Tesla Drops 70 kWh Battery For Model X


Last week, anyone who wanted to buy a Telsa Model X SUV had three choices — a dual motor version with a 70 kWh battery known as the 70D, a dual motor version with a 90 kWh battery known as the 90D, or a high performance dual motor version known as the P90D. Today, only the P90D remains. Over the weekend, Tesla removed all reference to the 70D and the 90D from its website according to Teslarati. It still lists an all wheel drive version of the car but with no reference to battery size.

Tesla  Model X

Why was the change made? Tesla never talks about such things, but the people who post at the Tesla Motors Club forum have a few ideas. First, only 7% of Model X customers ordered the 70 kWh battery. None of those cars have been manufactured yet. It doesn’t make economic sense for the company to offer a version that few people want. But there’s more to it than that.

Thursday night, Tesla will take the wraps off its Model 3 for the first time. That car is rumored to have a 60 kWh battery and 200 miles of range. A few weeks ago, a well know Tesla hacker reported he had found a reference to a new 100 kWh battery buried deep inside the software of his Model S. The Model S currently is available with either a 70 kWh or 90 kWh battery. It seems unlikely Tesla wants to build and stock 60, 70, 90 and 100 kWh batteries.

If the new top level battery is going to be the 100 kWh unit and the Model X is no longer available with a 70 kWh option, that suggests the new lineup will be 60, 80 and 100 kWh options. Some think Tesla does not want the Model 3 to have a battery that is only slightly less powerful than the one available in the larger and more profitable Model S.┬áIt doesn’t want people to defer buying a Model S in order to get nearly the same performance for considerably less money later. Giving the Model S an 80 kWh battery as the basic option would make good sense by that analysis.

The entry level Model 3 reportedly will list for $35,000. It will probably have rear wheel drive only. Most observers expect a dual motor, all wheel drive version to be an option. They also expect buyers will have a choice of a larger battery as well. The step between the 60 kWh entry level battery and the 70 kWh unit currently available in the Model S is too small. That means the optional battery should be at least 80 kWh, the reasoning goes.

Rumors abound that a price increase for the Model S is coming in April. Most people expect the new 100 kWh battery will be announced at that time. Many also think a new entry level battery will be part of the price increase. Tesla added $3,000 to the price of the Model S last year when it boosted its base battery from 60 kWh to 70 kWh. It could do the same again if it decides to make an 80 kWh battery standard on the base Model S.

The one thing we know for sure is that there is plenty of news about Tesla coming in the next few weeks.

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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Raphael Sturm

    There can be some easy calculations made, if they don’t use a totally new pack, which is of course an option.

    If they used the old packs architecture the top range battery would consist of 16 modules. With a total energy of around 100kWh that would give each module 6.25 kWh.
    Now the current 70 has 14 modules, what would give it 87.5 kWh with the new cells, or less if they take the 60kWh approach and leave some cells out in each module.
    If it were a 87.5, they would probably call it 85, just to keep some distance from the pricier 100D.
    If they would increase the voltage of each module, maybe to decrease charging times and internal resistance losses, they could also build a 12 module battery, with 3/4 the Voltage of the 100D, which would come in at 75kWh and a 10 module one with 62.5kWh and 62.5% of the 100D pack voltage (which would be an appropriate size for the base M3).
    In that case, Tesla should have to increase the total Voltage of the 100D to 550-600V.
    One benefit would be, that all cars would draw the same amperage from the charger a disadvantage might be, that the voltage of the superchargers must be increased.

    Of course thats just pure speculation, but it would make sense to use the same modules in all of their cars. Which of course does not mean that they might not change the packs architecture completely, which in turn could amount to lots of different possibilities for pack sizes.

    • Steve Hanley

      A very detailed and useful analysis, sir. Thanks.

      Speculation is what drives a lot of the buzz about Tesla. There never seems to be any shortage of it, either. ; – )

      • Raphael Sturm

        Very true. Its a bit like a puzzling but you don’t have all the parts. I sometimes think Tesla gives out just enough hints that we can speculate, but not enough that we might get it right. I guess I will be wrong about all of it, but I have two more days to puzzle before I can check if I got at least a bit right.

        • Steve Hanley

          Yup. They are master at dribbling out information to keep people’s interest level high. It’s one thing to do this for a $600 phone, but to do it for an automobile is unheard of.

          I have nothing but respect and admiration for Elon Musk for all he has done, most of it while going against the tide. But I still think he has more than a bit of PT Barnum about him. A very interesting fellow.

  • Steve Hanley

    Update: The 90 kWh and 70 kWh batteries are now displayed on the Tesla website again. Is it possible that someone with keys to the server didn’t check with the people upstairs before making changes to the site? That seems very un-Tesla like.

    The plot thickens…….

    • Mason

      Probably a web developer made a mistake. The mistake was caught either by automated tests or user feedback and then reverted. This kind of stuff happens even at companies like Tesla. Btw I would like to clarify that the software in the car undoubtedly has much stricter QA controls and testing before being released.

      • Steve Hanley

        That’s good to know! : – )

        Even though the site has been restored, I still think Tesla has something up its sleeve with regard to batteries. It just doesn’t want to make it official yet.

        • Mason

          For sure. I would expect near constant improvement in battery options as they lower costs through scale and do R&D

          • Steve Hanley

            There are already rumors on the internet that one version of the new Model 3 will have 300 miles of range and a 0-60 time of 4 seconds. Not going to get that kind of performance with a 60 kWh battery.

            The scuttlebutt is that an 80 kWh battery is lurking somewhere in the wings. When it will be introduced is unknown, of course. But the glitch with the website earlier this week pretty clearly indicates SOMETHING is afoot at Mother Tesla!