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. It 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.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.