Tesla has improved the efficiency of its Model S and X vehicles, via new motors, wheel bearings, tires and more, giving the Model S Long Range variant 370 miles of range (EPA rating). Motor Trend has already completed an easy Fremont to Hawthorne highway trip, with 11% battery still remaining! Tesla killers have been declared missing in action.
Tesla announced the new powertrains, applicable to all Model S and Model X variants, late Tuesday via a blog post. Whilst the battery remains the same as before, more efficient permanent magnet front motors, wheel bearings and tires, amongst other tweaks, have helped to improve efficiency very substantially. The range on each model has increased on the order of 10% to 12%.
For the Long Range Model S, the EPA range rating has increased from 335 to 370 miles! The improved value proposition has been achieved whilst likely reducing Tesla’s internal costs (the new motor is a variant of the existing high-volume Model 3 motors).
The Standard Range S and X are also now available once more, and include the above 10–12% efficiency improvements.
A Tesla Road Trip for Proof
Motor Trend got a sneak preview of the updated vehicles, and took the new Tesla Model S Long Range for a highway road trip between Fremont (Bay Area) and Hawthorne (LA) — a distance of 359 miles. The journey was undertaken at highway speed limits with AC on (72°F) and the car still had 11% range remaining when it arrived in SoCal (even with a light headwind on the route)! No recharging necessary.
On this basis, the new Tesla Model S Long Range could have been driven up to 400 miles in the same conditions. Despite Fremont being somewhat south of San Francisco proper, this real-world range should readily handle the longer 384 mile downtown San Francisco to downtown LA run without needing a recharge. This is possible because highway range at steady cruising is actually greater than city range in the Tesla Model S (and the X), whilst the headline 370 mile EPA combined range rating obscures this (by averaging out the city and highway efficiency).
Tesla Killers Declared MIA
Meanwhile, the alleged “Tesla Killers” must now be declared officially missing in action. The Jaguar I-PACE has an official EPA combined range of 234 miles but an EPA highway range of 221 miles. In other words, it’s at its least efficient on highway cruises, opposite to the bigger Teslas. Assuming the Model S Long Range gets an EPA highway rating of around 385 miles (albeit, indicating up to 400 miles on the Motor Trend trip), the Tesla has almost 75% more highway range than the I-PACE!
The new Tesla Model X Long Range, meanwhile, gets a 10% range boost to 325 miles (EPA combined). Like the S, it is at its most efficient on highway cruises, and will likely get an EPA highway rating of at least 335 miles. That will put it at a full 50% greater highway range than the I-PACE. Even the Model X Standard Range will likely have at least 260 miles of EPA-rated highway range, putting it 20% higher than the I-PACE.
The Audi e-tron is even further behind, having an official EPA combined range of 204 miles, and likely around 195 miles (if that) on the EPA highway cycle, despite its 95 kWh battery pack. (We don’t yet have the full EPA figures for the Audi, just the EPA combined range of 204 miles). This means that even the Tesla Model X Standard Range has likely a 33% greater highway range than the Audi, and the Model X Long Range has a 72% greater highway range.
Tesla still has no significant competition, and other upcoming models from legacy auto won’t break the mould. Meanwhile, Tesla is obviously not waiting around for others to catch up, but is instead innovating much faster than anyone else. In short, Tesla’s lead is increasing.
With such huge range, the question of charging speeds on the new Model S and Model X becomes less relevant. With 385+ miles of highway range, that’s over 5 or 6 hours of driving! Passengers will need to stop more frequently than the vehicle does. I’ve done the I-5 run from Bay Area to LA a couple of times, and regulars know the vast majority of folks take a rest break on such a trip, for human comfort, whether the vehicle needs to or not.
Even so, the new Model S and Model X can now charge at up to 200 kW on Supercharger V3, and up to 145 kW on V2 Superchargers. This, combined with the greater vehicle efficiency, effectively delivers 50% more miles per minute than previously. In the Tesla Model S Long Range this means that a 20 minute rest break will give you another 2.5 to 3 hours of onwards driving at steady highway cruising speeds.
Effectively, when starting from home with full juice, this gives the Long Range S and X 500+ miles overall range when taking a 20 minute break for a rest and supercharge. When we have more information about the new Supercharging profiles, I’ll do one of my classic 90% range + 20 minute charging charts.
The air suspension has been upgraded on the new S and X to give both a more comfortable ride when cruising, and more instant adjustment for handling optimization when driving progressively. The new system automatically detects the driving conditions and style, and immediately makes the necessary adjustments on the fly.
Finally, existing Model S and Model X owners who wish to update to the new S and X performance variants will be given the Ludicrous mode option for free ($20,000 value).
Check out the Tesla blog post for full information about all the changes. What do you think of the updates? Please jump into the comments to share your thoughts.
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