First Full Test Shows Tesla Model S Gets 238 Miles Range

How far can Tesla’s 85-kwh Model S go on a single charge? Oh, around 238 miles says Motor Trend after a mixed driving test with some power-saving tricks employed as well.

The U.S. EPA officially pegs its range at 265 miles, but given Tesla had initially limited test drives to much shorter than the automotive industry norm, some had still wondered whether Tesla had something to hide.

For its part, Tesla said it was considering an award for the first person to do 400 miles but bloggers and others have speculated a lot less.

Motor Trend’s editors were the first for a major publication to find out for themselves on a round trip from their El Segundo, Calif. offices south to San Diego and back.

Running the car with A/C off, but ventilation on, cruise control set at a conservative 65 mph and body lowered on its air suspension, it got down to the wire.

“The total range – adding the unused 4 miles, would be 238. Yes, 238 is 11 percent short of 265. Moreover, it was done while being very stingy with performance (for the most part),” wrote the publication. “Is that 265 actually valid? If you drive predominately at highway speeds, then probably not. But were we to have included more medium-speed roads (long stretches at 45-50 mph) well, possibly.”

Still, 238 miles is pretty good – in fact it’s the best presently available for an all-electric production car. Of course this one costs, depending on options, anywhere from over twice to nearly four times the national new car average price of $30,013.

Price of the Model S ranges from an advertised $77,400-$105,400 and we know one person whose out-the-door cost for a fully loaded Model S was $119,600, so yes, this can be a $120,000 purchase, for those folks who want all the trimmings.

Tesla has not started to deliver its 60-kwh models, let alone its 40-kwh models. It will be interesting to see more claims for Model S – from the first hyper miler who publishes a number far exceeding Motor Trend’s attempt at more or less conservative real-world driving, to range estimates for the smaller battery models as well.

Motor Trend


  • Van

    Recently, August 14, 2012, Hybridcars posts an article about an engineer questioning the claimed range of the Model S. The EPA side the range of the 85 KWh model would be 265 miles. Here is how one poster responded:

    “If we run those same number for the 85 Kwh version we get between 190 miles and 258 miles, so expect about 225 miles of range in the 85 kwh version.”

    It seems that calculation (225) was within 6% of the actual. Not too shabby.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    This is the one EV with no range anxiety….perfect…let’s hope they stay afloat, I’d hate to see China buy them.

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Thomas Fisher

    It also seems apparent that they did not use it in the range extending mode. They only actually used ~93% of the battery capacity because the standard mode doesn’t charge 100%. This is done to increase battery life, but it is set up so that if you are taking a longer trip you can charge that last bit and use it.

  • Van

    If the model S does indeed use 93% (79.5 KWh) to go 238 miles, then it gets 3 miles per kwh. Using these numbers the 60 KWh option (56 available) would have a range of 168 miles, and the 40 KWh option would have a range of 112 miles. This reinforces the assertion that any EV needs at least 42 kWh available to avoid range issues.

  • Terrence Holtzhausen

    You are missing the point my man he is taking the rich peoples money , so that he can perfect the technology for better batteries to emerge and to develop the faster charging bits then when the technology is good the mass market mid rang and cheaper ranges of cars will be tested and proven technology, my two cents.

    South Africa.

  • Samuel H.

    Motortrend achieved a 288 miles on a trip from L.A. to Las Vegas, and Edmunds achieved 267 miles; much closer to the EPA rating. Also, it was a fully loaded car with weight-adding, range-reducing options such as a panoramic glass roof, performance tires, and rear child seats. This cynic who made that prediction has been posting anti-EV rhetoric for years.

    The new EPA five-cycle tests are very accurate and Edmunds has proven that to be so. As a future Model S owner, I’m going to put low resistance tires on my car, clear plastic covers on the rims, and remove the child seats when I travel, which won’t be that often. Otherwise, I’d put 20in performance tires on it. They are lighter than the 21in ones, wider, and look less “blingy”.

  • Samuel H.

    Motortrend achieved a 288 miles on a trip from L.A. to Las Vegas, and Edmunds achieved 267 miles; much closer to the EPA rating. Also, it was a fully loaded car with weight-adding, range-reducing options such as a panoramic glass roof, performance tires, and rear child seats. This cynic who made that prediction has been posting anti-EV rhetoric for years.

    The new EPA five-cycle tests are very accurate and Edmunds has proven that to be so. As a future Model S owner, I’m going to put low resistance tires on my car, clear plastic covers on the rims, and remove the child seats when I travel, which won’t be that often. Otherwise, I’d put 20in performance tires on it. They are lighter than the 21in ones, wider, and look less “blingy”.

  • Samuel H.

    Motortrend achieved a 288 miles on a trip from L.A. to Las Vegas, and Edmunds achieved 267 miles; much closer to the EPA rating. Also, it was a fully loaded car with weight-adding, range-reducing options such as a panoramic glass roof, performance tires, and rear child seats. This cynic who made that prediction has been posting anti-EV rhetoric for years.

    The new EPA five-cycle tests are very accurate and Edmunds has proven that to be so. As a future Model S owner, I’m going to put low resistance tires on my car, clear plastic covers on the rims, and remove the child seats when I travel, which won’t be that often. Otherwise, I’d put 20in performance tires on it. They are lighter than the 21in ones, wider, and look less “blingy”.