The Model S and the Zoe

Tesla soars to all-time high after CEO says company is now profitable

The Mercury News headline above says it all, except: Tesla Cancels Lowest-Range Version of Model S

Now-profitable Tesla is discontinuing the 40 kilowatt-hour battery pack version of its Model S – which starts (started) at $59,900, saying only 4% of prospective buyers wanted the lowest range configuration. At My Husband’s electric car, Deborah wrote that she was surprised, but she probably shouldn’t be, since many of her articles deal with range anxiety in their Nissan Leaf. The discontinued 40 Kwh model claimed 160 miles (125 EPA) – almost twice the range of a 24 Kwh Leaf, but even that isn’t enough for people that have grown up to expect 250 miles or more on a tank of gasoline or diesel. The 60 Kwh configuration claims 230 miles (208 EPA) and the 85 Kwh configuration claims 300 miles (265 EPA), putting them closer to expectations.

So Tesla is doing well and is trying to attract even more buyers with low front-end payment and guaranteed resale price plans. I like the car, but I’ll still have to wait until I win a lottery.

At the other end of the price point is the Renault Zoe – one of three finalists for World Green Car of the Year – losing to the Model S. TechRadar’s Jeremy Laird asks, Is Renault’s revolutionary Zoe the first truly mainstream electric car?

UK on-the-road prices start at just £13,650. … For EV aficionados, there’s nothing hugely surprising about the Zoe. Nissan’s Leaf is a little quicker, but also feels less agile than the Zoe. … On the official NEDC cycle, the Zoe is rated at 130 miles. For context, the Nissan Leaf is rated at 109 miles …

The range of the Leaf trends closer to 80 at higher speeds, so the 22 Kwh Zoe probably trends closer to 95, and seems much less expensive to boot. £13,650 is roughly $21,000, which is very comparable to many small hatchbacks. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. You buy the Zoe’s coach and motors, but lease the batteries for another £70, or $105, per month.

Since the range of an EV will decline with age and use of its batteries, I actually like that battery-leasing idea more than Laird, but I take his point that the added monthly cost does leave the supermini EV less competitive with ICEs and hybrids. But unless some sort of rebadging is arranged, Renault won’t be selling them in the US anytime soon anyway.

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