Right now, the longest-range Tesla Model S or X you can purchase has a 90kWh battery inside it, but that could be about to change. Tesla has periodically updated its top-end vehicles with higher capacity batteries, and the company may be prepping to do it again — this time by bumping its 90kWh vehicles up to 100kWh.
These rumors spread earlier this year when a Tesla fan found mention of a P100D product buried in the vehicle’s firmware, but this time we’ve a more official source. RDW, the company that certifies Tesla vehicles for sale within the EU, recently published listings for new Tesla variants including a 100D and 100X — and that would be in line with Tesla’s current product line-up and nomenclature. Last year, Tesla announced that it expected battery capacity to improve by roughly 5% per year, so introducing a 100D would indicate an acceleration of that timeline — though whether or not the company can maintain the pace is a matter of conjecture.
A 100kWh battery would be an 11% improvement over current models and would give the Model S a range of up to 381 miles, according to the EU’s regulations, which aren’t as strict as ours in the US. The EPA rates the Model S’s 90AWD variant at 294 miles; a linear increase in mileage based on the battery’s additional capacity would be 326 miles. Obviously the real-world increase would probably be smaller, but it’s a useful ballpark figure.
Historically, Tesla has used these periodic capacity bumps as a method of differentiating between its current products and putting older hardware out to pasture. Not long after it introduced the 90kWH variant, Tesla stopped selling the 85kWh variants it had previously offered.
Tesla has run into trouble over the past 12 months with high-profile failures of its Autopilot system and rumors of launch problems surrounding the Model X. With the latter now nearly a year old, the bugs and early launch issues appear to have been resolved, but a newer high-capacity vehicle would still put some additional shine on the company and demonstrate that it continues to iterate on delivering higher capacity batteries. Such gains are critically important to the company’s long-term plans for its Model 3, which targets a much lower $ 35K price tag and will need to satisfy consumer concerns over range anxiety while simultaneously hitting a 200-mile range. That’s tiny as it is — and every pound will count when it comes to hitting the target. No word yet on whether or not Musk plans to resurrect the Amphicar and offer the Tesla Model S: Boating Edition.