Tesla Introduces Cheaper Model S Ahead of Model 3 Release

June 9, 2016, 2:50 PM UTC
Courtesy of Tesla

Tesla is introducing two new cheaper versions of its flagship electric car, the Model S sedan, as it seeks to reach a broader audience more than a year before its mass-market $35,000 Model 3 car will become available.

The automaker announced Thursday it is bringing back the Model S 60—the number indicates the battery pack size—but with a twist. The sedan will actually have a 75-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery pack with software that limits it to 60-kWh. Tesla discontinued the Model S 60 last year.

Customers who buy this new Model S 60 or the all-wheel drive version, the Model 60D, can later choose to upgrade the vehicle to the larger pack size with a software update.

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The new Model S 60, which will start at $66,000, will have 210 miles of range with a top speed of 130 miles per hour. The all-wheel drive version will start at $71,000. Both versions will come equipped with the same safety features and hands-free Autopilot hardware that is in the other more expensive versions.

This isn’t the first time Tesla (TSLA) has offered a Model S 60. Way back in 2012, when Tesla first introduced the Model S, it was available with this battery pack size at a base price of $69,900. So it was actually more expensive than this new version of the Model S 60, which now accelerates faster with an improved interior as well as the availability of all-wheel drive.

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The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is constantly tweaking the Model S sedan, its bestselling all-electric car. But usually these improvements or changes have been accomplished via over-the-air software updates, which fix bugs or add new features to the car, including a semi-autonomous driving feature known as autopilot.

In April, Tesla tweaked the actual design of the Model S to look a little more like its sister car, the Model X crossover. The front fascia of the Model S now has a similar design as the Model X, which was introduced last year. It also has adaptive LED headlights.