It was revealed yesterday that the Tesla Model S will get the 75-kilowatt-hour battery pack option introduced on the Model X, but some owners already have it. Tesla has already shipped cars with the larger pack without telling anyone.
Tesla has been installing the larger battery pack in new cars, but uses software to limit its energy capacity to the 70kWh the firm has been advertising. Current owners will have the option to unlock the extra capacity with a software update, according to Teslarati, which cited the story of an Australian customer who was told there would be an “option to upgrade via firmware.”
All 70kWh Model S sedans built after a recent facelift actually have the 75kWh pack, a Tesla spokesperson subsequently confirmed to Autoblog. Tesla will continue to offer the 70kWh option but will no longer build the smaller packs, the spokesperson said. Existing owners can upgrade their cars for the same $3,000 Tesla charges to new customers who select the 75kWh option over the 70kWh one.
Tesla deemed the software approach more efficient than continuing to make two separate packs, alongside the 90kWh pack offered in higher end variants. The company actually did something like this very early in the Model S’ life cycle. It originally planned to offer the car with a 40kWh battery, but changed its mind before any cars were built. The few people who ordered the smaller battery got cars with 60kWh packs, with software that cut capacity to 40kWh.
So the Model S is now, officially, available with 70, 75, and 90kWh battery options. The 70kWh version is also the only Tesla still available with rear-wheel drive; dual-motor “D” all-wheel drive is mandatory on 90kWh models and every Model X variant. It’s possible Tesla will offer rear-wheel drive with the 75kWh battery on the Model S.
Depending on your perspective, Tesla’s battery tactics are either a nice surprise for customers, or a somewhat cynical attempt to get more money out of them after delivery. Tesla owners will probably be pleased to find out that they have extra battery capacity, but they also have to be willing to shell out more cash to access it.