Tesla Model S 60D → 75D Upgrade!
One of the more amazing things about the Tesla Model S (and X, and soon to be 3) are the software updates. And one of the most amazing things you can do with the 2017 Model S 60(D) is upgrade to a 75(D), and therefore your range, over the air. When we purchased our Model S, it was the ‘entry level’ 60D model.
The 60D was more than satisfactory for our needs, delivering just over 300km on a single charge under ‘real world’ driving conditions. But we all knew that the battery was actually 25% larger, and rated at 75kwh. (In fact, some estimates had the 60D at more like ~62kwh in ‘usable’ capacity, making it a good deal.) The upgrade cost to move from the 60(D) to 75(D) was north of $AU10,000, and so while the extra range would have been nice, the upgrade cost was too high.
Then — the upgrade cost dropped pretty dramatically to about one fifth of its original cost, and the equation became much more compelling, especially when considered over the full life of the car. And so we went for it. The actual process I executed on my iPhone sitting in the front seat of the car. The car rebooted, and in less than five minutes we had a 75D. The badging was upgraded later during a quick 30 minute Service Centre visit. You can get a sense for what it’s like to upgrade your car over the air without leaving your driveway in this post. A modern marvel if you ask me.
So what did this buy us? Well, the maximum real world range before the upgrade was just over 300km, and now when we charge 100%, the real world range has jumped to 383km. Very much in line with the 25% boost in kwh.
But what does that buy you in terms of outcomes? Well, after about four months of driving the 75D, day-to-day, the extra 25% doesn’t buy you much. A 300km day is a big one for my driving patterns, and even if we do a weekend away, but not far enough to supercharge, then 300km was usually sufficient for our activities. But what the extra 83km really gets you is: a more margin, more flexibility, less need to watch your speed, and, interestingly, faster charging.
Margin and Flexiblity. Having that extra 25% means that if you do go slightly out of your way, you don’t really have to worry. And if you’re not quite sure where the day will take you, if you charge 100%, then you leave the driveway with that extra bit of range on hand to stretch things out.
Speed is one of the biggest factors dictating your energy usage, and therefore your range. You can see that in the graphs in this post from the Tesla blog, and this is a real world phenomena. What it means is if the navigation tells you that you will be able to reach somewhere, but then other factors like temperature, traffic, wind, etc. drop your actual performance, then the navigation will tell you to slow down to conserve energy. If you have that 25% margin, then there are fewer cases where your speed matters (when it comes to battery life!), and you can drive your natural speed.
Faster charging. In fact, the rate of charge that you get is not impacted. But when you’re Supercharging, the basic guidance is that the first 80% of your charge takes ~20 minutes. And then the remaining 20% takes 20–30 minutes more. Because you’ve got an extra 25% in the battery, it is more likely that you’ll be able to reach the next Supercharger with an 80% charge, and that means that your charging stops could be as brief as 20 minutes. Which adds up on a longer road trip. Of course, if you want to stop for a coffee or lunch, then you can just stay on the Supercharger, and get to 100%. Just make sure you don’t incur Supercharger camping fees… more on that later.