Tesla Kills Mid-Range Model S 85, Pre-orders For $35,000 Model III Open Next Month

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We can’t say that we didn’t see this one coming. Last year, Tesla Motors introduced a 90kWh battery option for the Model S in a bid to not only offer greater performance, but also a longer driving range. The introduction of the 90kWh battery option has also squeezed out the slightly less capacious 85kWh battery that has been around ever since the introduction of the award-winning electric car back in 2012.

Rather than maintain product lines with similar battery capacities, Tesla has decided to axe the Model S 85. "The recently introduced 90kWh battery pack offers unprecedented range and value that has been well received by our customers," said a Tesla representative in a statement to Mashable. "As a result, we will no longer be offering the 85kWh battery."

With the Model S 85 now out of the picture, the Model S lineup looks like this:

  • Model S 70D (70kWh, all-wheel-drive, $75,000)
  • Model S 90D (90kwH, all-wheel-drive, $88,000)
  • Model S P90D (90kWh, all-wheel-drive, performance model, $108,000)

With that out of the way, there’s also some fresh news on the Model III front, which is Tesla’s upcoming entry-level electric vehicle. Pre-orders for the vehicle will commence in March, when the vehicle is revealed to the public. And although many people remain skeptical that Tesla can actually bring a 200-mile EV to market (and make it profitable) while priced from $35,000 before incentives, the company is doubling down on its claims.

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"We can confirm it's $35,000 before incentives," confirmed a Tesla spokeswoman. "We haven't changed our minds."

Where things get interesting is when you take into account federal and state incentives for EVs. The Model III will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit (depending on your taxable income) which would knock the effective price tag down to $27,500. The state of California addition offers a $2,500 state EV credit which would bring the price down to a sweet $25,000. But that’s not all — the big prize is for potential customers in the state of Colorado. The state offers a $6,000 tax credit, which would make the effective cost of a base Model III $21,500.

While all of this sounds extremely exciting to EV watchers, we have the feeling that the $35,000 Model III will be for all intents and purposes a rolling unicorn. The company will probably artificially limit production so that it can push customers into higher-priced Model III trims which pack on the features.

But all is not lost, customers looking to get secure an affordable EV with a 200-mile range can always turn to the Chevrolet Bolt, which will have a starting price of $37,500 before federal and state tax incentives.