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Tesla Model S Offers a Lesson in Electric-Vehicle Economics

Noah Berger/Reuters
Tesla Model S, near the start-up’s factory in Fremont, Calif., on June 22.
A handful of fully electric Tesla Model S Signature Performance sedans were presented to their owners at the company’s factory on June 22, each priced around $100,000. The luxury sedans were fitted with the most powerful battery pack available from the start-up automaker, rated at 85 kilowatt-hours. In combination with the vehicles’ electric motor and other running gear, those reserves of energy are capable of generating 416 horsepower, Tesla claims.

A Model S with the 85-kWh pack but without the Signature Performance frills would cost $77,400, before tax credits. Smaller packs, with proportionally diminished prices and estimated driving ranges, are scheduled to be offered later this year: a 60-kWh model starting at $67,400 and a 40-kWh model at $57,400, again excluding tax credits.

By setting three distinct benchmarks for performance and price, Tesla offered customers, and the industry, an invitation to engage in some rudimentary calculations to determine the price Tesla placed on each kilowatt-hour of capacity.

Taking the difference between the prices of cars fitted with the 40-kWh and 60-kWh packs, Tesla ostensibly charges $10,000 for 20 kWh of capacity, or $500 per kilowatt-hour.

Because the battery packs are constructed of thousands of smaller batteries, the cost of the battery is expected to escalate as its capacity increases. But the 85-kWh pack offers 25 kWh for $10,000, or $400 per kilowatt-hour.

Of course, equipment levels are part of the Model S equation as well. Tesla expects buyers of the Signature Performance level to pay roughly $20,000 over the basic 85-kWh sedan for features like a performance-goosing inverter, sport-tuned suspension and nappa leather.
More nytimes.com

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