The mid-range Tesla Model S with SuperCharger is Tesla's sweet spot
The Tesla Model S electric car has an EPA certified driving range of 265 miles, when outfitted with an 85 kiloWatt-hour battery pack. To match the supersized battery pack, the Model S includes a fast charging system capable of a complete recharge in an hour when charged with the Tesla-proprietary SuperCharger. Until now the SuperCharger was standard equipment only for the 85 kiloWatt-hour Model S, and was listed as an option for the 60 kiloWatt-hour Model S, and completely unavailable for the 45 kiloWatt-hour model. It's recently been noticed that the Tesla Model S options page now lists the Supercharger as standard for the 60 kWh model.
It is the 60 kiloWatt-hour Model S with SuperCharger that should be the sweet spot in the Model S lineup. To see why, consider these factoids:
The 60 kWh Tesla Model S has not been officially rated by the EPA, but we can expect it to be certified for approximately a 187 mile driving range. There is a $10,000 price premium between the 85 kWh and 60 kWh versions of the Model S, for which you buy a 265 mile driving range versus a 187 mile driving range.
With the 85 kWh Model S the SuperCharger is designed to recharge 160 miles of travel in about 30 minutes. Tesla has not specified what it does with the 60 kWh Model S, but it should offer a similar charging rate. According to Tesla, the 85 kWh Model S can be recharged within an hour at a SuperCharger station, and the 60 kWh model should take closer to a half hour for a full recharge.
The majority of driving is around town trips, rather than long road trips. Where a 265 miles driving range is far more than enough driving range for driving around even the largest urban areas, a 187 miles driving range should also be sufficient. That is, for all but the most hard-core of road warriors.
While most driving is around town, everybody takes the occasional road trip. The Tesla SuperCharger has the potential to enable Model S owners to take proper road trips. The 85 kWh Model S, with its 265 mile driving range, might be a little better for road trips than the 60 kWh mode. The 85 kWh Model S owner could drive for about four hours, stop at a SuperCharger station, plug in, have a bit to eat, and in an hour or so be back on the road again. The 60 kWh Model S owner would have to stop after about 3 hours of driving. Either vehicle could make for a decent road trip experience almost as good as the gasoline car road trip.
In short, purchasing the 60 kWh Model S would save $10,000 off the purchase price, provide more than enough driving range to travel around town for the typical daily drive. With the now-standard SuperCharger, the 60 kWh Model S should work fairly well for road trips, however the 85 kWh Model S with its longer driving range, will give a better road trip experience. Tesla is supposed to begin manufacturing the 60 kWh Model S this fall.