It’s a big moment for electric cars. Tesla announced yesterday that it has cracked the 400-mile barrier, a first for a production electric vehicle sold to the public. The company says the EPA will officially rate the new Long Range Plus version of the Model S for a 402-mile range. Elon Musk had accused the EPA of botching its testing for the Model S earlier this spring.
The company credited several innovations for achieving the new range total with the now eight-year-old Model S, including reducing the weight of some components, new “Tempest” aero wheels and tires, improved drive unit efficiency and better regenerative braking. Better yet: Tesla is celebrating by making that Model S $5,000 cheaper, reducing the price to $74,990.
Hitting that range milestone will be huge for the public perception of electric cars. Beyond the sheer cost of EVs, the biggest mental hurdle to mass adoption is range anxiety. A 400-mile range will be more than most drivers would do in a day. It also makes cross country driving in an electric vehicle reasonable. For instance, could drive from Detroit to New York with one brief stop at a Tesla Supercharger — and there are a number of them en route.
What that rating will mean for drivers in reality is uncertain, however. EPA ratings can vary wildly from observed ranges in real-world driving due to the conditions, vehicle idiosyncracies, or both. Car and Driver’s range testing found the Porsche Taycan S and Tesla Model S Performance had nearly identical ranges, despite a massive gulf in EPA figures. There are also other factors beyond the range to consider when buying a Tesla, so be sure to do your homework.
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