Tesla Can Unlock More Range on Your Base Model Y for $1,500

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Key Takeaways

  • Tesla can let 260-mile Model Y owners unlock more range starting at $1,500.
  • The company has also introduced a 320-mile version with that range included for $44,490.
  • The company is waiting on approvals to make the unlock available.

Tesla said it can unlock more range on the entry-level Model Y crossover, provided you’re willing to pay extra.

Elon Musk has revealed that all 260-mile Model Y RWD variants made in the “past several months” can add 40 to 60 miles of range for $1,500 to $2,000 through a software toggle depending on the battery cells they have. Tesla is going through “regulatory approvals” to enable the option, the CEO added.

The company has accordingly discontinued that entry Model Y and replaced it with a Long Range RWD trim that provides 320 miles of estimated range for $44,490 before tax credits.

Musk didn’t say why the extra capacity wasn’t available from the start. However, Element Green noted on X (formerly Twitter) that EV makers have to strike a balance between capacity and longevity. When Tesla introduced its newer 4680 cells, it may have been cautious at first to minimize the risk of premature battery replacements under warranty.

The move raises the base price of the Model Y, but maybe appealing for drivers who value range above all else. Provided the unlock goes forward, it also gives 260-mile car owners a way to drive farther without trading in for a new vehicle.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has used software to unlock a battery’s full capacity. The Model S and X variants with 60kWh batteries were actually 75kWh versions with the capacity reduced in software. You paid to get the extra 15kWh if you later decided you needed it.

The strategy this time is somewhat different, however. The Model S and X unlocks were effectively upsells. The Model Y range option appears to be more about a “catch up” for 260-mile customers who were happy with their initial purchases but now want the abilities of the newer configuration.