Customers who buy the new Tesla Model S, due out in a month’s time, could enjoy the longest range of any EV to date according to CEO Elon Musk, though you’ll definitely never achieve the 400-mile potential range.
What you will get is ridiculously good range from the newest car to come from the California-based startup currently known for its Roadster EV. Musk explained that under the two-cycle testing required by the EPA, which is composed of 55 percent city driving and 45 percent on the highway, the Model S managed to travel 350 miles on a single charge.
“At Tesla we pride ourselves on transparency with customers and feel that range is a topic where this is particularly important,” Musk wrote in a blog post. “There is not a single fixed range for any given vehicle or battery. The simple reality is that driving range can and will vary by a large amount depending on how you operate the vehicle and external factors such as wind and elevation change.”
He went on to elaborate on the finer points behind managing a 350-mile range in the Model S, which would be achieved in the best of the three available batteries. Musk also mentioned that the average driver is still unlikely to come out with the 350 miles managed during testing because the varying conditions behind every day driving will force the range down even further.
Driving at a constant highway speed between 50 and 70 mph, the Model S should manage to travel between 250 and 350 miles. That’s a big swing from bottom to top, but as Musk said, the company is trying to release numbers that won’t leave buyers thinking they’ve been taken for a ride. As the chart to the right shows, driving at a constant speed around 35 mph should allow for a range better than 400 miles. Similarly at 55 mph we see potential for more than 300 miles, which embarrasses the current industry standard around 100 miles. If you really hope to meet the range we mentioned in the headline you’ll need to drive in perfect conditions, with no wind, at around 35 mph. You can even stretch that to 450 miles if you’re willing to drive at a constant 450 mph, though that would take more than 22 hours to achieve — no pee breaks either.
When the Tesla Roadster was released, the EPA required a two-cycle test, which is what the numbers above are based on. Now, the testing has been ramped up to a five-cycle test. Originally, range was measured in an environment with a 75 degree temperature with highway and city driving measured. Those conditions are still used, but the car is also run in cold conditions with the heater on and warmer settings with the air conditioner. There’s also a high-speed cycle with speeds over 80 mph and rapid acceleration, all meant to push EVs further to better understand their range.
Under those tests, the Model S still seemed to perform well, though with an understandably shorter range than before. With the new factors in place, the company reports a 265-mile range, which is still a record for electric vehicles.