Tesla has said the highest-end Model S has a range of 300 miles (at 55 miles per hour), but until recently, it's been tremendously difficult for anyone outside the company to verify this number. When the EPA did its testing thing, it came up with a 265-mile range estimate for the version with the 85-kWh battery pack. Tesla is even offering a prize of some sort to anyone who drives a Model S over 400 miles on one charge.

Now, Motor Trend writers has had the chance to spend some time in Tesla CEO Elon Musk's personal Performance Signature Model S to see just how far the electric car can be driven. The result? Your results may vary.

First, the good news. Motor Trend ran a battery of tests on the Model S, and its independent measurements discovered the following ways that their independent testing beat the manufacturer's official numbers:
  • 0-60 time: 3.9 seconds (Tesla official number is 4.4 seconds)
  • Quarter mile: 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph (12.6 seconds)
  • 100.7 MPGe during a 200+ mile drive (EPA says 89 MPGe).
So, then, what's the bad news? At roughly 65 mph with no A/C, MT "only" got 238 miles out of the battery. That's less than advertised, but MT offers an important and reasonable take on this issue:

"But the range that matters is really a psychological/perceptual one, not a specific number. Think about it: We drove from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back to L.A.'s Pacific edge on one charge. Five hours of continuous driving. This is a breakthrough accomplishment that ought to knock down the range anxiety barrier that's substantially limited EV sales."

Word.


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