Tesla's new base Model S costs more, but adds features and power

Wed Apr 8, 2015 7:05am EDT
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By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O: Quote) began taking orders on Wednesday for a new base version of its Model S electric sedan that is $5,000 more expensive than its predecessor, but offers better performance, longer range and more features, including all-wheel drive.

The Model S 70D is priced from $76,070 and will begin shipping to customers in late May.

The 70D is so named because it has a 70kWh battery pack and dual electric motors rated at a combined 514 horsepower. Driving range between charges is 240 miles.

All are improvements over the outgoing Model S 60, which was priced from $71,070 and was equipped with a single 380hp electric motor and a 60kWh battery pack with a range of 208 miles.

The Model S 70D gets "a slight price increase, but it's a huge value increase," Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk, said in an interview. "Customers wanted something that had more range and they really wanted all-wheel drive."

Demand for the two single-motor cars - the Model S 60 and the $81,070 Model S 80 - has declined since Tesla last year introduced the dual-motor 85D and its high-performance sibling, the P85D, whose sticker price starts at $105,670 and ranges up to $135,000.

Musk said fewer than 10 percent of Tesla buyers opted for the rear-wheel-drive Model S 60. For now, the company will continue selling the single-engine Model S 80, even though the lower-priced 70D has more power, quicker acceleration and a higher top speed.

"But we think that all-wheel drive is what most customers want so that's our focus," Musk said.   Continued...

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk talks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, January 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook