60 or 85 kwh battery for my new Model S ?

60 or 85 kwh battery for my new Model S ?

I am evaluating the trade-off between $ and range of the 60 and 85 kwh batteries for my new Model S; any sage advice would be much appreciated.

HansJ | 20 février 2013

Do you live near any existing (or planned) supercharges?
How often do you drive more than 140 miles without stopping for an hour or more?
Do you ever need to drive more than 185 miles without stopping?

mcptwo | 20 février 2013

The 60 Kwh battery Ideal Range is 230 miles at maximum charge. It is recommended by Tesla that you not normally charge it over 90% to 207 miles of Ideal Range. I have only had my 85 Kwh car about 2 weeks, and with 70 mph average freeway driving it looks to me like I am getting about 2/3 of Ideal Range. So the 208 x .67 = 139 miles. If you are within say 125 miles of a supercharger, after going there you could go at the most about 70 more miles each way from the supercharger, or 140 miles absolutely maximum to the next supercharger.

Otherwise get the 85Kwh battery which will charge to 270 miles Ideal Range, or driving the way most of us do about 181 miles....

Jvaret | 20 février 2013

See my 60kwh road trip log just posted in this forum -- I was debating the same question and went with the 60 -- I think it's perfectly fine for most uses, especially if you live in California, or another region with a moderate climate and a good network of EV chargers.

Jvaret | 20 février 2013

And it is plenty fast!

kayalir | 20 février 2013

Same here. Live in Atlanta. Got the 60 and its super fast and plenty of range. Drove over 70 miles the other day at highway speeds and had over half the battery left with 110 miles rated range starting with 186. Honestly you need to decide if the extra 40-60 miles you get with the 85 is worth the $$.

sshrivas | 20 février 2013

Well said kayalir & Jvaret. I opted for 60 primarily because it's range is adequate for my typical driving needs. I did opt for Supercharging to make it possible to do longer trips using supercharges. Eagerly waiting for my car now.

Brian H | 20 février 2013

Cold and high speed are the big "eaters". As some have noted, if you avoid freeways and take secondary highways, you get much more range. Also, letting your wife drive adds lotsa range. ;)

kayalir | 21 février 2013

I also have the supercharger hardware (early adopter) and looking forward to the stations getting built in the southeast so I can take this baby to the beach!!!

Brian H | 21 février 2013

Do you have the paddlewheel option?

kayalir | 21 février 2013

No I must have missed that one in the options

Brian H | 22 février 2013

The trick is you have to stay above 40 knots, and never let the car settle, leaving a 6" air cushion under the battery at all times. So the wheels really have to be kept crankin'.

Brian H | 22 février 2013

There're chain drives between front and back hubs, of course, until the AWD is available; there has to be power applied at both ends to keep the air cushion from collapsing.

ghillair | 22 février 2013


I think it might be more appropriate for SpaceX to build the electric hovercraft, not Tesla.

alan | 22 février 2013

@rsbevans is right on the money. I have the 85 kwh and I think I'd be bummed out if I didn't.
300 miles is only under ideal conditions (flat, 55 mph, no acceleration, moderate weather, etc...).
The EPA rated range (which is displayed on the dash) is 265 miles at 100% charge
Tesla recommends 80% (not 90%) charge, so that gets you to 212 miles (80% of 265) of rated range.

Now if I account for my actual energy usage of about 350 Wh/mile (due to speed mostly), at 100% charge I'd only expect 242 miles of range. At the standard 80% charge I'd expect to get 194 miles or range, and I'd say that's about right. My round trip from Berkeley to Palo Alto is 82 miles, and I usually have about half the 240 rated miles left when I get home.

So in general I'd say for real-world driving in a moderate climate (Bay Area), I'd expect a practical day-to-day range that's 2/3 of the "marketing range". If you get the smaller battery (say the 160 mile range option) then applying the same math you'd expect only about 105 miles of range.

Jolinar | 22 février 2013


are you sure about your standard range goes only to 80%? Even infamous John M. Broder from NYT was able to charge the car up to 90% (242 rated miles of standard charge)...

alan | 22 février 2013


Well, I did call Tesla about it when I first got the car and it only charged to 240 miles, and they said it charges to 80%; 80% of 300 = 240) and that's what is displayed on the dashboard after a full "standard" charge. I also thought it should have been 90% at the standard charge per the web site or perhaps the manual which is why I called them to ask, but they said no, it's 80% at the standard charge level.

The confusing thing for me is that if I change the charging setting to the Max Range option which supposedly gets you to a full 100% charge (Which I presume fills up the 85 kWh battery) the dashboard only says 265 miles of range, not the expected 300 miles.

I also called Tesla about that and they said that the speedometer display shows EPA rated range (265) at full charge. I think it's weird to show the "marketing range" when at the 80% charge level (80% of 300 miles) but show the EPA rated range at the 100% charge level (265).

If they are going to use EPA rated range numbers in the dash, then at 80% charge is should say 212 miles (80% of 265), and at 100% it should say 265 miles.

I have sent all this to Tesla's email address. There is room for more clarity on this issue I think.

Brian H | 22 février 2013

No, it's surface effect, not hovercraft air cushion. But the paddle-wheels take a pounding, which is why they're titanium.

kayalir | 23 février 2013

Alan provided some great numbers but keep this in mind if you haven't finalized your order yet. The $10,000 jump to the 85 kwh battery gains only 57 miles of epa rated range, from 208 to 265 miles. That's about $175 per mile. Consider it will take less than 2 hours at a 50A charging station (available at most RV parks if your on the road) to put 57 miles back in your battery. How many times in a year will your total daily miles driven put you in that spot where you needed that extra 57 miles and are you willing to stop for 1 or 2 hours to charge on those days. Again, it might be less than 208 vs 265 as Alan pointed out (depends on how you drive, temp etc.) but in the end it's a difference of about 57 miles no matter how you drive.

Jolinar | 23 février 2013

What I know from other threads standard charge is arounf 240mi (90% of EPA 265). And it also sounds right if you consider that after charging in standard mode it shows 240, and in max it shows 265...
But after all, it doesnt matter that much if it is 80% or 90%, important is that on the dash it is rated range and if it shows 240mi I'd believe it is rated, not ideal.

PS: However, you are the owner, not me, so you should know more than me :-)

madesh | 4 mars 2014

Buyer's remorse... I am into 10 days since I booked my Tesla, went with 60 KwH. After reading up a bit and talking to people, I am more inclined to call up Tesla and change it to 85 KwH. It is a 10K difference between them, but I don't want to feel later when I am stranded on the highway that I should have gone for 85 KwH. So I am going to change my order now to go with 85 KwH.

Brian H | 4 mars 2014

Yeah, you will spare yourself worries and concerns if you drive much in the 200mi+ range.

tes-s | 4 mars 2014

Better now than 6 months from now...

Webcrawler | 4 mars 2014

I know I can live with a 60 and be very happy....

However, I got a 85 because:

1) I would have ordered Supercharging and the Michelin tire upgrade anyway so it was only $7K extra for me.

2) I plan to keep the car for at least 10 years and I figure if it degrades to a 60Kwhr range by then I am still good for a few more years...

3) I will probably only charge to 80% daily so the pack will be under less stress with the same range as the 60 charged to 90%.

Like I said it was worth $7K to me, but the 60Kwhr would have most likely worked just as well for me. It will be my company/personal car. I have to keep a milage log and know that I almost never exceed 150 miles in a day. If I do I have other vehicles...

I have a 70-80 mile range EV (A converted 1974 VW Thing) and it covers 90% of my daily driving so I know the 60 would be fine to cover 100% of my daily driving needs...

amitb00 | 4 mars 2014

Madesh : I also changed to 85 after confirming. Webcrawler logic applies to me.

judimasters | 4 mars 2014


Brian H | 4 mars 2014

#2: Not just a few more; degradation flattens out considerably, so you're in the long-life part of the sequence by then.

isom | 4 mars 2014

If you have the means, definitely go with 85 or P85. The added range on long trips is well worth it. The faster acceleration is well worth it. A 50 mile buffer is needed for cold weather or freeway speeds.

amitb00 | 5 mars 2014

You should compromise on other options rather than battery size if intention is to save money.

Andrew_OH_S60andS70D | 5 mars 2014

I have a 60, and live in Ohio. I've had it a year and have 28,000 miles on it. I've taken several long trips, which often involve charging at campgrounds as Superchargers are just now coming into the State.

If I could rewind a year, I would get an 85, if for nothing else resale value and longevity. Supercharging capability and Twin Chargers are essential, so if you make a tradeoff, get those first.

mal42north | 5 mars 2014

I went for a 60 loaded with a few options rather than a bare bones 85, and I do not regret the decision. I get to enjoy the options every day (pano roof, leather, air, sound), but have not yet run into a situation where the shorter range has had a material impact. I have about 19k on the car in about 13 months of ownership. I've driven from the bay area to San Diego using superchargers, only difference from the 85 being that the recharge times are a few minutes longer. As the density of superchargers increases the 60 will get even more practical for longer trips. Ultimately the supercharger network is being put in place to support the model E, which will have comparable range to the 60.

sbeggs | 5 mars 2014

@rsbevans, we went for a bare bones S85, emphasizing range (85), access to faster charging at Service Center/HPWC and Canada's Sun Country Highway higher amp charging stations (twin chargers built in), maneuverability in parking (Parking Sensors) and ability to navigate (Tech Package). Also the color blue.

We avoided air suspension because it failed on our Lincoln Mark VIII at 65,000 miles, costly. Retrofitted coils have never been the same.

We avoided pano roof due to forum discussions of shop visits to quiet noises.

We did not choose leather, preferring to put the $1,500 into twin chargers.

We did not choose the upgraded sound system because we prefer silence, or talking, to music. Occasional music will be OK with basic system.

We opted to put the 19" wheels, Michelin tires, onto the car due to reports of early wear on 21's (P85).

We didn't chose either P85 or P85+ due to cost, feeling that 0-60 just one second slower than the fast models would be sufficient for our needs!

Rocky_H | 5 mars 2014

Huh. sbeggs, you had about the same logic as I did for almost all of those options. I just don't like leather seats, though, so that was that. I did not get twin chargers, though. From doing a lot of looking, I can't find any sources of charging within many hundreds of miles of me that could ever make use of it. It's either Superchargers or some kind of 40 amp or less AC source.

amitb00 | 5 mars 2014

Very sound logic sbeggs.

Nu2Ecar | 5 mars 2014

MAL42, what speed did you drive between SF and SD? Did you moderate speed for range? DO you think you might have made the trip with fewer stops in an 85?

mal42north | 5 mars 2014

Most of the time I didn't bother about speed. On the way down I went highway 1 from Santa Cruz to Morro bay, which is a pretty slow drive and picked up a couple of hours of charge at Morro bay from a J1772 while I had lunch. Rest of the trip I went at traffic speed, getting over 80mph on the stretch of highway 5 between LA and San Diego, which did admittedly put me in the lower 50 percentile of vehicle speed on that stretch. I charged up at a hotel overnight in San Diego for the return trip. The only leg that I was a little anxious about was the return from Atascadero to Santa Cruz which is 153 miles. I dialed in cruse control at 65, and arrived home with about 40 miles to spare (having charged up to about 95%, or about 190 miles in Atascadero). That leg could get a bit problematic if there was a stiff breeze, which sometimes occurs in summer, but there is always a diversion to Gilroy (136 miles) if it starts to look dodgy.
The trip will only get easier once San Jan Capistrano and Oxnard are up. I was sad to see the supercharger in Salinas disappear from the map last year though.

PS. I read that about 8000 Model S were sold in CA last year, thats enough revenue (at 2k per car) to build about 100 Superchargers.

mal42north | 5 mars 2014

No I would have had to have stopped at all the Superchargers in a 85, though the stops would have been a little shorter, and I would not have needed the top-up in Morro. The top-up enabled me to go directly toe Buelton, rather than having to backtrack to Atascadero. Once the new Supercharges go in, you would have a little more freedom in deciding which ones to skip in and 85.

Nu2Ecar | 5 mars 2014

Thanks Mal42. The 60/85 option is my last quandary if I buy Tesla. The 60 is easily enough for present needs, but I worry I might be seized with a desire to take long road-trips.

Regarding other options:

parking assistance important in such a big car, which requires tech-package.

No need of air-suspension when clearance is 6", and prefer simple.

Pano-roof - Rarely use sunroof in any car, don't want bother of noise and/or leaks. Rarely carry more than one passenger. Decided the inability to install a roof-rack is positive - I have one car rusted through carrying kayaks from ocean.

Peter J | 5 mars 2014

I ordered my Model S with most of the options, but not the 85. I regret my decision of settling for a 60. As an early adopter, I read the optimistic range estimates, and assumed I would achieve them in my own driving. I have not. We have homes in two cities, 170 miles apart. Luckily there is a Supercharger between them, but I wish that I actually had the range I thought I was buying, to be able to drive from home to home without the stop. No big deal in town; I just plug in every night to our 220/50 amp in the garage. But the highway travel...

huzz1970 | 5 mars 2014

This is a tough call. The financials can be a bit of a barrier, of course. But we looked at it from the point of driving without a radical adjustment in our normal patterns, while enjoying the quiet of the Model S. My commute is about 45 miles round trip each day, so this translates to about 3-4 days on a charge without having to cycle the battery to max-range. We can drive to LA on one stop, and Denver on three or four S/C stops, and with the S/C network now in place can get to the midwest and the east coast to see our family, and maybe into BC this summer. So, the 85kWh battery fits our overall patterns. We did consider the 60kWh battery but a quick check of the real useable distance said that this would not be the best option. We do not like the ride harshness of a large wheel with a low profile tire, and i like the larger black area in the wheel well (personal opinion not for arguement)
S85, tech package, 19", red, performance seats in tan, Obeche matte, parking sensors, Alcantara, standard sound, solid roof- too hot in AZ!

tes-s | 5 mars 2014

Bigger is better, but 60 is fine:

I got the 85 and use full range often.

amitb00 | 6 mars 2014

Rocky: if there is Tesla service center near you, twin charger can charge the car at 60 miles per hour.

Rocky_H | 6 mars 2014

Amit, I know about the service centers having HPWC. Like I said, I've looked into it, and there is nothing within hundreds of miles of me. I live in Idaho, which is still the veritable wasteland of any kind of electric vehicles or charging. If I'm traveling, I'll be using Superchargers, so that's that. In city destinations, I can still use those wall chargers, it will just be slower. It's just such a rare occassion, that it's not worth the cost just to be impatient. We travel out of town by car maybe a couple times a year.

Tâm | 6 mars 2014


It's not a $10,000 more if you already paid $2,000 Supercharger fee for your 60kWh option already.

That's only $8,000 more, but also, you'll get $1,000 19" Michelin Primacy Tire Upgrade, so it's actually $7,000 more!

Your decision for 85kWh is prudent. It's better to pay more and plan for the worse than pay less and be overconfident that the worse would never come!

Gadfly | 6 mars 2014

no brainer. 85 kw for a million reasons.

Tâm | 6 mars 2014

I hope you know how to view Ideal miles VS. EPA Rated miles. They are different units.

Estimated Range at 55 mph with no accessories usage, no wind, no elevation, is 300 miles.

EPA 5-Cycle Certified Range is 265 miles.

Standard charge is loosely defined as 90% but it is not precisely so

300 Ideal miles x 90% = 270 Ideal miles


265 EPA rated miles x 90% = 238.5 Rated miles.

The numbers may be more or it may be less because Tesla tries to decide which % is best (thus 90% is not a constant number.)

You might see the moving target with each firmware update without any warning.

When you have a concerns about a reduced range, you just need to Maxcharge and see whether it is 300 ideal miles or 265 EPA rated miles.

Brian H | 6 mars 2014

plan for the worst worse

many more most
bad worse worst

not interchangeable.

Tâm | 6 mars 2014

@Brian H

You caught me in my moment of weakness :)