It's not all the time that an automaker decides to make major changes to a vehicle within the first year of production. Sure, Honda just refreshed their new Civic one year after the launch, but events like these are rare. That's why we took notice earlier this week when Tesla announced that it would drop the 40 kWh battery option on its Model S. Tesla cites a lack of demand, with only 4% Model S pre-orders configured with the base 40 kWh battery. Instead of providing those customers with what they ordered, Tesla says they will install the 60 kWh battery and simply use software to limit the capacity to 40 kWh. Those customers expecting a 40 kWh battery will now have a heavier car with the no change in battery capacity.

That said, it isn't all bad.

Tesla states that buyers of the 40 kWh battery will now have the performance specs of the 60 kWh battery: 0-60 mph times are down to 5.9 sec from 6.5 sec, and top speed is up 10 mph to 120 mph. There is no mention if the warranty for the 60 kWh battery (8 years, 125,000 miles) replaces the 40 kWh model's original warranty of 8 years, 100,000 miles.


Adding to the similarity between models, Tesla says that current or future owners of the 40 kWh model will have the option of upgrading to full 60 kWh capacity at any time, for an additional cost. There is no announcement of pricing at this time.

That's great news for that 4% that ordered the 40 kWh model, but we wonder if 60 kWh customers might be a bit annoyed--especially those who were sold on the performance increase over the planned 40 kWh model.

Is using software to limit battery capacity an odd strategy for Tesla or is it simply the best solution considering the low demand? Certainly, placing limits on the Model S is an uncharacteristic move for Tesla.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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