buyers have always been able to load up new models with expensive features—bigger wheels, a better sound system—but Tesla is testing whether customers will be willing to pay thousands of dollars more for permission to take full advantage of the equipment that’s already on the car.

Autopilot software

+$2,500

(+$3,000 if done later)

Base Model S60

$66,000

(Before federal tax credit)

Upgraded battery

+$8,500

(+$9,000 if done later)

Base model with

software upgrades

$77K – $78K

Autopilot software

+$2,500

(+$3,000 if done later)

Base Model S60

$66,000

(Before federal tax credit)

Upgraded battery

+$8,500

(+$9,000 if done later)

Base model with

software upgrades

$77K – $78K

On Thursday, Tesla Motors re-introduced the Model S60–a cheaper version of its all-electric sedan that was discontinued last April. The new S60 starts at $66,000 and has a range of about 208 miles. For $8,500 more, customers can choose an upgraded version, called the S75, which can travel about 40 more miles per charge, according to the company’s website.

 

So the upgraded model has a bigger battery, right? Nope. The two versions of the car are identical and sport the same 75 kWh battery. The only difference is that the software on the lower-end version limits the capacity of the S60’s battery, crippling its range. In fact, owners can instantly transform a lowly S60 into an S75 at any time for a fee of $9,000 ($500 more than if they’d initially bought it that way). They don’t even have to bring the car to a service center. Tesla flips the software switch remotely.

 

Tesla offers similar options for its autopilot feature – the cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors come standard on a new Model S. But the feature only works if the software is added to the vehicle—a $2,500 upgrade at initial purchase, or over-the-air at anytime in the future for $3,000.

 

Car buyers have always been able to load up new models with expensive features—bigger wheels, a better sound system—but Tesla is testing whether customers will be willing to pay thousands of dollars more for permission to take full advantage of the equipment that’s already on the car.

 

Autopilot software

+$2,500

(+$3,000 if done later)

Upgraded battery

+$8,500

(+$9,000 if done later)

Base Model S60

$66,000

(Before federal tax credit)

Base model with

software upgrades

$77K – $78K

Below, a comparison of what the $8,500 battery software upgrade gets you on the rear-wheel drive Model S.

Range

Price

0-60 Acceleration

Top speed

Model S60

208 miles

$66,000

5.5 seconds

130 mph

249 miles

$74,500

5.5 seconds

130 mph

Model S75

Range

Price

Model S60

208 miles

$66,000

249 miles

$74,500

Model S75

0-60 Acceleration

Top speed

Model S 60

5.5 seconds

130 mph

Model S 75

5.5 seconds

130 mph

Range

208 miles

Model S60

249 miles

Model S75

Price

Model S60

$66,000

$74,500

Model S75

0-60 Acceleration

5.5 seconds

Model S60

5.5 seconds

Model S75

Top speed

130 mph

Model S60

130 mph

Model S75

The battery upgrade is also available on Tesla’s all-wheel drive “D” variant of the Model S, which adds a second motor to the front of the vehicle, increasing acceleration and overall range.

Range

Price

0-60 Acceleration

Top speed

Model S 60D

218 miles

$71,000

5.2 seconds

130 mph

Model S 75D

$79,500

5.2 seconds

130 mph

259 miles

Range

Price

Model S 60D

218 miles

$71,000

Model S 75D

$79,500

259 miles

0-60 Acceleration

Top speed

Model S 60D

5.2 seconds

130 mph

Model S 75D

5.2 seconds

130 mph

Range

Model S 60D

218 miles

259 miles

Model S 75D

Price

$71,000

Model S 60D

$79,500

Model S 75D

0-60 Acceleration

Model S 60D

5.2 seconds

5.2 seconds

Model S 75D

Top speed

Model S 60D

130 mph

Model S 75D

130 mph