Tesla intends to tap into the huge enthusiasm for its upcoming Model 3 and also boost flagging sales growth of its existing cars. For this, it released a lower-priced version of its Model S electric sedan priced at $66,000, which began selling on Thursday. This version comes with a battery modified to limit the vehicle’s travel range to about 200 miles on a charge, reports The Wall Street Journal. The lower-priced Model S is sold at a price that is 9% less than the prior lowest-cost model.
Tesla aims to boost Model S sales
Tesla’s new Model S will come with a battery pack that can be software-upgraded to hit around 250 miles on a charge. It also comes in an all-wheel-drive version, which is priced at $71,000. Both versions will have access to the EV firm’s fast-charging network for free and will come with its standard Autopilot driver-assist hardware.
Such a move follows a decline in Model S sales reported in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. Sales were up on a year-over-year basis. For now, this new version will use a 75-kwh battery with its range capped by software at about 200 miles. However, drivers can unlock the additional range by paying an extra $9,000.
RBC Capital analyst Joseph Spak said the fact that the company has reduced the price of the Model S could indicate that Tesla intends to pull in sales that could have been delayed by the enormous attention surrounding the Model 3’s introduction earlier this year.
NHTSA looking into Model S suspension problem
In other Tesla news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday that it was looking into reports of a suspension problem in the Model S. The safety regulator also said that the company’s nondisclosure agreement is troublesome and discourages customers from reporting safety problems with the vehicle.
The NHTSA said it tried collecting information regarding the reported suspension problems from Tesla and car owners but did not begin a formal investigation. Faulty suspensions may lead to drivers losing control of their vehicles. It must be noted that the agency did not say there were defects with the vehicles or that they had major safety problems.
Citing a person close to the company, the WSJ informs readers that Tesla is reviewing the suspension issue but that it didn’t find it to be a widespread problem. The person informed the media outlet that the company entered into the agreement with the customers with the intent of preventing them from discussing issues on the Internet but not to prevent them from talking with regulators.
Tesla confirmed that it asked an owner to sign the agreement in exchange for covering some repair costs, says the WSJ.