Tesla is selling a car with an “upgradable” battery. Only it's not upgradable in the take-it-to-the-dealer-and-they’ll-swap-out-some-hardware sense. Instead, you give Tesla thousands of dollars to “unlock” hardware that’s already included in your car with an over-the-air software update. The Model S 70 includes a 70kWh battery pack that’s good for around 240 miles of range. For $3,000 more, there’s a Model S 75 with a 75kWh battery pack that gives an additional 19 miles of range from the extra 5kWh of energy storage. But both models use the exact same battery for logistics and manufacturing purposes.
At first blush, it feels weird. The notion of artificially locking you out of a piece of hardware that you own is, to say the least, odd. But I think that in pushing the boundaries of how it sells its cars and the options on them, Tesla is showing us the future of how the auto industry is going to work.Jordan Golson
It feels weird because it’s a slimy move. Tesla is selling the exact same product at two different prices and changing people to unlock hardware they’ve already purchased! That’s like Apple selling you a 32GB iPhone where you can only access 16GB of memory and asking people to pay to unlock the extra storage… If Tesla can do this with in-car software alone, what stops them from artificially limiting the number of miles you can drive and then charging extra fees to unlock the car over and over again?
Meanwhile, in the past three months Tesla lost five vice presidents, including two top manufacturing executives; maybe Elon Musk should stop being a jerk and focus on keeping the team together, otherwise the new model 3 may never ship.