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Will range increase substantially on Model S in 2015?

Will range increase substantially on Model S in 2015?

I am contemplating buying a Model S - 85kWh but read somewhere on a forum that the Model S might be upgraded to 400-500 mile range in 2015. Are there any clues from Tesla that this might happen and/or is it even likely to have such a big jump in range without significantly impacting the price? Because if the rumors are true, I would rather wait until 2015. Thanks.

Tâm | May 5, 2014

Tesla is usually tight-lipped on a specific number or time line.

It does go public that

1) it is possible for a longer range battery right now but the cost is prohibitive.

2) any improvement is incremental.

Rumors remain rumors for now!

Captain_Zap | May 5, 2014

It is all wishful thinking from members of the forum at this point.

We like to drop loud hints to Tesla about what we think might be a great "pie-in-the-sky" car. Sometimes they deliver.

minervo.florida | May 5, 2014

That range is not needed for most drivers. As Elon said, you are carrying around a lot of extra weight for it to be seldom, if ever needed.

Koz | May 5, 2014

It makes sense that they would develop a larger pack for the X or bump up the current pack sizes. From a pricing and sales perspective, a third larger size seems likely. From a cost and simplicity of operations, two sizes makes more sense. I'm guessing they offer a larger pack size in conjunction with the X. This would be a higher cost option. All speculation at this point and if one of the current pack sizes works well for you then there wouldn't be much advantage to waiting.

tes-s | May 5, 2014

Will computers be faster in 2015? Since I bought my MS 9 months ago, there are folding mirrors, parking sensors, more superchargers, etc. 19,000 happy miles; I'm glad I didn't wait.

It is technology and will continue to improve over time.

Andrew_OH_70D | May 5, 2014

I think for the vast majority of drivers, the current range is more than adequate. The Supercharger network obviates the need for larger battery packs.

I would rather see the price of the Model S and Model X dropped so that more people can afford them. This weekend I volunteered at a Green Energy ride and drive event. Every person wanted the car, but cited the price as the major drawback. When the Model E comes out, the Supercharger network should be fully built out. With 200 mile range, demand should be incredible.

CraigW | May 5, 2014

IMO, the Supercharger network is Elon's secret weapon against the car dealers and big oil. Once in they will be hard-pressed to do anything to stop Tesla. Car manufactures might as well pay Tesla an upfront fee, allowing their upcoming EVs to the Tesla network, instead of trying to build their own. An effective EV network will be a requirement, once Tesla has theirs built out.

TI Sailor | May 5, 2014

I believe I've read the 2 motors in the Model X will be different, with the front motor having less power but a "higher gear". I'm not an engineer but I take that to mean at highway cruising speeds the front motor will be used for its higher efficiency, e.g., improved range, while at lower speeds the rear motor will be used for its greater torque. Presumably the AWD Model S will leverage those differences as well.

thranx | May 5, 2014

@Tes-s;+1. If I'd kept waitin for the next computer upgrade, I'd still be working on a Zenith b&w laptop.

Get it now, and enjoy it, says I.

NO2PTRL | May 5, 2014

I say buy and enjoy this car now, why wait for the iPhone 8 when you can enjoy amazing technology right now.

Besides, in three to five years Tesla could provide an economic trade out for a new battery.

ghillair | May 5, 2014

Lets remember that Tesla is production constrained based on available batteries. If by 2020 they are selling 500k MEs then they will be using all of the batteries from the gigafactory.

To produce a bigger battery pack will mean a trade off with total number of cars that can be produced.

kawdennis | May 5, 2014

Kaptain_Zap. +1. I fell for that April 1st post about a $5,000 up grade with larger battery and it would go 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds. It took me about 10 seconds to realize it was April fools day

bevguy | May 5, 2014

An increased range for the S is unlikely anytime soon. Musk has stated that 400 mile range is possible now. But it would be expensive, take more batteries meaning fewer cars could be sold, and mean less performance due to the extra weight. Anything more than modest increase will wait for better batteries and cheaper batteries ( ie the gigafactory)
An increased range isn't needed as a selling point, there's a waiting list now.

AmpedRealtor | May 5, 2014

When Elon toured the EU a couple of months ago, during one of his QA sessions he specifically mentioned that higher capacity batteries may be available as soon as later this year. I don't think he would have said this if it weren't somewhere on the product roadmap.

I believe we will see higher range numbers for Model S in 2015, as higher energy density becomes achievable at the current price point. Tesla will need to keep the Model S fresh and attractive, and the most obvious way to do this is to improve its range without raising the price. I believe we will see a range bump with Model S 1.5, which will probably hit next year in 2015.

All speculation. :)

Jonathan D | May 5, 2014

If battery prices dropped so dramatically that it was feasible to have such a range at a reasonable price, you could always just upgrade the battery in a few years anyway, especially if they make it easy at a battery swap location.

Yme | May 5, 2014

What the people say..

Cheaper car and less range? Not so sure this is a good idea.

It should be easy to draw a parallel between sales figures for 60 vs 85 kW sales and the publics "need" for greater range.

I would think Tesla will adapt to the opportunity and deliver better range as soon as the possibly can.

hsadler | May 5, 2014

Seriously?
A company would say "we have a much better product coming out next year. But in the meantime, purchase this one - which will be obsolete by then." ???

carlk | May 5, 2014

I seriously doubt it since Model X to be released late 14'/early 15' is still spec'd at 85kWh and 60kWh. MS and MX range may be bumped up to 300~400 when ME with 200 range is released in 17' to justify the higher price though.

There is really no point of waiting. Same as PC's and smart phones there will always be newer and better models coming out, and even better models coming out after that. The good thing about MS is you likely will be able to exchange to a higher range new battery pack in the future at a cost much less than what we are paying now. That is if you need to do that.

NO2PTRL | May 5, 2014

I know that by 2018 the model S will be manufactured with a much better battery than today, let alone the overall improvements, but that didn't stop me from buying my P85 and enjoying it RIGHT NOW.

Battery experts are calling for a 8% to 10% improvement per year.
That could mean a 360 mile battery by 2016, but that's not enough to trade out my old one. Would wait for a 500 mile battery.

Tomorrow, everything is always better than today, but WHY wait?

Thom EM | May 5, 2014

Until there is a breakthrough in battery technology and pricing, don't hold your breath. The Model S battery is about as large as it can get physically, so more range would require a new technology or giving up some space. Until there is a new manufacturing capability (gigafactory?), cost will scale with larger range. You could get a current technology battery with 170 kWh capacity, but it will cost you $50,000-ish and won't fit in a Model S.

By the time a new technology becomes available, you can probably get an battery upgrade installed for much less than the cost of the entire battery, since the old one can be reconditioned (and resold). My service center told me this weekend that they are upgrading a Roadster battery for about $10,000.

NO2PTRL | May 5, 2014

"My service center told me this weekend that they are upgrading a Roadster battery for about $10,000."

There you go, with the 8% to 10% improvement in battery capacity every year on average, it won't be to many years until we can do the same to our MS's.

In the mean time, drive it like you stole it.

donaldmeacham1 | May 5, 2014

The current 85kWh battery provides me with 100% of my daily driving needs. My longest trip is 200 miles. I have a home at both ends of the trip so I don't charge anywhere but home. I make this trip 3-4 times per month. The rest of my driving is 160 miles per day or less. We don't do many longer trips in any vehicle.

eddiemoy | May 5, 2014

tesla isn't using the most dense 18650's out there as the cost is prohibative. if they were to increase the battery to 500miles, it would be the same form factor, just the cells would be using the higher density. again, it is possible now, but would you pay an extra 40-50k to get that extra range?

elon mention that there wont be a change to the battery density offered anytime soon. what ever that means!

mb30 | May 5, 2014

I think using the new tech (cell phone, computer etc...) and saying not to wait because you'll always be chasing the next thing is not really appropriate when talking about a $70k+ car. I upgrade my phone every year, whereas most people probably dont do the same for their car. I think if people really want to wait for the next major improvement they'll have to ride it out for the gigafactory. That will drive price down and will allow Tesla to offer higher range MSs in similar price points. I suspect that when E is released with maybe 48/60 pack options, you'll also have a 85/~120 option in the S. Giving maybe 200/260 for the E and 300/400 in the S. Of course im just talking out of my ass, but it seems to make sense to me :)

Mark K | May 5, 2014

To the essence of the OP's question -

Sometimes we are on the cusp of quantum improvement, and it makes sense to wait until just after the change.

For Model S, this is not one of those times.

The first improvement will be a higher capacity pack, but at a higher price. If you don't need the extra range, it's a waste of money.

After several years, the capacity of Model S at the current prices will drift higher, around the time of Model E.

In the meantime, that would be a lot of money to burn in gas for waiting.

The car is awesome today, and may even save your life.

Deferring isn't living well.

Pungoteague_Dave | May 5, 2014

@AR - "as higher energy density becomes achievable at the current price point. " Not going to happen in the usable near term. As eddiemoy says, density is fixed for now. And 2015 is a pipe dream. The recently revised and signed purchase agreement with Panasonic runs through 2017 and actually curved the price up on a per-cell basis.

Battery technology has been remarkably sticky and price-resistant since 1997, when the current technology was introduced. Unlike computer chips and scene technology, lithium battery technology hasn't improved much, and is not subject to the same technological leaps that we see in computers. It is a combination of chemistry and physics that can be packaged better, which may give us 30-40% more in the same space, but the kWh price will scale with output.

The only price reductions on the horizon depend on the gigafactory being built and implemented successfully. That will be 2017 at the very earliest, assuming construction starts this summer (doubtful), well past the Model X intro, and into the introduction of Gen III. Elon has said that Gen II will be based on the same battery technology that we have in the S, but not on a skateboard.

I would buy today's car today (and have done so). There will always be a better car tomorrow, and you can buy that one then. Meanwhile we have only a few years of eyes open to enjoy what's here, and waiting a year is one less year to drive an EV. You can never get that year back.

tes-s | May 5, 2014

@ghillair - is Tesla production still battery constrained? I thought they announced a deal with Panasonic that would alleviate that constraint.

PleasantonS | May 5, 2014

Buy the car now, knowing that in 10-15 years, when and if you need to replace the battery, it will be considerably cheaper and likely have twice the power/range. As others have indicated, you are not likely to see any kind of quantum leap in the short term and you can play the waiting game forever.

Red Sage ca us | May 5, 2014

Will range increase substantially on Model S in 2015?

No.

I believe it more likely that by 2017 the number of cells needed to provide a 60 kWh or 85 kWh storage capacity may diminish. So, a higher capacity battery pack may be offered during that year. As that is three years from now, if you can afford a Model S today, and want a Model S today, go ahead and buy a Model S... today.

100 kWh, 120 kWh, 135 kWh... Lots of speculation on forums about what the next step will be. Plenty of it made by yours truly. ;-)

I do believe that by 2020 a 170 kWh battery pack will be available for Tesla Motors vehicles at all price points.

My hope is that within 8-10 years a 220 kWh battery pack can be had.

2015? No.

mdemetri | May 5, 2014

Red Sage and AmpedRealtor are both likely correct. Range on the Model S will not increase in 2015. However, as AmpedRealtor outlined above, higher capacity batteries will likely be produced by Tesla by the end of the year. However, these will only be for the Model X so that it has a similar range as an 85kwh Model S. With an 85kwh pack, range is down ~10% in the Model X relative to Model S. So my prediction is that there will be a ~95kwh pack by the end of the year, but it will only be used on the Model X to get a 265 mile EPA rated range (i.e. same rated range as Model S).

Pungoteague_Dave | May 5, 2014

What part of the Model X preorder program are people missing? We knew that the Model S would be in 40, 60 and 85 form two years year before production. It was available for preorder reservation at that time, just as the Model X is now. And the Model X is specified as 60 or 85. Not 125 or whatever other crazy thing people want to dream about.

From the Model X specifications page:

http://www.teslamotors.com/modelx

"Battery Options
Model X will be offered with a 60 or 85 kWh battery."

I think I will take Tesla's word before all the fanbois around here. The Model X will mos def have less range than the S. More frontal area, greater wind resistance, heavier, two motors, same battery, nuff said.

mdemetri | May 5, 2014

PD - If we took the Tesla webpage as sacrosanct and never changing then there would be no superchargers, there would be a true a 40kwh Model S, there would be no P85+, there would be no parking sensors etc. Tesla has changed/added/deleted major features, including battery size, without any warning despite what was listed on the website. The 40kwh battery was listed for years before being deleted.

Does this mean that the Model X will have a slightly larger battery. No. But to dismiss it simply because it is not on the website fails to recognize how Tesla has operated the last few years.

The Model X reveal was well over two years ago. Things change over two years. For example, they deleted the non-all wheel drive. Moreover, if Tesla were going to have a bigger battery in the Model X, do you think they would put that on there website now? No way, it might kill Model S sales as everyone would expect that a similar upgrade to Model S is around the corner and wait. No, if MX is going to have a bigger battery, we will not know until the Sigs are asked to configure or even later.

carlk | May 5, 2014

@mdemetri I don't think that's the case. Tesla do keep the webpage up to date. They have changed AWD from optional to as base model recently when the plan changed. 60kWh and 85kWh is the current plan although it does not mean that will change.

Koz | May 5, 2014

Deleting non-AWD when the decision is made makes good business sense. It has no effect on current sales and accurately adjusts expectations ASAP. Not adding a larger pack size also makes similar business sense. It could affect current sales and does not negatively affect expectations by not exposing it yet. Model X buyers will not get upset later if it is added as long as they have a chance to choose it. For this reason, if they do pan to have it early in the X production run it wil be available from the beginning so sig buyers will have an opportunity to get it. Also if they do develop it and offer it on the X, there would be little reason not to also offer it for the S too.

mdemetri | May 5, 2014

carlk - the point is that we cannot rely on the webpage as being the final word on anything this long before production starts. Many changes were made to Model S before production and even during early production. The same can and likely will happen to Model X before production (and has already happened with AWD).

The argument for a slightly bigger battery in Model X (so as to get to 265 rated miles) is simple: Tesla cannot risk releasing a more expensive vehicle that is inferior to Model S, particularly when it comes to range. Range is what makes a Tesla a Tesla. A 60kwh Model X will only have a max range around ~185miles and that is when going ~60mph. Speed will effect range on Model X much more than Model S due to the higher drag coefficient. Therefore going 70-75mph in a 60kwh Model X will kill range much more than a Model S. This may create bad press about lower range and the potential of more newbie reporters running out of energy and flat bedding the car.

A slightly larger battery would also be consistent with the single digit higher price of Model X relative to Model S.

LEvans | May 5, 2014

Tesla should add the largest battery pack possible at a higher price for the highest-end trim level of the Model X. I think they will find out people are willing to pay more for extra range. They already discontinued the 40 kWh pack when few wanted to buy it.

I can't imagine holding back higher capacity ever making "business sense" when they can charge more for it. In fact, assuming they can add extra capacity to the largest battery pack, it makes no business sense to not do that and not charge more.

Each model, each iteration, each year, Tesla should build the best car possible.

Or someone else will.

Mark K | May 5, 2014

Mdemetri's logic is pretty impeccable.

Mark K | May 5, 2014

I expect the MX to be more expensive than Model S.

The AWD pushes each price point up by about 10K. The falcon doors and larger mass both add cost, as does the third row of seats.

Until the Gigafactory comes on line, they will likely focus on the premium segment of the market, which is reflected in the AWD-only decision.

If they decide to bump up the battery pack a bit, since MX will cost more than the current Model S, they can reconcile a capacity difference pretty readily.

Also works out nicely to offer a more expensive AWD Model S with the same bumped up pack.

Those holding out for such a bigger pack should figure on something like a 20K price bump for an AWD + boosted pack. As long as batteries are in short supply, Tesla should go after the highest value combos for which there is demand.

Unless you're a cost-no-object performance fanatic, the current Model S is a much better deal. And if you've got the bucks, buy a P85+ now, and upgrade to the next iteration when it does ship.

Downward price pressure won't happen so much until Gigafactory is on line with Model E.

Mark K | May 5, 2014

WEB_SRFR - well-reasoned calculus.

justineet | May 6, 2014

Faster Supercharging I believe will be the next thing you will see. Significant range markup is at least 3 years away in my opinion.

AmpedRealtor | May 6, 2014

@ PD,

A couple of things... first, I am simply parroting what Elon Musk said in Norway or wherever he was a couple of months ago. His statement is captured on video when he was on stage speaking to an audience. He clearly said that Tesla is on track to produce higher capacity batteries towards the end of this year. This was stated by the CEO himself as JB Straubel nodded in agreement. So that is my source. Very clearly this is in the product roadmap. It's a matter of public record.

Secondly, it matters not a whit that Tesla says the Model X will come with a 60 and 85 pack. If Model X rolls off the production line with a 67 and a 95 pack, I doubt anyone will complain. Tesla absolutely must keep the range of Model X the same or better than Model S. This will be impossible using the current battery capacities, so something bigger has to be used. I think this is basic common sense considering the added load of a 2nd motor and the higher drag of the car's larger profile.

Model X is due to arrive next year, so Musk's statement about higher capacity batteries later this year matches up very well with the expected time frame for Model X production. I think the writing is on the wall.

Pungoteague_Dave | May 6, 2014

So a fully optioned Model X will be over $150K? Rareifed air up there - lots of great SUV's for way less. I agree that range is an issue, but whatever range the X has, the S will always have more. They share an identical battery form and the same skateboard chassis. Any larger battery will fit either, so the X will always have comparative a range deficit.

I agree that a larger battery is better, and I will pay for it. But Elon has said (recently) that intensifying the existing battery line is not in the works. The recently signed Panasonic supply contract backs that up. The X is being locked down for production in the next few months. What we have is what we get.

Faster Supercharging doesn't add much from current levels for most people. There are very few Supercharges being performed these days - worldwide, less than the number of fill-ups at a single normal-volume gas station. The primary charging mode will remain home and work, with Supercharging for rare road trips. People who spend all their time on the road like salespeople will not be able to go EV until cars have 500+ mile range - too many forays off the Supercharger grid, no matter how well populated.

Brian H | May 6, 2014

carlk;
" carlk | May 5, 2014
...
60kWh and 85kWh is the current plan although it does not mean that will [not?] change.
___________

Elon's early price guess was "within 10%". That may still be a target or constraint.

justineet | May 7, 2014

@PD if current full charging is cut down to about 20 minutes max, even salespeople will adopt EVs

Koz | May 7, 2014

@AR

I agree with everything you say except the idea that the second motor must add additional load. It is possible, and likely IMO, for Tesla to implement the second motor with an overall reduced average load vs a single motor. One with optimized with gearing for lower speed and the other optimized for higher speeds is one way this could be accomplished. The electrical losses are related to the power flow in general and are percentages not fixed values.

Nic727 | September 24, 2015

I would like a 400 miles range (643 km), because my grand parents are living 600 km away from my home. However, I think the most important thing for now is to improve the recharge speed technology, because with a faster recharge, we will be able to do the 600 km with a small stop to recharge in 5 minutes.