Just when we thought we finally had a handle on the actual base price of a Model X, Elon Musk has gone ahead and created more reason for speculation. Let’s review.
Elon Musk tweeted last week that a Model X will cost $5,000 more than a Model S when both cars are configured the same. Since the Model S 70D is listed at $75,000 on the company website, Musk’s tweet should mean an identically equipped Model X will sell for $80,000.
But Musk attended a conference hosted by Vanity Fair on October 7, where he spoke about Model X pricing and told the audience, “We’ll have a more affordable version out next year that will start at around $75,000 before incentives, about $65,000 after.” Wait. Does this mean there might be a price reduction of $5,000 on a similarly equipped base Model S 70D in the near future?
Clearly, the redoubtable and peripatetic Mr. Musk knows things that we do not. And once again, his tweets may say more than perhaps they should. Just recently, he tweeted that a less expensive version of the Model X featuring a battery that would be “something like a 70” would be available some time in 2016.
Last month, Jefferies analyst Dan Dolev predicted the cost of Tesla batteries could fall by as much as 50% when the GigaFactory gets into full production in the second half of 2016. He justified his prediction based on the company “using a more efficient lithium-rich nickel cobalt manganese cathode, doubling the percentage of silicon in the synthetic graphene anode, replacing the liquid electrolyte with an ionic gel electrolyte which eliminates the need for a separator, and using a water-based electrode solvent for the cathode.”
If we combine Dolev’s prediction with Musk’s most recent statement, it’s possible to conclude that by the time all the Model X cars promised to reservation holders get built, the basic battery may be larger than 70 kWh, and with a starting price far less than what it is today. That could also suggest the entry level Model S may benefit from a larger battery and a lower price a year from now.
Elon’s pronouncements are always cryptic. About all we can say for sure is that 2016 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the company with lots of improvements and the possibility of lower prices in the offing.