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Tesla Model S has 265 miles electric range, 89 MPGe, per official EPA ratings

With the Model S launch around the corner, the EPA released the official ratings today, confirming the numbers Tesla published last month, unless ones mind remembered the other, much higher, range rating claimed by Tesla.

With the impending official launch of the Tesla Model S, the EPA released its official ratings of that electric car. The ratings fall in line with the estimates Tesla published over a month ago, and validate that Tesla achieved its range and efficiency goals for the Model S. With the EPA ratings in hand we can now compare the Model S to other all electric luxury cars, if there were any.

The EPA ratings were released for the regular version of the Model S, with a base price of $77,400. It has an 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack, does 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, a top speed of over 120 miles/hr, and begins shipping this summer following the 1,000 Signature series cars.

The official EPA ratings are: 89 miles/gallon equivalent (combined), 88 MPGe (city) and 90 MPGe (highway), based on consuming 38 kilowatt hours per 100 miles (combined). The cost to drive 25 miles is $1.25, and the EPA forsees an annual fuel cost of $700. The official EPA driving range is 265 miles, and will take 12 hours to recharge at 240 volts.

The efficiency of the Model S is in line with the other electric cars. The Coda electric car has a 73 MPGe (46 kilowatt hours / 100 miles), the Nissan Leaf has an 99 MPGe (34 kilowatt hours / 100 miles), the Ford Focus Electric has a 105 MPGe (32 kilowatt hours / 100 miles), the Mitsubishi i-MiEV as a 112 MPGe (30 kilowatt hours / 100 miles), and the Honda Fit EV has a 118 MPGe (29 kilowatt hours / 100 miles).

The charging time reported by the EPA requires a much longer time than the other electric cars, because of the relatively huge battery pack. The 85 kilowatt hour battery pack, when charged at a 10 kilowatt rate supported, would require at least 9 hours of charging and could well add up to 12 hours for a complete recharge from 0. This will make the Twin Chargers, supporting a 20 kilowatt charging rate, a nice option for reducing the charging time. On the other hand, if you're out and about using public charging stations, you'll be unlikely to get more than a 7 kilowatt charging rate (240 volts, 30 amps, is 7.2 kilowatts). For contrast, the Nissan Leaf, with a 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack, requires 7 hours to recharge, with its built in 3.3 kilowatt charger.

What may be a head-scratcher for some is that Tesla claimed the Model S has a 320 mile driving range, while the official EPA rating is 265 miles driving range. We predict that some will have skipped over the details Tesla published at that time, and start complaining about Tesla inflating their range estimates, when in fact Tesla also predicted a 265 mile driving range.

What's going on, and Tesla explained this at the time, is there are two procedures used by the EPA to estimate the driving range. The old procedure (2 cycle), and the new 5-cycle test procedure. The old procedure is carried out at a 75 degrees Fahrenheit ambient temperature, with varying speeds and accelerations at speeds up to 60 miles/hr. The old test isn't very representative of the real world usage patterns, and the EPA is instituting the new 5-cycle test procedure. That test has more test cycles, and pushes the vehicle harder, including both cold- and hot-weather testing. It's thought to be a more realistic test procedure.

It was under the 2-cycle EPA test which the Tesla Model S scored a 320 mile range. Under the new 5-cycle EPA test, the Tesla Model S now scores a 265 mile range. Tesla accurately predicted the EPA rated 265 mile driving range at that time.

The 260 kilowatt electric motor on the Tesla Model S is over twice as powerful as the other electric cars (66 kilowatts for the iMiEV, 80 kilowatts for the Leaf, 100 kilowatts for the Coda, and 107 kilowatts for the Ford Focus Electric), which is part of why the Model S has such blistering fast 0-60 times. This is also why the 320 miles range (at 60 miles/hr) Tesla claimed last month was unlikely to ever be met, because who could ever drive such a fast car at such a sedate speed for such a long distance?


Anonymous (not verified)    June 20, 2012 - 10:35PM

Thank you for the accuracy of your article regarding the range differences. You are absolutely right there are other sites that say Tesla missed their target or misrepresented information to the public.

Rob (not verified)    June 20, 2012 - 11:22PM

"The charging time reported by the EPA requires a much longer time than the other electric cars, because of the relatively huge battery pack."

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, the time taken to charge your car is unrelated to the size of the battery pack, it is only related to the charge used since the last recharge. Most people will plug their vehicles in daily either at home or at work or both. If you have driven 40 miles since your last charge it will take the exact same amount of time to recharge regardless of whether it is a 80kwh battery or a 20kwh battery.

JP White (not verified)    June 21, 2012 - 6:46AM

In reply to by Rob (not verified)

I agree that this is misleading.

I wish they would instead rate the cars speed of recharge in miles per hour.

The LEAF typically charges at 12-15 miles per hour on a Level 2 charger. That makes more sense than saying it takes 7 hours from empty. I've never exceeded a 5 hour charge from empty to full.

David Herron    June 21, 2012 - 3:55PM

In reply to by JP White (not verified)

Rob, When we talk of "recharge time" it is the time to recharge from complete discharge using the standard charger. This time is related to two things: the charge rate of the charger, and the size of the battery pack.

JP, On Tesla's website they do rate it by the speed of recharging in miles per hour of charging. I often bring that into the articles I write.