2016 Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S electric car has been offered in several versions over its five model years to date, with faster and longer-range variants getting the most attention.
Today the Silicon Valley carmaker announced two new, less expensive versions of the Model S that start at $66,000.
Both will offer more than 200 miles of range, the company said.
DON'T MISS: Updated 2016 Tesla Model S also gets new 75-kWh battery option (May 2016)
The new 2016 Tesla Model S "60" and "60D" will use a 60-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, with the "D" indicating the all-wheel-drive version.
They use a pack that's the same size as the base Model S before it was updated last year with a 70-kwh battery, now in the process of being superseded by a 75-kwh pack like that in the Model X electric SUV.
The new Model S 60 will start at $66,000, while the all-wheel-drive Model S 60D carries a base price of $71,000. Both also carry a mandatory $1,200 destination fee in addition to the prices quoted above
Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery pack in rolling chassis [photo: Martin Gillet via Flickr]
The new versions were added, Tesla says, because the company "heard from a number of people who would like to buy a Model S, but can more easily afford it only at a lower price point."
The Model S 60 will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 130 miles per hour.
Tesla didn't give similar figures for the 60D, nor did it specify exact EPA range ratings for either new model.
ALSO SEE: Updated 2016 Tesla Model S 90D now rated at 303 miles highway range (April 2016)
It appears the new versions actually use a 75-kwh battery pack that's software-limited to provide only the range of a 60-kwh pack.
"Model S 60 and 60D owners may later choose to upgrade their vehicles to a 75kWh battery with a software update," Tesla said today, "should they want to add to their car's battery capacity in the future."
That's an echo of the company's original approach to the handful of 40-kwh Model Ses it sold in the car's earliest days.
First production 2012 Tesla Model S [detail from photo by evancharlesmoore on instagram]
Tesla originally offered capacities of 40, 60, and 85 kwh for the 2012 Model S lineup. So few buyers opted for the 40-kwh version, however, that the few who took delivery before Tesla withdrew it from the lineup received a 60-kwh car with software limiting the range to that of a 40-kwh battery.
As battery technology has improved and the energy densities of lithium-ion cells have increased, Tesla has made several changes to battery specs over the life of the Model S thus far.
The Model X electric SUV was announced with capacities of 70 and 90 kwh, but by the time it reached production, the 70-kwh pack had been supplanted by a 75-kwh battery.
The most visible update to the Model S sedan came earlier this year, when it got new frontal styling to match that of the Model X.
The black, oval panel that visually resembled a conventional car's grille vanished, replaced by a body-color blunt nose with a slight edge forward of the hood over the front compartment.
Along with various other aerodynamic modifications, the new version offered longer range—often the single most important consideration in buying an electric car after price