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]

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