It took Tesla long enough. The start-up automaker has filled its first reservation orders with its 85-kilowatt-hour Model S for two reasons: 1) Its performance is far more impressive than its smaller-battery stablemates and 2) with the money coming from the more expensive models, Tesla has a bigger buffer before trying to meet its 20,000 cars per year sales target.
But Tesla Motors has finally gotten its 60-kilowatt-hour version of its Model S sedan certified for 2013. And if you’re in line for one of those instead of the 85-kWh versions that were making the rounds during Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year testing, you’re in luck.
The cheaper version is actually more efficient.
In mixed driving, the EPA has certified the Model S 60 kWh at a 95 mpg equivalent. The 85-kWh version gets 89 mpg-e. What that means is that the version with the smaller battery will be able to achieve 208 miles of range on a charge; the more powerful version musters 57 more miles.
Initially, Tesla had estimated that its 85 kWh version would get 300 miles to a charge; the EPA found that real-world numbers suggest that number to have been 35 miles optimistic. The 60 kWh Model S was anticipated to have 230 miles of range.
However, per Tesla’s Facebook page, father-son duo David and Adam Metcalf were able to take their Model S 85 kWh on a 423.5 miles. As they say, your mileage may vary.
Tesla has been riding a wave of fanfare since winning a string of awards, gradually rolling out different versions of its sleek sports sedan. The first up was the 85-kWh Performance Signature Series. That model cost upwards of $84,900 including a $7,500 federal tax break, but its performance put it on par with similarly sporty–and pricey–models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Next up was the $69,900 Model S with the 85-kWh battery pack. The $59,900 60-kWh version is rolling out now, and a 40-kWh model will be rolling out in the next few weeks. The base model will start at $49,900 and is anticipated to boast a driving range somewhere around 10-percent lower than Tesla’s 160-mile projection, based on the models that have already been certified. Note that all prices listed assume the $7,500 tax break.
All base models will have a $2,500 price increase on January 1, 2013, to cope with inflation that has occurred since Tesla set prices in 2009.
But even at nearly $60,000, if Tesla can keep quality and luxury close to its competitors, it may prove to be the electric car that finally breaks into the auto market as a mainstream success.
Sources: FuelEconomy.gov, Tesla