According to Tesla, their goal is to design a car that gives people the freedom to travel anywhere they want. The automaker has been true to this ideal since the introduction of the first Model S in 2012. This first Model S provided 265 miles on a charge. Since then, the battery pack capacity has greatly improved to offer a longer range.
Further, Tesla estimates that cars in the future will offer more than 500 miles in range. There are many technologies and improvements that go into creating such models.
Which Tesla Drives the Longest?
Currently, the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus has the longest range. The 2020 model offers an EPA-rated range of 412 miles. This is a 20% increase in range from the 2019 model, which yielded about 270 miles on the highway on a charge. The design of the battery pack is the same, but the driving distance is better.
The improved range reflects Tesla’s goal to offer maximum efficiency in the motor and drivetrain. There are several changes on the Model S to bring about more efficiency and longer driving range. The 412-mile EPA rating is available in all Model S Long Range Plus cars.
What Gives the Model S the Longest Range?
To make the Model S more efficient, Tesla improved the motor, the battery, the aerodynamics, and the mass of the car.
• Reduced mass
Tesla reduced the mass of different components on the Model Y and Model 3 before they reduced the mass on the Model S. Significant mass reduction changes the overall engineering and design of the cars. However, as Tesla notes, reduction in mass does not affect the performance and comfort of the Model S. To make each Tesla lighter, the automaker focuses on the use of lightweight materials and in-house seat manufacturing.
• Aero wheels and tires
One of the ways Tesla achieves a longer range is through reduced aero drag. The 8.5-inch wheels on the Model S provide reduced aerodynamic drag, giving a 2% increase in range. These wheels pair with advanced tires that reduce rolling resistance.
• More efficient drivetrain
The motor, drivetrain, and oil pumps are more efficient. Tesla uses their MATLAB model, which they spent 10 years designing, to analyze the efficiency of every component in their cars. This model checks all areas where the car loses energy, and then the engineers perform tweaks to ensure the car maintains top-notch efficiency.
The switch from a mechanical to an electric oil pump ensures the car gets sufficient lubrication regardless of its speed. Further, the automaker made improvements in the motors to add 2% more range when driving on the highway.
• Bigger batteries
The Tesla Model S has the largest battery pack. The first Model S released in 2012 offered an 85-kWh battery pack. Tesla has since improved this battery pack to offer about 15% more capacity. What makes the Model S and other Tesla models different is that they allow drivers to use almost all the battery pack’s capacity.
With Tesla, the driver has the freedom to choose how high they charge the battery. Tesla recommends that you do not charge beyond 90%. However, you have the full battery capacity to use.
• Advanced regenerative braking
Regenerative braking on the Tesla Model S sends power back to your battery. The HOLD drive feature pairs with the car’s physical brakes. This system brings the car to a stop smoothly and operates at a lower acceleration rate and lower speed.
• More supercharging stations
Some critics note that a range of at least 200 miles is enough for all drivers. According to an article on CNN, most people drive not more than 40 miles every day and are able to charge at home overnight. Battery packs that offer more than 200 miles are only ideal when you need to go on a road trip. The same article notes that more people need better charging stations.
Tesla offers both long-range and better charging stations. Currently, the automaker has more than 1,000 supercharging stations in the U.S. alone. These superchargers provide high-voltage charging to yield 160 miles after a 15-minute charge. This is a great improvement from the earlier version of the supercharger, which offered an additional 70 miles after a 15-minute charge.
Even as Tesla focuses on the battery pack and efficiency, they still offer premium features and improved safety on their cars. They may have cut down on mass by shedding unnecessary weight, but they still have advanced features such as auto lane change, Navigate on Autopilot, and Smart Summon.
Which Tesla Offers the Lowest Range?
The original Tesla Roadster offers the lowest range for all Tesla models. Tesla called the original Roadster the fastest EV car in the world. The Roadster is still the fastest EV supercar, but the original model was not that successful. Tesla was still new as a company, and they were trying out everything to make the car work.
When Tesla started in 2003, Elon Musk wanted to license and reproduce technology from AC Propulsion. As it turned out, the technology was analog, not digital, and they had to rewrite every code to make it suit their needs. The other challenge was that the battery pack from AC Propulsion used air for cooling. This method did not provide enough cooling for a battery that offered so much power to an electric car.
There were so many challenges with the Roadster, but that didn’t stop Tesla from moving forward with its goals. Elon Musk was known for sleeping in the manufacturing area most days to ensure everything went right.
Tesla Battery Advancements
Tesla offers larger batteries in its cars. However, there is much more to these batteries than their capacity.
To make the batteries lighter and more durable and give them more capacity without increasing their size, Tesla uses innovative materials. The latest battery improvements promise to reduce the cost of batteries by 56% in the company’s bid to produce affordable electric cars, but that will come in a few years.
The increased range comes from a combination of advanced battery chemistry, better cell design, and a better cell manufacturing process. The company currently uses cobalt in its batteries, but they plan to use nickel in the future.
Another advancement is the use of tabless cells that are less prone to overheating. The company also plans to start mining lithium to make batteries cheaper. There are many technologies that Tesla uses in their car batteries and many more that are in the pipeline.
Over the years, Tesla has improved the battery manufacturing process to make it more efficient. Each battery offers enhanced efficiency and lasts longer.
Tesla Has the Best Adjustment Factor Numbers
Before the EPA rates an EV car, they take it through rigorous testing where they test the car until the battery depletes completely. During the test, the window sticker range reduces by about 30%. However, Tesla has improved the efficiency of the various components in its cars so that the efficiency doesn’t reduce by that much.
Most of the EV vehicles on the market reduce the range by 30% or more after the test. The Tesla Model S reduces by 10% or less, making it highly efficient.
The bottom line is that the increased range of the Model S Long Range Plus is a combination of a larger battery pack and more efficient vehicle components.