Ever since I checked out the Model S at a Tesla dealer, and put my e-mail down to get a test-drive, I’ve been getting the occasional e-mail from the carmaker. The other day I got an interesting e-mail ad for the new base Model X, the 60D, which suggested that, to quote: “The Model X 60D can later be upgraded through a software update to 75 kWh to increase range by about 20%. ”
This piqued my interest – is the 60D version of the Model X nothing else but a software-limited version of the 75D variant? This would make for an interesting business strategy: first, you try to lure the consumer with a lower base price, and then, once they’ve committed, try to sell them the upgrade for extra money. This is frequently done with digital services – for example, Pandora offers free listening with ads to get you hooked, and later offers you an upgrade to the ad-free Pro version. And in a way carmakers try to do the same by offering base versions of the car to lure consumers into the showroom, only to try to “upgrade” you to a more expensive version of the car once you’re there. VW is an expert at this e.g. it used to offer a base S version of the Jetta in the US with the antiquated, 115HP, 8-valve 2.0 liter 4cyl engine just so it could claim a low “starts at” price in the ads.
Of course, if this is fact Tesla’s strategy, it I’d be curious to see whether it really makes sense to sell a car whose range is artificially limited, as the bigger batteries to achieve that surely adds cost/weight. Again, other carmakers have been there before, especially with turbocharged engines which they sell in different states of tune at different price points, but in that case the difference in cost/weight is presumably much lower than for the Tesla, often limited to nothing but the software the controls the turbocharging pressure.
So, what do you think – does it make sense for Tesla to sell the Model X 60D as a software-limited version of the 75D spec?