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Tesla quietly kills 85-kWh Model S battery pack option

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(Read caption) A Tesla Model S is on display on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA this past Fall.

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Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has defined the market for the electric car and now it is further defining its own lineup. Rolling into 2016, the Silicon Valley automaker offered the Model S sedan with three different lithium-ion battery pack sizes: 70, 85, or 90 kilowatt-hours. Just over a month into 2016, however, Tesla quietly killed off the 85-kWh battery pack option.

This move actually simplifies the Model S lineup leaving just four models: the rear-wheel-drive 70, all-wheel-drive 70D, all-wheel-drive 90D, and all-wheel-drive P90D.

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While it simplifies the lineup, it also might push some Model S buyers into a more expensive car. The base Model S 70 still starts around $70,000 and it offers 230 miles of EPA-estimated range (240 miles for the 70D). With the 85-kWh battery option gone, the next step up is the 90D, with a price of at least $88,000. A 2015 Model S 85 started at $80,000.

The exact reason for the death of the 85-kWh battery's death isn't clear, but one can assume the 90-kWh battery pack cannibalized sales.

AutoBlog reached out to Tesla regarding the situation and was told, "The recently introduced 90-kWh battery pack offers unprecedented range and value that has been well received by our customers. As a result, we will no longer be offering the 85-kWh battery. Model S is designed to be completely customizable, ensuring that customers are able to build the car that meets their unique needs and Tesla is committed to continued innovation and the development of industry-leading technology."

The 90-kWh battery pack was introduced last summer along with the Ludicrous mode. Since then, Tesla's been busy with the launch of the Model X high-riding hatch, preparing for the Model 3, and bringing the Gigafactory online.