Tesla Adds New Top and Entry Versions of Model S Sedan

AutoReuters

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) plans to offer new versions of its battery-powered Model S sedan, including a $70,000 entry version and a top-of-the-line edition with longer range and better performance, the company said on Friday.

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The new 70kWh, single-motor Model S is priced $5,000 less than the current entry model, the dual-motor Model S 70D.

At the top of the series, Tesla will offer a 90kWh battery pack upgrade to the single-motor Model S 85 and the dual-motor 85D and P85D. Existing owners will pay about $5,000 for the upgrade. The new Model S 90D and P90D will be priced $10,000 higher than the comparable 85kWh versions.

The 90kWh battery pack will provide a range between charges of nearly 300 miles on the highway at a steady speed of 55 miles per hour, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in a conference call. That would mark a roughly 5 percent increase in range from the 85kWh models.

The performance-focused P90D, with upgraded battery and electronics, will be able to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, in what Musk termed "ludicrous mode." That would make it quicker than many Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotic, gasoline-powered European sports cars that cost thousands of dollars more.

The Model S P90D will deliver a combined 753 horsepower from its two motors. Top speed will be electronically limited to 155 miles per hour.

Musk said an even faster, more powerful car, a successor to the original Tesla Roadster, will arrive in about four years. He joked that the new model would be capable of "maximum plaid" speed, an oblique reference to the Mel Brooks spoof movie "Spaceballs."

Musk said the 90kWh battery pack would be offered on the upcoming Model X crossover, which he said is "on track" to begin production "in a few months."

The company's next product, the compact Model 3, remains on schedule to be introduced in "just over two years," he said.

Tesla is running slightly behind schedule in preparing a new version of its operating system software, Musk indicated.

Version 7.0, which Tesla had planned to release as a public beta in late June, now should be ready around mid-August, he said.

That version will include Tesla's much-publicized autopilot software, which will give the Model S limited ability to operate on the highway in semi-automated mode.

In late afternoon trading, Tesla shares were up 2.7 percent to $273.90.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Leslie Adler and Meredith Mazzilli)