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Customer Letter from Tesla's George Blankenship

Looks like all of our inquiries did the trick! Here is an official letter from George Blankenship all the reservation holders just received. I'm posting it here for those of you who are still on the fence and haven't reserved your Model S yet:

"
Hello everyone,

2011 has been a great year for Tesla. As we wind down the year and head into 2012, you will start to see some very exciting things happening in the next few months.

We'll be releasing U.S. pricing for Model S shortly. There have been a lot of rumors about price increases out there. I'm happy to say that we will deliver Model S with the 40kWh battery at the price we announced in 2009 of 49,900 after federal tax credits. We will also stick to other commitments we made earlier this year regarding delivery of the 85kWh battery the middle of 2012, the 60 kWh battery about 3 months later and the 40 kWh battery around the end of the year. Be on the look out for more detailed U.S. Model S pricing and options packages in the next few weeks. This pricing will be in effect for all current U.S. reservation holders.

Early in the new year we will begin gathering updated information for all reservation holders. We want to make sure that configuration, final ordering and delivery of your Model S all happen smoothly, efficiently and in a fun way. Having current email, mailing addresses and phone numbers will help make that possible. Thank you in advance for your help with this.

In the next few months we will significantly enhance our Model S configurator on the web and in our retail stores. This update will include great new interior and exterior views of Model S and a new configuration tool that will allow you create your favorite Model S variations. You will be able to save your favorite combinations for future review and customization.

Early next year we will also be enhancing the MyTesla area of our website. It will allow you to keep track of your favorite Model S configurations and the progress of your actual vehicle as you go through the configuration, ordering and delivery process. It will be the place for you to find out everything you need to know in an interactive, engaging way.

We also plan to have more events at our Fremont Factory in 2012, and a few other surprises that we're sure you will enjoy. Stay tuned, great things are happening.

Because of you, 2011 was a great year at Tesla. 2012 will be even better. As always, we thank you for your continued support as we work very hard to change the world.

Best wishes to all for a Happy Holiday season.

George Blankenship

Tesla Motors | Tesla Motors | 3500 Deer Creek Road | Palo Alto, CA 94304
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"

Interesting that George talks in terms of 40, 60, and 85KWh instead of 160, 230, and 300 mile range. Does that imply a better/new charge density/battery pack that will improve on those mileage figures? Of course this question also indicates we will speculate on anything Tesla says! ;-}

I hope it does not mean that the range is less than promised.

The range will undoubtedly be the same for the EPA 2-cycle test. They may be hedging because there are newer EPA tests they'd have to use that would affect the range they can put on the stickers. The Leaf, for instance, goes from 100 mile to something like the low 70's going from EPA2 to the newer standard.

That doesn't change what Tesla has said all along though, it's just a change in how the government decides range.

I think the letter implies a future price hike for the 40kWh version for future reservations.

TM specifies 300 Wh/mile. Therefore:

1. 40kWh/300 Wh/mile=133.33 miles.
2. 60kWh/300 Wh/mile=200 miles.
3. 85kWh/300 Wh/mile=283.33 miles.

Still the best range of any mass produced EV. I hope the Canadian pricing is very close to the US pricing, since the Canadian dollar is very close to par with the USD.

TM specifies 300 Wh/mile. (stephen.kamichi...)

I'd say that's a very rough estimate. For one, this number has been around for much longer than, e.g., the Cd value. Also, it is an astoundingly round number. I take that as a rule of thumb, not the accurate base for advertised (EPA-old) range.

Regardless, I was irritated by the battery capacities as well. It's the first time -- as far as I am concerned -- that Tesla has publicly mentioned battery capacities for the two lower-range models. The 85 kWh for the 300 mile model has been around a while, but what strikes me is that capacities are not linear with range. If 40 kWh is enough to drive 160 mi, then 60 kWh should take you 240 mi and 85 kWh should get you 340 mi.

Yes I know that there is a safety margin in the battery: Completely depleting the battery results in battery damage. Which brings up the question whether 40/60/85 kWh are the usable capacities or the nominal capacities. Since it is not linear with the advertised ranges, it is probably the nominal capacity.

But still, up to date it was my understanding, that the "battery safety margin" is a fixed fraction of the nominal capacity (something like 10%), and as a consequence the range should again be linear with the nominal battery capacity. Given the numbers we have now, it seems that the fraction of the nominal capacity that is actually available is smaller for the larger batteries. Doesn't make sense to me.

This pricing will be in effect for all current U.S. reservation holders. (George Blankenship's letter)

To me this says that you'd better reserve now, or otherwise you may have to deal with "updated" pricing.

If 40 kWh is enough to drive 160 mi, then 60 kWh should take you 240 mi and 85 kWh should get you 340 mi.

Weight difference. 85kWh battery is over twice as heavy as 40kWh. It can't be linear because of that.

IIRC they use Panasonic 3.4 Ah batteries in those packs. Each one of those weight 46g and have 3.6V. That gives 266Wh/kg energy density. 45kWh difference then weights about 170kg + less wiring, cooling etc.

Is it just me or does those late battery tech weights look very low? I have started to wonder about what that fuss over "too heavy batteries" is all about. Some deliberate smoke screen to drive people off the tech, or just illusion caused by technology advancements? When the car weights nearly two tons and whole battery is only about 15% of that weight + electric engine & miniature gearbox weights so much less than ICE and assorted gizmos that it looks to me that practical BEV should actually weight less than ICE car.

I agree with Volker. Those that have not reserved will pay higher prices. We are getting a better price because we will be TM's advertising and marketing.

I'll make an uninformed guess that the pricing will be good for all reservations taken this year. There'll likely be at least a small window after they post the pricing before they say "Oh, these prices don't apply to you because you didn't buy this product that you had little pricing info about."

(I know, this sounds like those late-night commercials: "This special offer is expiring soon, so call before midnight tonight! Operators are standing by!")

I think that when they post options/pricing, there will be an end date for new reservations that will be eligible for that pricing. That would pretty much guarantee that they'll sell out of 2013 before the end of 2012.

It's my understanding that the 85kWh pack uses a different tech than the 40 & 60. The 60 is going to weigh 50% more than the 40, but the 85 shouldn't weigh that much more than the 60 since they're about the same size. At least that is the way it was originally envisioned.

For me, I am disappointed that Tesla will not or cannot provide specific dates for e pricing nor options. If Tesla cannot provide dates it's due to manufacturing issues. If they will not provide dates, it's marketing and this is getting old.

I have had a "reservation" for a signature S since last april. I look forward to the day when I can drive my S home because I will be driving a car that is the future of the automotive industry, not another polluter of the highway. Someday Tesla might even be able to tell me when that will be. ;)

My guess, the legal department has stepped up to the plate. In the real world there are 40-60-85 kwh batteries, however, there are NO 160-230-300 miles per charge.

I suspect the 'world' will hold Tesla to a higher standard than ICE and hybrids.

Jim, I don't think it's marketing. IMO, the reason they haven't put a date on the release of pricing/options is because they still don't have all the ducks in a row and until that last duck is lined up, they can't pull the trigger. (How about that twisted analogy, eh?)

They could be waiting for supplier contracts to be completed or they could be finalizing pricing calculations that have to stand up to the scrutiny of various parties. They're getting close, but no cigar yet.

Since it's going to be at least 7 months before I get my car, I'm not too concerned about date of the release of options. Their release will just provide a few days of "solitaire" to waste time. The way George described it in the letter, it's going to be like GI Joe or Barbie. We'll get to dress up our car, try out different outfits, and see it from all kinds of angles. Oooo, maybe we'll even get to see our decked out car in a virtual video! :D

Glad to hear from TM. I received it as well. I am getting the 260km, or now, I guess I should say the 40KWh.

Deception since I am now sure I have at least a year to wait and that the $50K model will only be available 6 months after launch. I guess that low price point comparing to Signature drove them to wanna buy a bit of time to get battery prices lower until they break even.

One good point, I'll get to hear from some of you on their Sig and 60KWh true pricing are performance/range before making my break or make decision...

Yep, you need to look at the bright side of things pbrulott. I don't think "deception" enters into the picture though. They've been pretty up front all along that the base $50k model would be delayed and that they were going to front-load the 300 and 230 mile packs because of the needed profit margins.

I don't blame them at all. They've been running on negative fumes ever since they started the company. They *have* to get some serious profits started, and quick!

I am saddened to hear "85 kWh" rather than "90 kWh", but whatever, I don't need the extra range.

As for Wh/mile, we really need those graphs. My driving will not go over 65 mph until I leave the state, and will not go over 55 mph for at least the first 30 miles (that's how far I am from the nearest expressway, and only expressways have 65 mph limits in NY). It's even longer on rural roads if I'm going in certain directions. In fact a lot of it will be at even lower speeds as I take roads which turn into city streets (30 mph) through old downtowns.

Given that the Wh/mile seem to be extremely speed dependent on the Roadster, with optimal results in the 20-40 mph range, and I expect the same for the Model S, I suspect my real-world range will be vastly different from those cruising on 85 mph expressways all day.

What is *my* range, that's what I want to know. I don't care about the EPA 2-cycle or 5-cycle tests, I want range numbers for each speed.

Oh, BTW, anyone else hoping for a fifth color for the Signature? I know I am.... seriously, white, black, grey, red?

I didn't get a letter.

Hmmm, I didn't get a letter

Mycroft;
Yeah, you had me spinning with visions of ducks smoking cigars, and being shot at by Barbie and Ken. Downright brain-abusive, I say!

Weight difference. 85kWh battery is over twice as heavy as 40kWh. It can't be linear because of that. (Timo)

Thanks, Timo. I completely ignored the weight difference, but that probably explains it (whether or not the 85 kWh pack is actually twice as heavy as the 40 kWh pack is a different question, but it is certainly heavier).

This insight also tells us that as long as your commonly needed range is well within the capabilities of a smaller battery pack, you should choose the smaller pack to optimize your electricity bill. If you plan to lug around the 85 kWh pack every day when you only commute 70 miles, just for that once-in-a-year trip where even 300 miles does not entirely cover it, it may make more sense to choose the smaller pack for your EV and rent/borrow an ICE for that longer trip.

The fact is YMMV. Check out the graph on the roadster miles/kWh...
http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/roadster-efficiency-and-range

We still have no precise details on the various pack configurations, but many have conjectured that the 40 and 60kWh packs are the same chemistry while the 85 is a slightly different chemistry. If this is true, it may contribute to the non-linearity of the ranges. Remember that a battery is rated at a "C" rate of one or lower in the industry.( Your car battery is rated at C/20!) As you draw higher "C" rates (A 100AH battery disharged at 1 C would be 100Amps for example- 2C being 200Amps, C/20 being 5 amps.), then the capacity lowers. This Puekert effect is small in Lithium based chemistries but is still noticable at higher current draws. I'm suggesting that the 85kWH pack is not only heavier, but also has a higher Peukert effect when used in TESLA's configuration of high C rate domains.

We'll be releasing U.S. pricing for Model S shortly. There have been a lot of rumors about price increases out there. I'm happy to say that we will deliver Model S with the 40kWh battery at the price we announced in 2009 of 49,900 after federal tax credits. We will also stick to other commitments we made earlier this year regarding delivery of the 85kWh battery the middle of 2012, the 60 kWh battery about 3 months later and the 40 kWh battery around the end of the year. Be on the look out for more detailed U.S. Model S pricing and options packages in the next few weeks. This pricing will be in effect for all current U.S. reservation holders.

So what about the rest of the world? I feel quite frustrated as non U.S. customer... To us no commitment of any kind is made. In the U.S Big event in California, tours and demos of Alpha then Beta. And In Europe... Only "Roadster tours"... A car TM is almost not selling anymore... And what is promised : another event in Fremont factory...

Mr Blankenship you are supposed to be the expert in customer experience, well my experience so far, is that from where I am, I don't feel much love from Tesla.

>In the U.S Big event in California,

Uh, it was a tour of the factory. What did you expect?

>US tours and demos of Alpha then Beta

The US market opens something like 6+ months before they'll start European deliveries. 6 months ago the US wasn't seeing anything either. If you're not seeing action in another 6 months, then I can see the point.

>And what is promised : another event in Fremont factory

Again, it's a _factory_ tour. What do you want them to do, move the factory for you?

TM never published pricing outside the USA.

ManuVince, I feel a bit like you, although I think that ckessel's points are valid.

On top, Tesla is probably deliberate not to stir too much media before they can actually deliver (in non-US markets). They would put the Model S at the risk of being perceived as vapor ware, while their most important goal with this car is to prove the feasibility of a "serious" EV. I am as impatient as you are, but I have to admit that Tesla is probably well-advised to play it low-profile outside the U.S. for another few months.

I don't know where you are located, but Tesla seems to be planning something for the Geneva Auto Salon come March. I hope for something that significantly exceeds a booth with a car on display and give-away flyers. At that time -- six months after the factory tour and nine months in advance of the first deliveries to Europe -- they should offer test rides to European reservation holders.

JimBl,

Tesla is doing exactly what we in the software field are encouraged to do. (and Tesla in many ways acts like a software company....). Under commit, over deliver. Be conservative on your milestones, never miss them, deliver more than expected, and do it right. Create delighted customers.

I have been very impressed with their execution. I want details too, but what bits of information i'm getting need to be solid, not just early.

If it makes any of the Europeans feel better, the US is a big country. An awful lot of folks haven't really been near an Alpha showing and certainly haven't been near Fremont, CA. Fremont is nearly as far from New York as London is from New York.


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