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Power Transportation Businesses Technology

Tesla Discontinuing Model S With 60 KWh Battery (electrek.co) 53

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: April 16th, 2017 will be the last day to order the Model S 60 and 60D. The vehicles were the least expensive models that customers could purchase from Tesla -- starting at $68,000. The Model S 60 and 60D were equipped with 75 kWh battery packs software-locked to 60 kWh. Owners were able to unlock the remaining 15 kWh through a software update for a fee at any time after the purchase if they decided that they wanted more capacity. Tesla says that they are making the change because most customers ultimately end up upgrading to 75 kWh and they want to streamline the ordering process. It comes as Tesla is preparing to launch the Model 3, which should start at $35,000, but higher performance versions are expected to be offered at higher prices closer to the price of the Model S. It would make sense for Tesla to try to create a bigger gap between the two vehicles.
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Tesla Discontinuing Model S With 60 KWh Battery

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  • "Owners were able to unlock the remaining 15 kWh through a software update".

    What'd happen if it was hacked - explosions? Fires? Crashes?
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      What'd happen if it was hacked - explosions? Fires? Crashes?

      Well, if you hack up a Li-Ion battery yes, fire and explosion are two possibilities. Even alkaline batteries have those warnings not to puncture them.

  • All of my Disgust. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2017 @08:39PM (#54063089)

    Owners were able to unlock the remaining 15 kWh through a software update for a fee at any time after the purchase if they decided that they wanted more capacity.

    I guess you really don't own the car then.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sure you do. Intel and AMD disable parts of processors to fill lower end demand all the time, because it is cheaper than making a separate low end version.

      You can sell the car as the S60 you bought it as, so what's the problem?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Artificially crippling hardware may produce a profit, but it is a crime against nature. Others also doing it, doesn't make it right. The practice unnecessarily increases the environmental impact of the product, as many will be prematurely retired. (Note, while AMD may do this, Intel is much, much worse about crippling functional hardware, including features which should be standard like ECC.)

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:19PM (#54063491)

      You think ICEs are much different?

      Engine companies will come up with a common set of iron and sell you different power ratings.

      Even then a wide range of engine ratings will share at minimum an engine block, pistons, etc.

      For example the Caterpillar C13 can be bought with a rating 385.0 bhp - 520.0 bhp. It make take 2 sets of turbos & injectors to cover that range but for the most part it's all just a software change.

    • I guess you really don't own the car then.

      Of course you do. You are free to throw away Tesla's management hardware and software and develop your own.

      Guess what? Many cars are now delivered with an infotainment system capable of navigation whether you pay for it or not, because it would cost more to distribute GPS modules to dealers and have them install them than to simply integrate them into every system. So when you buy those cars without navigation, and then add it later, the dealer just hands you an SD card or maybe installs it for you in a slo

    • Of course you do. You can do what you want with the car. That doesn't mean the manufacturer needs to provide it to you out of the box with a spec higher than what you paid for.

  • It would make sense for Tesla to try to create a bigger gap between the two vehicles.

    Would it? While the S and 3 are both electrics, the S and 3 are not the same size, do not have the same amount of interior volume, do not have the same maximum seating configuration.

    I can see a family, wanting seating for six including a couple of kids, not being able to afford the Model S 75 or 75D, and not finding the Model 3 acceptable in any configuration. I can see some taller or otherwise bigger people not being comfortable in a Model 3 but fitting into a Model S.

    For a long time, automakers sold hig

    • It would make sense for Tesla to try to create a bigger gap between the two vehicles.

      Would it?

      Yes.

      For a long time, automakers sold high-end, mid-line, and low-end vehicles in all of their chassis configurations. Sometimes they had different makes to achieve this, and sometimes they had more than one model built on a given "body", and sometimes both.

      Yes, and they are now moving away from this model. A platform might be shared between multiple models, but it's not the same chassis with some fender and badge engineering any more. It's the same overall design, but it's not the same car. For instance, the Beetle is built on the Golf platform, but it's clearly not a Golf.

      If Tesla wants to be a volume manufacturer (and this is admittedly not knowing if they want to or not) then they will need to figure out how to cater to those buyers that aren't going to be able to afford the higher-end cars but still need cars that are bigger than their smallest ones.

      Sooner or later, they are going to have to bring out a minivan or similar. It's a segment that refuses to die because there is a clear need for it. It's a segment that I expect to grow

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Crossovers now largely play the role that minivans used to. And Tesla has made their high end in that market, the Model X. They're planning to unveil the lower-end Model Y crossover in 2018 and bring it to market in 2019.

        They're doing the right thing in differentiating their vehicles - keeping the upper end while creating newer versions that progressive push further into the lower end, as the economics support it. So, for example, the new Roadster is supposed to be unveiled in 2019, which likely be their h

        • Crossovers now largely play the role that minivans used to.

          No, they largely play the role that station wagons used to. Minivans are still needed by families with a bunch of kids who do a bunch of stuff, because crossovers don't have enough cargo capacity for their crap. There's still a dedicated segment buying them, too. But my point was more than as people drive the car less, they're going to want to explore that interior space more, and I expect to see the segment to grow again. A minivan is basically an ideal vehicle to electrify, because it's already got a big

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Sorry, but the market has spoken on this one. Crossover sales have been crushing minivan sales. Minivan consumers by and large switched to crossovers. The best selling minivan, the Dodge Caravan, is outsold by a half dozen different crossover models.

            • Sorry, but the market has spoken on this one.

              That's not how it works. The market changes its mind again and again as technology changes society.

              Minivan consumers by and large switched to crossovers.

              Minivan consumers by and large switched to actual SUVs, crossovers don't have enough room for their stuff. Or, they switched to a pickup. Here in the USA we buy massive loads of four-door short bed pickups. It's car customers who are switching to crossovers. But that's not really much of a switch, since crossovers are just tall cars.

              • by Rei ( 128717 )

                Minivan consumers by and large switched to actual SUVs, crossovers don't have enough room for their stuff.

                Not according to actual consumer surveys.

                Yes, it's always possible that consumers might want to at some point switch back to crossovers. They might also want to switch back to station wagons, or horseless carriage-style buggies. But with the market as it is, minivans are a much smaller market than crossovers, and thus it's only reasonable that Tesla would focus on crossovers rather than minivans. Shou

      • Sooner or later, they are going to have to bring out a minivan or similar. I

        They already have a minivan. They call it the Model X.

        I know I know they call it an SUV. An SUV that cannot go off road. An SUV I can't put anything on top of like a kayak, surf-board, or hang glider. It has no place on a farm or a construction site. An SUV that will run out of charge when you get to a remote site.

        Great for soccer moms. Good for executives to drive clients around in. But it is not an SUV it is a minivan.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:12PM (#54063727) Journal

    The fact that the ability to hold more of a charge is something merely unlocked via a costly software update means Tesla sold you a 75kWh capable battery all along but gimped it artificially.

    From the strict sense of "getting X when you pay Y amount", that makes perfect sense. (Tesla is essentially giving you a price break on a Model S60 or 60D by selling you the same car they normally charge a higher price for, and letting you pay the difference when you want to unlock that extra charging capacity.)

    BUT .... when I buy something as expensive as a new car? I guess I expect all the physical equipment I get in it to fully function. Tesla is treating all of this like a computer on wheels that you buy and do various software upgrades to.

    From Tesla's standpoint, I can't imagine they're actually losing money on every S60 or 60D sold, with the hopes those owners will eventually buy the software upgrade that forces them to pay back the rest of what the car was actually worth. The fact they offered these tells me that they can, indeed, sell the car at a reasonable profit with the 75kWh battery in it, but at the S60 or 60D price. Then, the rest is pure profit when those customers opt for the upgrade.

    In the auto industry, the usual situation is -- any time a manufacturer artificially holds back some capability of a vehicle, the aftermarket finds ways to offer relatively low-cost ways to remove those restrictions. (Custom tuning of factory ECUs and transmission control units is a HUGE business.)

    I'm wondering when we'll start seeing performance shops offering their own, cheaper unlock/re-flashes for Teslas?

    • The fact that the ability to hold more of a charge is something merely unlocked via a costly software update means Tesla sold you a 75kWh capable battery all along but gimped it artificially.

      This is something that IBM did for many decades in the mainframe space -- and maybe still does, dunno. You buy a mainframe with X CPUs, but it may actually have 2X or 4X in the box. The "extras" are turned off, and you can turn them on by paying an upgrade fee. For many years turning them on required a service visit, but by the 90s they could do it by sending a cryptographically-signed authorization.

      I never understood the model in that space, either, but apparently it made sense to someone.

    • I'm wondering when we'll start seeing performance shops offering their own, cheaper unlock/re-flashes for Teslas?

      The problem with Teslas software, Apples IOS or any other walled gardens is that to make your own modifications requires giving up on both functionality and security updates

    • BUT .... when I buy something as expensive as a new car? I guess I expect all the physical equipment I get in it to fully function.

      What's not fully functioning? You bought and paid for a 60kw system and you got a 60kw system. Fully functional. The fact that it is capable of more has nothing to do with the market, the device, or how much you paid for it. The same is done in $350000 spectrum analysers, and sub $100 computer processors.

      The fact that this is happening brings down the price at the low end, and allows for an easy upgrade to the next level. Frankly I find it better than any alternative, which is to pay more money for everythi

      • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

        I understand that I "bought and paid for a 60kw system" but the fact remains that when I did so, I wound up driving around with a 75kw capable battery in the car that I'm not getting the full use of. It's capable of giving me more driving range. Only an artificial software restriction holds it back.

        I agree it may be a situation where it's cheaper than the alternative of dealing with 2 different physical batteries to have to stock and swap into cars where an owner wants to upgrade the capacity. But I think

        • So there's only benefits to you.

          Speaking of the aftermarket there's a good write-up on HaD of a guy who reverse engineered the interface to the Telsa motor and was driving his car wheels directly from a little microcontroller.

          This is also a benefit to you.

          Then there's the all the other car manufacturers... they've done the same thing for the past 30 years. Have you not heard of the ECU chipping industry? Heck my dad bought a chip for a few hundred $ that gave him a lovely 20kw increase in power on his car.

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        But it does mean that owners with the 60kWh version are driving a car with a 25% heavier than necessary battery - not a great thing on a car with a limited range.

        • Or maybe it means the owners with a 60kWh car are driving with a battery pack that will be 25% less loaded due to preventing cell death due to high charging cycles. A great thing on a car powered by a device with a limited life expectancy.

          But really what you are arguing is that someone bought a car expecting it to do more than the advertised range. Remember you got EXACTLY what you bought, and EXACTLY what was advertised. Where the weight is distributed in which components is entirely irrelevant.

  • This is standard procedure in the computer industry and has been since forever. I've driven Teslas for four years and I describe the car as a computer with wheels as peripherals. I'm convinced that this is the future of the auto industry so this will become standard practice. It's just much simpler from the software point of view to have a single code base.
  • I expect that the 75kWh battery constrained to 60kWh max discharge lasts a lot longer that way

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      I expect that the 75kWh battery constrained to 60kWh max discharge lasts a lot longer that way

      Maybe they add code to make sure they last the same amount of time or when set to 60kWh, the battery does not last as long.

      • I assume they just never quite fully charge the battery, and also never let it discharge all the way though software. So the battery will likely last longer because it will go through less extreme charge cycles, which could actually result in less warranty costs for the 60 kwh model. Though I'll guess is any savings to Tesla is much less than the price difference between the models.

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