Buying A 2012 Tesla Model S? Think Before Ordering The Battery Pack

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2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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At the end of 2011, Tesla released its final specification, options and price list for the 2012 Model S sedan. 

Depending on the choice of battery pack, the 2012 Tesla Model S should travel 160, 230, or 300 miles per charge.  

For Tesla Model S owners who have purchased cars with the 230 or 300-mile battery pack, specially built Superchargers -- Tesla’s propriety 90-kilowatt quick charge system -- will be available to add as much as 150 miles of range in just 30 minutes.

But buy the base-level $57,400 car, and your car will only be capable of adding 40 miles per 30 minutes of charging. 

That’s because Tesla has made the decision to not offer quick charging capabilities on its base-level Model S. 

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector

2012 Tesla Model S Charging Connector

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Although Tesla hasn’t given an official reason for its decision, we suspect it has something to do with maintaining the health of the 2012 Tesla Model S battery pack. 

Due to its size, the 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack in the base-level Model S will undergo more charge/discharge cycles during regular use than the 60-  (230-mile) and 85-kilowatt-hour (300-mile) battery pack options. 

But while the base-level 2012 Model S won’t include quick charging capability, we should note that it still offers a range-per-charge larger than any other electric car on the market today.

And thanks to the standard 10- and optional 20-kilowatt charging packages, the base level Model S can still recharge from a 240-volt AC charging station faster than any other electric car available today.

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

Enlarge Photo

If you’re buying a 2012 Model S to use as your daily driver and primary family car, the limitations of the smaller battery pack shouldn’t bother you too much if you travel under 160 miles a day.

But if you plan on making regular long-distance drives in your 2012 Model S from one major city to the other, you may want to consider spending a little extra to buy the 60-kilowatt-hour model with optional rapid charger access. 

Either that, or be prepared to wait a little longer every time you stop to recharge.


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Comments (6)
  1. I have my doubts whether battery pack health is the issue - MIT experiments showed no affect on battery life related to speed of recharge for li ion batteries. It may be simply an acknowledgment
    of the fact that folks shouldn't travel on long trips with a 160 mile range battery pack and/or the fact that this is the entry level version of the vehicle. Fast charging for a car with more than 150 miles of range is, by and large, an issue only when travelling. If you travel, go for the longer legged versions.

  2. My concern with being a base Model S owner is - how much of a reduction in charging capacity will I experience after 7 to 10 years of use. 160 miles will drop to what level eventually? This answer will determine if the base battery pack is appropriate for me based on long-term degradation.

  3. Good question. All cars have an 8 year warranty but those don't include residual range. The 160 battery will wear out quickest because it gets cycled more and needs to produce more power per cell. Also the S/300 has the new Panasonic LiNiO2 chemistry which the 160 doesn't have and which is expected to have extremely long (5000/82%)cycle life expectancy:

    Mind you that's only useful if it's matched by a very long calendar life which only time will tell.

  4. Thanks Chris for sharing this document link

  5. Randy; in 7-10 years you can replace the batteries for a fraction of the today's price.

  6. I certainly hope so ;-)

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