Tesla has added a new Standard Range trim for both its aging Model S and Model X luxury cars this week, effectively slashing the barrier to entry for the automaker’s flagship sedan and SUV by a staggering $10,000 each. The Model S SR now comes in at $78,490, and the Model X SR at $88,490—both before the automaker’s mandatory $1,390 destination and $250 order fees.
As the name suggests, the $10,000 trade-off is how far the vehicle can travel on a charge. Model S gets an 85-mile reduction to 320 miles (down from 405 miles) and Model X shaves off 79 miles from its range, resulting in 269 miles to a charge (down from 348 miles). There’s just one catch that might rankle new SR owners: all Model S and X vehicles reportedly use the same gross capacity battery pack regardless of trim. In other words, the Standard Range variants have been software locked at a lower usable capacity to justify the price difference.
News of the pack being software-locked comes from Electrek which confirmed the suspicion by speaking with several Tesla employees on the matter. Unfortunately, Tesla was unable to validate the rumor officially since it dissolved its communications and public relations department some time ago.
Software locking a battery pack at a lower usable capacity is an old trick Tesla pulled from its sleeve that was previously used to limit early Model S cars to 60 kWh, down from 75 kWh. With these new configurations, the EV maker has also slowed the zero to 60 MPH sprint from 3.1 to 3.7 seconds in the Model S and from 3.8 to 4.4 seconds in the Model X.
Whether Tesla will let owners to “unlock” the remainder of the car’s battery as an over-the-air purchase later on is currently unclear. Tesla previously allowed owners of early Model S 60D vehicles to pay $4,500 to access an additional 15 kWh of usable battery (it later reduced the price to $2,000), whereas Model X owners have paid as much as $9,000 for the same privilege in the past.
BMW and Mercedes are also locking features that you already paid for – because you own the hardware of the car – behind paywalls. It’s something that really these companies shouldn’t be allowed to get away with.