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Culture / Cars

Billionaire Elon Musk’s Electric Car Vision Gets More Affordable

New ‘Cheaper’ Models Start at Only $67,000

BY Jim Shi // 06.15.16

While Tesla-philes wait with bated breath the arrival of the Model 3, the phenom battery-electric car company is hoping to whet some initial appetites by re-introducing the Model S 60 — now the most affordable Tesla in Elon Musk’s empire.

Perhaps acknowledging the potential for falling Model S sales once the Model 3 arrives, or simply seeking to further broaden the market appeal of its flagship sedan, the introduction of two new — and more affordable — Model S editions is sure to appeal to many. 

The new Model S 60, which replaces the Model S 70, will start at $67,200 including destination, making it the most affordable new Tesla today, while its dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Model S 60D sibling starts at $72,200. Both of those figures are before any federal, state or local incentives.

While the 60 model is sure to generate newfound interest in the Model S, at $67,200, it’s still more than twice the average selling price of a new car in the U.S. market. Tesla, for its part, calls the new car “competitive” and puts the car “in the $50,000 range” in terms of real cost after incentives and fuel savings. That compares to a $90,700 price of admission for the Model S 90D. 

Despite their substantially lower stickers, Tesla notes the 60/60D feature set includes a comprehensive selection of active safety features as well as the firm’s Autopilot hardware.

As their name implies, both of these new plug-in sedan variants feature a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack that Tesla says will give each a nominal EPA per-charge range in excess of 208 miles and a top speed of 130 miles per hour. It will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Those who wish to extend that figure to 249 miles at time of order can upgrade the usable battery capacity to 75kWh via a simple flip-the-switch software upgrade — essentially becoming a Model S 75 for an additional cost of $8,500 ($9,000 if purchased later).

Like other members of the current Model S family, these two newcomers also will benefit from regular free over-the-air software updates to enhance functionality and improve the basic driving experience. 

The Model S 60 initially offered at a price of $69,000 was discontinued in 2015 because more buyers tended toward the faster, more powerful and more expensive battery-motor combinations. But this version of the Model S 60 is likely to enjoy a better reception because Tesla’s sales and reputation have grown in the last two years. It’s also a matter of shaping the mindset of making more of its vehicles accessible to a wider audience (translation: build volume). 

Of note: the Model 3, at its base price, will not qualify for the free, long-distance supercharging network. The new Model S 60, it appears, will be able to take advantage of those free charging stations.

In the first quarter, Tesla produced 15,510 vehicles, including 12,851 Model S vehicles and 2,659 units of its Model X sport utility vehicle. The company says it expects to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles for all of 2016.

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