New Tesla sedan to cost un­der $70,000

The elec­tric car­maker un­veils the Model S 70D amid in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Charles Flem­ing

Tesla Mo­tors is of­fer­ing a new ver­sion of its Model S all-elec­tric sedan, the 70D, for less than $70,000 af­ter gov­ern­ment in­cen­tives.

It’s the lat­est in a string of re­cently an­nounced Model S vari­ants that might help the com­pany sus­tain con­sumer ex­cite­ment un­til it can pro­duce a truly all-new model. Like Tesla’s big­ger, more pow­er­ful 85D and P85D, the 70D is an all­wheel-drive ver­sion with dual elec­tric mo­tors, one on each axle.

Tesla, which two years ago had the luxury elec­tric car mar­ket vir­tu­ally to it­self, now faces in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from other com­pa­nies. Ger­man au­tomak­ers Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW have be­gun of­fer­ing high-per­for­mance, plug-in elec­tric cars. GM has said its 2017 Chevy Bolt will be ca­pa­ble of run­ning 200 miles be­tween charges, and may cost as lit­tle as $30,000 af­ter re­bates.

An­a­lysts re­acted to the 70D an­nounce­ment with guarded op­ti­mism.

“Tesla Mo­tors is fine­tun­ing its of­fer­ing by sig­nif­i­cantly re­vis­ing its base Model S, giv­ing it added range and stan­dard all-wheel drive [which] makes the base model more ap­peal­ing and should drive up its pop­u­lar­ity,” said Kel­ley Blue Book mar­ket an­a­lyst Jack

Nerad. “But we ex­pect that most Tesla buy­ers will con­tinue to step up to the toplevel ver­sions of the car, which of­fer more range.”

The lower price of the 70D comes with less per­for­mance. The P85D, which starts at $105,000 and can cost much more with op­tions, comes with an “in­sane” driv­ing mode and ac­cel­er­ates from zero to 60 mph in just over 3 sec­onds.

The 70D is merely quick, with a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.2 sec­onds, but tar­gets con­sumers look­ing to get into a Tesla as in­ex­pen­sively as pos­si­ble. Still, its dual-mo­tor sys­tem is ca­pa­ble of driv­ing the 70D to a top speed of 140 mph, Tesla says.

The 70D has a driv­ing range of about 240 miles, sim­i­lar to other Model S sedans but not quite as high as the range claimed by the P85. Own­ers will have free ac­cess to the com­pany’s na­tional Su­per­charger net­work of charg­ing sta­tions.

Tesla shares, which were trad­ing at $190 only a month ago, have risen in re­cent weeks and were up 2% to $207, on the news. The stock is still trad­ing well be­low its high of $286 18 months ago.

The new S will come bun­dled with Tesla’s Au­topi­lot hard­ware, which en­ables the car to au­to­mat­i­cally speed up and slow down with mov­ing traf­fic, as well as a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, blind spot de­tec­tion and other fea­tures.

The sticker price will be $75,000, be­fore a $7,500 fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­bate to buy­ers of elec­tric cars. In­cen­tives from Cal­i­for­nia and some other states bring the price down a bit fur­ther.

The new ve­hi­cle will be avail­able in colors new to the Palo Alto-based com­pany: ocean blue, ob­sid­ian black and warm sil­ver. Those new colors will also be avail­able on the 85, 85D and P85D mod­els.

The all-wheel-drive 70D is seen as a re­place­ment of sorts for the com­pany’s other en­try-level elec­tric ve­hi­cle, the rear-wheel-drive Model 60, which the com­pany said it would now dis­con­tinue. (Tesla will still of­fer a RWD Model S 85.)

But the 70D is not the more “af­ford­able” Tesla the com­pany has been promis­ing. Tesla says its Model 3 will cost about $35,000, but it may be sev­eral years be­fore it goes on sale.

The com­pany has promised to de­liver its all-wheeldrive cross­over SUV, the much-an­tic­i­pated Model X, in the third quar­ter of this year. Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, a new 70D, or­dered now, will be de­liv­ered in May.

Tesla Mo­tors

LIKE TESLA’S BIG­GER , more pow­er­ful 85D and P85D, the 70D has all-wheel drive with dual elec­tric mo­tors. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 sec­onds.

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