60 or 85 kwh battery for my new Model S ?

I am evaluating the trade-off between $ and range of the 60 and 85 kwh batteries for my new Model S; any sage advice would be much appreciated.

Do you live near any existing (or planned) supercharges?
How often do you drive more than 140 miles without stopping for an hour or more?
Do you ever need to drive more than 185 miles without stopping?

The 60 Kwh battery Ideal Range is 230 miles at maximum charge. It is recommended by Tesla that you not normally charge it over 90% to 207 miles of Ideal Range. I have only had my 85 Kwh car about 2 weeks, and with 70 mph average freeway driving it looks to me like I am getting about 2/3 of Ideal Range. So the 208 x .67 = 139 miles. If you are within say 125 miles of a supercharger, after going there you could go at the most about 70 more miles each way from the supercharger, or 140 miles absolutely maximum to the next supercharger.

Otherwise get the 85Kwh battery which will charge to 270 miles Ideal Range, or driving the way most of us do about 181 miles....

See my 60kwh road trip log just posted in this forum -- I was debating the same question and went with the 60 -- I think it's perfectly fine for most uses, especially if you live in California, or another region with a moderate climate and a good network of EV chargers.

And it is plenty fast!

Same here. Live in Atlanta. Got the 60 and its super fast and plenty of range. Drove over 70 miles the other day at highway speeds and had over half the battery left with 110 miles rated range starting with 186. Honestly you need to decide if the extra 40-60 miles you get with the 85 is worth the $$.

Well said kayalir & Jvaret. I opted for 60 primarily because it's range is adequate for my typical driving needs. I did opt for Supercharging to make it possible to do longer trips using supercharges. Eagerly waiting for my car now.

Cold and high speed are the big "eaters". As some have noted, if you avoid freeways and take secondary highways, you get much more range. Also, letting your wife drive adds lotsa range. ;)

I also have the supercharger hardware (early adopter) and looking forward to the stations getting built in the southeast so I can take this baby to the beach!!!

Do you have the paddlewheel option?

No I must have missed that one in the options

The trick is you have to stay above 40 knots, and never let the car settle, leaving a 6" air cushion under the battery at all times. So the wheels really have to be kept crankin'.

There're chain drives between front and back hubs, of course, until the AWD is available; there has to be power applied at both ends to keep the air cushion from collapsing.


I think it might be more appropriate for SpaceX to build the electric hovercraft, not Tesla.

@rsbevans is right on the money. I have the 85 kwh and I think I'd be bummed out if I didn't.
300 miles is only under ideal conditions (flat, 55 mph, no acceleration, moderate weather, etc...).
The EPA rated range (which is displayed on the dash) is 265 miles at 100% charge
Tesla recommends 80% (not 90%) charge, so that gets you to 212 miles (80% of 265) of rated range.

Now if I account for my actual energy usage of about 350 Wh/mile (due to speed mostly), at 100% charge I'd only expect 242 miles of range. At the standard 80% charge I'd expect to get 194 miles or range, and I'd say that's about right. My round trip from Berkeley to Palo Alto is 82 miles, and I usually have about half the 240 rated miles left when I get home.

So in general I'd say for real-world driving in a moderate climate (Bay Area), I'd expect a practical day-to-day range that's 2/3 of the "marketing range". If you get the smaller battery (say the 160 mile range option) then applying the same math you'd expect only about 105 miles of range.


are you sure about your standard range goes only to 80%? Even infamous John M. Broder from NYT was able to charge the car up to 90% (242 rated miles of standard charge)...


Well, I did call Tesla about it when I first got the car and it only charged to 240 miles, and they said it charges to 80%; 80% of 300 = 240) and that's what is displayed on the dashboard after a full "standard" charge. I also thought it should have been 90% at the standard charge per the web site or perhaps the manual which is why I called them to ask, but they said no, it's 80% at the standard charge level.

The confusing thing for me is that if I change the charging setting to the Max Range option which supposedly gets you to a full 100% charge (Which I presume fills up the 85 kWh battery) the dashboard only says 265 miles of range, not the expected 300 miles.

I also called Tesla about that and they said that the speedometer display shows EPA rated range (265) at full charge. I think it's weird to show the "marketing range" when at the 80% charge level (80% of 300 miles) but show the EPA rated range at the 100% charge level (265).

If they are going to use EPA rated range numbers in the dash, then at 80% charge is should say 212 miles (80% of 265), and at 100% it should say 265 miles.

I have sent all this to Tesla's email address. There is room for more clarity on this issue I think.

No, it's surface effect, not hovercraft air cushion. But the paddle-wheels take a pounding, which is why they're titanium.

Alan provided some great numbers but keep this in mind if you haven't finalized your order yet. The $10,000 jump to the 85 kwh battery gains only 57 miles of epa rated range, from 208 to 265 miles. That's about $175 per mile. Consider it will take less than 2 hours at a 50A charging station (available at most RV parks if your on the road) to put 57 miles back in your battery. How many times in a year will your total daily miles driven put you in that spot where you needed that extra 57 miles and are you willing to stop for 1 or 2 hours to charge on those days. Again, it might be less than 208 vs 265 as Alan pointed out (depends on how you drive, temp etc.) but in the end it's a difference of about 57 miles no matter how you drive.

What I know from other threads standard charge is arounf 240mi (90% of EPA 265). And it also sounds right if you consider that after charging in standard mode it shows 240, and in max it shows 265...
But after all, it doesnt matter that much if it is 80% or 90%, important is that on the dash it is rated range and if it shows 240mi I'd believe it is rated, not ideal.

PS: However, you are the owner, not me, so you should know more than me :-)

Buyer's remorse... I am into 10 days since I booked my Tesla, went with 60 KwH. After reading up a bit and talking to people, I am more inclined to call up Tesla and change it to 85 KwH. It is a 10K difference between them, but I don't want to feel later when I am stranded on the highway that I should have gone for 85 KwH. So I am going to change my order now to go with 85 KwH.

Yeah, you will spare yourself worries and concerns if you drive much in the 200mi+ range.

Better now than 6 months from now...

I know I can live with a 60 and be very happy....

However, I got a 85 because:

1) I would have ordered Supercharging and the Michelin tire upgrade anyway so it was only $7K extra for me.

2) I plan to keep the car for at least 10 years and I figure if it degrades to a 60Kwhr range by then I am still good for a few more years...

3) I will probably only charge to 80% daily so the pack will be under less stress with the same range as the 60 charged to 90%.

Like I said it was worth $7K to me, but the 60Kwhr would have most likely worked just as well for me. It will be my company/personal car. I have to keep a milage log and know that I almost never exceed 150 miles in a day. If I do I have other vehicles...

I have a 70-80 mile range EV (A converted 1974 VW Thing) and it covers 90% of my daily driving so I know the 60 would be fine to cover 100% of my daily driving needs...

Madesh : I also changed to 85 after confirming. Webcrawler logic applies to me.


#2: Not just a few more; degradation flattens out considerably, so you're in the long-life part of the sequence by then.

If you have the means, definitely go with 85 or P85. The added range on long trips is well worth it. The faster acceleration is well worth it. A 50 mile buffer is needed for cold weather or freeway speeds.

You should compromise on other options rather than battery size if intention is to save money.

I have a 60, and live in Ohio. I've had it a year and have 28,000 miles on it. I've taken several long trips, which often involve charging at campgrounds as Superchargers are just now coming into the State.

If I could rewind a year, I would get an 85, if for nothing else resale value and longevity. Supercharging capability and Twin Chargers are essential, so if you make a tradeoff, get those first.

I went for a 60 loaded with a few options rather than a bare bones 85, and I do not regret the decision. I get to enjoy the options every day (pano roof, leather, air, sound), but have not yet run into a situation where the shorter range has had a material impact. I have about 19k on the car in about 13 months of ownership. I've driven from the bay area to San Diego using superchargers, only difference from the 85 being that the recharge times are a few minutes longer. As the density of superchargers increases the 60 will get even more practical for longer trips. Ultimately the supercharger network is being put in place to support the model E, which will have comparable range to the 60.