Tesla Says Model S May Go 400+ Miles On a Charge

Next month Tesla plans to commence with its first all-electric Model S deliveries, and these premium 85-kwh versions may be able to be coaxed to over 400 miles range.

At least this was the word yesterday in blog post by Elon Musk and JB Straubel which said the $77,400-$105,400 electric sedan will top the outgoing Roadster’s max by a hundred miles or more.

Thus far, it’s only theoretical, Musk and Straubel said, and the EPA’s latest test results will not state 400 miles on the window sticker. But under ideal conditions and citing a computer-generated graph, Tesla says it could be a matter of time before it’s recorded. As such, Musk and company are contemplating what would be a suitable prize for the first Model S driver to hit 400.

“You can also see that at slower speeds it could even be possible to exceed 400 miles in a Model S under the conditions above,” said the co-written blog post. “We haven’t internally demonstrated that yet and we are planning a prize for the first customer that actually drives over 400 miles on a single charge. :)”

The now-discontinued 55-kwh Roadster coupe is able to be nursed to 300 miles under ideal conditions, but more often sees much lower range when someone drives the sports car with enthusiasm, and not like a hypermiler.

The new 85-kwh Model S – available in four versions – is expected to top all important benchmarks for less money, and with more practicality.

“Even though the Model S is a much larger and heavier car than Roadster with ridiculously more cargo capacity the total battery energy consumption on the highway is only about 10 percent more than for the Roadster!” Musk and Straubel wrote. “This is quite amazing and results largely from the Model S having the best aerodynamics of any sedan in its class with a Cd of approximately 0.24.”

The graph shows the 85-kwh S can more reasonably hit 350-250 miles in the 50-70 mph range under the following conditions:

• Constant speed (such as using cruise control)

• Flat ground, no wind

• Climate control OFF or using vent only (no heat or air conditioning)

• 300 lbs of vehicle load (driver plus passenger or cargo)
• Windows up, sunroof closed

• Tires inflated to recommended pressures

• New battery pack (<1 year, <25,000 miles)

With all power-robbing accessories off, at reasonable constant speed, and possibly with ambient temperature above 90 degrees, Tesla says some hypermiling driver will probably top 400. In fact, if you look at the chart at a slower-than normal 20 mph mark, the vehicle could theoretically squeak out in excess of 450 miles.

All this comes as Tesla continues to amp up the excitement for the pending car line.

“We have applied years of engineering effort and lessons learned from thousands of Roadsters in dozens of countries to make these improvements,” wrote Musk and Straubel. “These results are more compelling than those achieved by any other EV.”

Actually the total Roadster production run was somewhere around 2,400 units, but the point is made, if a little exuberantly.

And in any event, Tesla boasts the Model S “has a range that far exceeds any other production EV ever built.”

First deliveries are scheduled for June. Subsequent models with a 60-kwh and 40-kwh battery are expected to follow the initial launch of 85-kwh versions.

Tesla’s business model has been to start with a premium car with maximum visceral appeal – the Roadster – then progressively go down market with trickle-down technology and other feasible tech advances applied. The S is still decidedly up market, but all this is leading somewhere positive for many more people in time, the company says.

In not too many years from now, the company intends to design and sell electric vehicles well below $50,000, and reportedly within reasonable reach of the sub $30,000 average American new car price.

Tesla Enthusiasts Blog

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  • Van

    Obviously we need the second generation battery to make EV’s available to other than upper market folks. The average new car price of about $28,000 is not broached with any EV. And the $35,000 jobs only have about half the battery capacity necessary, i.e 24 vice 42 KWh.

    If we assume the $28,000 price range difference is driven solely by the battery (85-55) then the battery cost is around $900 per kwh.

    The goal, from years ago was a battery cost of less than $300 per kwh, and that still looks like the true barrier to shifting off fossil fuel burning polluters.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    That will certainly all but eliminate range anxiety…. looks like 25 mph is the ideal speed for max range…


  • Max Reid

    If someone gives me this car, then I will drive at exactly the speed limit to get a higher range and also this will allow other overtaking drivers to take a look at the car.

    If it attains 300 mile range. That’s very good. So far, all the EVs in the hybrid market dashboard has low sales. I will atleast Tesla publishes its sales figure and its decent.

    All those who buy high end Hybrids like LS600h, ML450, X7 can buy this car and save a lot of money.

  • Tony Tan

    Try to bring the prices down, otherwise other fuels will grab the market.

    Chinese produced 11,900 CNG powered vehicles in Dec-2011.

    Meanwhile there is big news about Butanol from waste sources becoming a new auto fuel.

    We should remember that a century ago, Electrics lost the market to petro fuels because of range and price. Unless EV makers concentrate on price reduction, the history will repeat.

  • Van

    Not specifically stated but it appears the mileage above 25-30 decreases due to the drag force (air resistance) requiring more and more energy to push the air aside. Judging totally by looks, the “S” appears to have a low Cd, and therefore the rate of increase in energy consumption as speed increases remains fairly constant. A brick like box design would probably have more of an exponential increase in energy consumption. Alternately, factors other than drag might be making a significant contribution, i.e. rolling resistance, and that might just go up linearly.

    Maybe some could shed some light on the shape of the curves?

  • Van

    At 40 MPH constant speed, the “S” gets 5 miles/kwh, at 55 MPH it gets 4 miles/kwh, and at 70 MPH, it gets 3 miles/kwh. I would have expected the penalty for going from 55 to 70 in energy consumption to be nearly twice as much as from 40 to 55, so I am missing something.

  • duude

    Too many what ifs to get a maybe in my opinion. Clearly, it won’t be reaching the headline range unless they can find a 400 mile downhill course.