Tesla’s 75 kWh battery pack removal opens doors to ‘Track Mode’ for Model S & X

Tesla delivery push as Q3 comes to an end. [Credit: Harbles/Twitter]

In a recent update on Twitter, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would be discontinuing the 75 kWh variants of the Model S and Model X. Starting this coming Monday, Tesla’s two flagship vehicles would only be offered at 100 kWh and 100 kWh Performance versions, widening the price gap between the cars and the company’s newest offering — the Model 3.

In a way, retiring the 75D line seems to be the right decision for Tesla. After all, the Model S 75D, which is priced at $76,000 before options, pretty much overlaps with the price of a fully-loaded Model 3 Performance. That said, this change also results in the base price of the Model S and Model X increasing significantly. The Model S 100D — the vehicle’s base version starting Monday — would start at $94,000, while the Model X 100D would start at $97,000, far higher than the Model X 75D’s starting price of $82,000.

Apart from widening the gap between the more affordable Model 3 and the flagship Model S and X, though, the retirement of the 75 kWh battery pack also opens the doors to a very likely battery upgrade for the full-size sedan and SUV. The Model S and X, after all, are still equipped with 18650 cells, which are smaller and a bit older than the 2170 cells being used on the Model 3. These cells are also imported from Panasonic’s facilities in Japan, instead of being produced in Gigafactory 1.

By retiring the 75 kWh battery pack, Tesla would give itself an opportunity to roll out the newer cells to its flagship vehicles. The 2170 cells, for one, would probably even allow the Performance-branded Model S and X to handle extended track driving. Part of the reason behind the current generation Model S and X’s inability to be competitive on the track, after all, is their batteries, which have a tendency to overheat after a few laps around a closed circuit. This particular issue has been largely addressed by Tesla with the Model 3 and its 2170 cells, as evidenced by the vehicle’s dedicated Track Mode setting.

A Track Mode feature for the Performance Model S and X would make the vehicles even more fearsome than they already are. Even with their general inability to be driven on a racecourse, the Model S and Model X have nonetheless developed a reputation as monsters in straight-line races over the years. Equipped with a battery that has the same tech as the Model 3 — from its 2170 cells to its clever cooling systems — the Model S and X would be downright frightening.

A Tesla Model 3 Performance with Track Mode rips through a closed circuit. [Credit: Motor Trend]

Apart from opening the doors to Track Mode, an update to 2170 cells would likely result in more range for the Model S and Model X as well. This is something that Tesla could definitely use as a selling point for its flagship vehicles, considering that the competition, including the Porsche Taycan and the Jaguar I-PACE, are still pretty much competing against the bar set by vehicles that were created during the 18650 cell era. One can only speculate how much range a Long Range version of the Model S would have if it were equipped with 2170 cells. Perhaps even a 400-mile range? Such a scenario is plausible.

Hidden within this new update from Elon Musk, though, is something that bodes well for the company’s upcoming vehicle — the Model Y. Seeing as Tesla retired the Model X 75D, the company’s only SUV in its lineup now starts at $97,000. That’s very expensive, and this price notably reduces the size of the vehicle’s potential consumer base in an incredibly popular segment. By adopting this strategy at this point, Tesla appears to be hinting at the release of another, more affordable SUV that can compete more aggressively than the entry-level Model X. This vehicle, of course, would be the Model Y.

The Model Y has been in the rumor mill for some time now. In recent months, though, Elon Musk has provided a number of updates on the vehicle. During the company’s third-quarter earnings call, for one, Musk mentioned that he had already approved the construction of the Model Y’s alpha prototype. Musk has also joked that the upcoming SUV would be unveiled this 2018, perhaps sometime in the first half of the year.

"Simon Alvarez : @https://twitter.com/ResidentSponge Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.."
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