The New Tesla Model S Has A Software-Locked Battery

Tesla Motors' recently face-lifted Model S is an expensive vehicle, even considering its ridiculous performance and zero carbon emissions. The Model S started life in Australia as a $100,000 car, but feature additions and exchange rate fluctuations meant that until today, you'd be paying around $130,000 for the entry-level 70kWh battery pack. Today, Tesla is driving the price back down to its starting point with a new 60kWh variant -- with a battery pack that can be unlocked to 75kWh capacity with a software code.

Tesla says that the new, cheaper Model S 60 and dual-motor 60D variant are for people "who would like to buy a Model S, but can more easily afford it only at a lower price point." The new 60kWh base model has a NEDC-rated 400km of range, a top speed of 210km/h, and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds. The all-wheel drive Model S boosts range to 408km, drops the 0-100 down to 5.4 seconds, but maintains the same top speed.

For another $12,800 at the time of purchase, buyers can unlock the 75kWh battery capacity -- but it's only a software unlock, with no additional hardware added to the vehicle. That same unlock can be requested after purchasing for $13,500. Says Tesla: "To provide customers even more flexibility over time, Model S 60 and 60D owners may later choose to upgrade their vehicles to a 75kWh battery with a software update, should they want to add to their car's battery capacity in the future."

The new Model S 60 costs $100,800 before on-road costs and any applicable state taxes, very close to the May 2014 cost of the original 60kWh Model S sold in Australia on the vehicle's launch -- with the battery locked by software, it's very similar to the original Model S 60 but has slightly higher range and a faster 0-100 speed, as well as Autopilot hardware.

The re-jig of the model lineup now means that Tesla has two rear-wheel drive Model S variants -- the $109,465 Model S 60 and $126,105 Model S 75. Four all-wheel drive variants range from the $119,214 Model S 60D, through the $135,855 Model S 75D and $154,835 Model S 90D to the $193,964 Model S P90D, which tops out at $234,135 in "Max Performance" trim. (All prices are based on a NSW purchase including registration and luxury car tax costs.) [Tesla Motors]



    It's not like the extra "locked" batteries will be dormant. the software will be spreading the load out over the battery to extend the life over the entire battery system. It will most likely rotate which cells are in service. opting for the unlock will give you more range but will likely shorten the system life span.

      No it won't. They simply limit the charge to 80% which is actually good for the battery, not bad

        they already do actively manage state of charge between stacks.

        Agreed that lower state of charge (<4.2 V max) and discharge (>3.2V min) (for garden variety Li-Ion cells) does increase life expectancy. But the thing that extends life the most is keeping the pack cool, reducing the charge/discharge RATE of the cells is vital... No-one (in the know) said that "fast charging" a pack was good for it.

        The thing here is How in the name of ?exclusivity? does a software lock allow Tesla to offer the car at a lower price point?? It is an Exclusivity-Con, those who want to feel extra special pay a lot more for not a lot more..

        As to the specifics of how they will manage it all, I am sure no-one here really has that inside information.

    Wow... I reckon that decision might blow up in Tesla's face. Unlocking of hardware features is usually a bit of a dodgy method of profit making in my opinion, and in this case you are carrying around all that extra battery weight without being able to use it so it's actually an additional negative of you haven't upgraded. Next we'll be seeing a sunroof that opens only after you pay for the upgrade.

      The first micropayment car (co-produced by Zynga), 30c to roll a window up or down, $1 to open a door, headlights costs 50c each time you turn them on...

        Wow, next thing you know it will cost you to fill it up with petrol!

      No it won't. The auto industry is one of the last industries that try to force you to buy a completely new car just to get a few minor upgrades.

      If you buy a computer and want an upgrade, you don't necessarily HAVE to buy an entire new system. If you buy a house and want a new kitchen, no-one forces you to buy an ENTIRE new house just to get your dream kitchen. If you have a nice surround sound system but want additional features in the amp, no-one puts a gun to your head and says the speakers HAVE to be replaced as well.

      This is a big, big win for consumers.

        Except for as long as cars have been around people have been merrily customizing them. I replaced the old 2.5 diesel in my old rodeo with a 2 year old 2.8 Turbo diesel. Hell you can chip lots of cars to improve performance and have been able to do so for years. May not be official (in most cases) but you can certainly do it.

        It's more like buying an Nvidia card and discovering that they're disabling a bunch of the shaders or pipelines. Then later on they offer a firmware update that enables them.

        unless of course if you buy a Mac, or a "Flagship" mobile phone...

        I bought a 4 bedroom house but only paid for the 3 bedroom model so the 4th room is there I just can't use it.

    Anyone taking bets on how long it takes hackers to crack the software code and share it with the internets?

      I doubt most people would be willing to void the warranty on a 100K+ car.

        Depends on whether it was easily (and undetectably) reversible.

        If you think people won't try and hack this, you're crazy.

          Tesla's have had software unlockable features for years. Has anyone done it yet?

            They have now.

            They have now.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now