Like it or hate it, the Edmunds “Real World” range test is a good one. Instead of following some unrealistic EPA driving cycle, where speeds max out around 50-55 MPH, Edmunds drives cars on the freeway the way people actually drive them. This works out better for some brands than others, with some recent controversy over Tesla’s results leading to a lot of fan-hate for them (followed by a retest until the cars were completely out of juice). Despite the controversy, it’s still a very useful test that’s worth considering.
Mercedes-Benz EQS Knocks It Out Of The Park
When Edmunds took their EQS test car out on the freeway loop they typically take, they had no idea what they were in for. The car they were provided was obviously optimized for range, with minimal options and tires with less rolling resistance, so they knew it would probably outperform the EPA range a bit, but they didn’t know that it would go 72 miles more than its EPA-rated range. This took the team 12 “cheek numbing” hours.
The result? 422 miles, which is a lot more than the EPA-rating of 350 miles.
This puts the Mercedes-Benz EQS at the top of Edmunds’ EV Range Leaderboard, beating the next best car by 77 miles. For reference, the #2 and #3 cars are the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and the Model S Plaid, both of which got 345 miles in Edmunds testing. In the case of the Teslas, the Edmunds testing was within a few miles of EPA numbers, while most other cars on the list exceed EPA range by a substantial amount.
Why Are Most Cars Beating EPA Range By So Much? Why Is Tesla Closer To EPA Range?
With gas-powered cars, EPA ratings have almost always been beyond what people typically get. People testing cars on an EPA cycle (this is almost always done by the manufacturer and not the EPA) tend to hypermile the vehicle so it will get the best EPA ratings possible. This helps raise the company’s CAFE fleet averages, and eases the regulatory burdens.
When it comes to EVs, they’re facing a very different situation.
First off, there’s less motivation to get the absolute best number. The MPGe (MPG equivalent) of an electric vehicle is typically astronomical compared to even the best gas vehicles. In the case of the EQS, that’s 97 MPGe. If you’re already getting almost 100 MPG for the CAFE ratings, you’ve already essentially hit a home run. Hitting that ball any harder won’t make it any more of a home run. On top of that, there are the other regulatory benefits to building an EV, which further helps the company.
Given that they don’t need to eek out the best possible numbers, it makes sense to be sure the customer isn’t going to feel betrayed by that EPA figure. Most of us here know that an EV tends to get lower range on the highway than in the city, but the average buyer probably expects to get that figure when they’re planning what EV to buy. If you work super hard to get a great but unrealistic number, you’ll end up with angry buyers with no upside.
It’s also possible to arrive at a range figure and ask the EPA to “derate” it to a lower number, and that is what manufacturers may be doing here. Once again, there’s no real upside to getting unrealistic numbers, so derating the EPA figure could be a good way of keeping customers happy.
The amount of derating likely varies significantly by manufacturer, with Tesla trying to get its numbers more “on the nose” (which they’ve achieved), and other manufacturers trying to set the bar lower so their cars will almost always exceed that range to avoid customer disappointment at all costs.
Featured image provided by Mercedes-Benz.