There's a new version of the Tesla Model S sedan and Tesla Model X crossover. Well, kinda new, but also old. It's the return of the "standard range" versions, which have lower ranges for a lower price, but otherwise offer all of the same features and capabilities (though with slightly reduced peak acceleration). The new Tesla Model S Standard Range gets 320 miles of range at a full charge, while the Tesla Model X Standard Range checks in at 269 miles.
That $10,000 in savings comes from a 100kWh battery pack that's been software-locked to 80% max charge.
Tesla dropped the Standard Range back in 2019 and even through the 2021 redesign of the Model S and X, they kept only two options for the powertrain: Long Range and Plaid. Both sported a 100kWh battery pack, with the Plaid having three high performance motors compared to the Long Range's two. The old Standard Range option had a 75kWh battery pack that roughly around 25% off the range and a decent chunk of the sticker price, plus a bit less in performance since it couldn't draw on as many battery cells at once to make the car go zoom.
And now, some four years later, the Standard Range is back. But this time it's different. In exchange for a $10,000 discount you'll get a Model S or Model X with a 100kWh pack that Electrek noted has been software locked to around 80kWh. This means the car costs Tesla no less to produce than a Long Range version, and it weighs the same so you're lugging around an extra ~200 pounds in battery cells you can't even access.
But you save $10,000 on the purchase price, which brings the starting price for a Tesla Model S down to $78,490 and the Model X now starts at $88,490. They are still definitely not cheap cars. And even at these reduced prices they don't come close to close to qualifying for the US federal EV tax credits — a maximum MSRP of $80,000 for vans, SUVs, and trucks; and $55,000 for sedans, coupes, and bikes.
This isn't the first time Tesla has sold software-locked battery packs, and historically they also offered customers that bought those cars the option to pay to unlock the full capacity, range, and performance. Typically those prices mirrored the difference between the two purchase prices, so in this case the unlock price would be $10,000 to jump to to the full 100kWh and a 405 mile range for the Model S.
Will Standard Range owners be able to pay Tesla to unlock their battery packs? We sure hope so.
There's been no word if that will be an option for buyers of the new Model S or X Standard Range, but it wouldn't be a surprise. As noted above, the Model S Standard Range costs no less for Tesla to produce, but they're selling it for a $10,000 discount. Obviously they would hope to recoup some of that lost profit, and allowing owners to later on fork over $10,000 to unlock the full range and performance potential of their car would bring back at least some of that revenue.
It's worth noting that while the Model S Standard Range is a larger and nicer car, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a longer 333-mile range and checks in at $47,240. Not only is it more than $30,000 cheaper, it also qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit which makes the price more like half that of the Model S. Again, they're not the same car, but bang for your Tesla range buck? Model 3 Long Range > Model S Standard Range all day long.