2012 Tesla Model S: EPA Range Of 265 Miles, 89 MPGe Efficiency

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Friday will be a big day for startup electric carmaker Tesla Motors.

On that day, it will deliver its first 2012 Model S luxury sport sedans to retail customers in a big webcast event at its Fremont, California, assembly plant.

But a couple of days beforehand, the EPA has issued the eagerly awaited range and efficiency numbers for the high-end Model S version with the 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack.

The car has a rated range of 265 miles, and an efficiency of 89 miles-per-gallon-equivalent, a measure based on the distance the car can travel on the amount of energy contained in one gallon of gasoline.

That gives that model of the 2012 Tesla Model S the greatest range by far of any battery electric vehicle on the market.

As for efficiency, it puts the Model S behind the tiny Mitsubishi 'i' (112 MPGe), the Ford Focus Electric (105 MPGe), and the Nissan Leaf (99 MPGe), but comfortably ahead of the Coda Sedan (73 MPGe).

With seating for five, plus two optional jump seats for kids in the back, the Model S is a somewhat larger vehicle than any of those competitors. The EPA rates its interior volume at 94 cubic feet (versus 90 cu ft for the Leaf) and cargo space at 26 cubic feet (versus 23 cu ft for the Leaf).

With a 260-kilowatt (350-horsepower) motor powering the rear wheels, It's also likely to be faster; the Leaf comes in at 80 kW (107 hp) and even the Focus Electric, the comparative hot rod of the compact electric set, has only 107 kW (143 hp).

We look forward to learning more about the Tesla Model S, which certainly has a strong fan base among both electric car advocates and fans of fast, sleek, luxury sport sedans.

Meanwhile, now you have officially certified data with which to compare the Model S to any other large all-electric luxury sedan.

Oh. Wait. There are no others. Hmmmmmmmm....


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Comments (37)
  1. Those EPA numbers were announced on May 9.

  2. Source, pls?

  3. John, JB and Elon blogged about it on May 9, and they specifically mentioned 265 miles EPA range.


  4. @George: Thanks for that link, which I'm aware of. But those are claims by a company; the article is about the EPA.

    While manufacturers self-certify, the EPA still has to look over the carmaker's data and give its imprimatur--and that's what this article is about. I'm sure you're as aware as I am of the claims by makers that subsequently haven't panned out in the official EPA ratings ...

  5. John, thank you for your response. Yes, that makes sense, and I'm familiar with the process. Elon and JB did not mention that EPA approval was still pending in their blog post, which would explain why Anton Wahlman, myself, and many others assumed that they were official.

  6. @George: At the risk of perhaps seeming overly cynical, that's not necessarily the first time that officials at Tesla (and many, many other companies) have omitted necessary context for remarks.

    "Trust...but verify." :)

  7. Those were based on initial test results and were realeased by Tesla. Today's results are fully certified by the EPA. Same info, but todays numbers are the only ones that count.

  8. This Friday will be very exciting, I've actually become a little bored with new cars. Most of them are just new versions of cars that have been in production for decades. But the Model S will truly be something new and different.

  9. I agree. When someone releases an all-new, all-ice vehicle, I always think it seems like old news, old tech, boring, and disappointing.

  10. This is the electric car age - how about mileage stated in terms of the fuel it uses (electricity) rather than some meaningless comparison to the amount of energy (not even the extractable energy, no less) found in a gallon of that fuel used by some other vehicles. Only our brainless DOT could come up with a mileage metric this stupid and pointless. By far the most important range figure is that for trips, which means highway
    driving, and on that score the car can clock 300 miles,
    or very close to it. We don't really care what the range is for
    around town/combined conditions. Especially for this vehicle.

  11. @Kent: You may not like the EPA's metrics, but they are the ones that are used at the moment. I would suggest you direct your comments toward them.

    I am also amused at your assertion that "we" are not interested in the Model S's range in "around town/combined conditions". Remind me which group of Model S owners you speak for again, please?

  12. Actually, the city and highway numbers for the Model S are virtually the same. The new 5 cycle tests by the EPA are more realistic for electric cars than the 2 cycle test that the Model S was designed to get 300 miles under.

    The main difference with the new numbers is that it includes running accessories and variations in driving intensity that made less difference with a gas powered vehicle, but cause a bigger drop in electric performance.

    Regardless, 265 miles on the 5 cycle test is outstanding performance for an electric. Few people drive that much in a day without opportunities to charge the vehicle, so its very likely that Model S owners will spend a LOT less productive time on charging than an ICE car spends getting gas.

  13. Do a little research before going off on a rant of what u assume to be true. Or is that too much to ask for a guy that apparently says he represents all of us w/ his comments that we don't care about city range. Which is wrong again.

    Do you not check the epa's website for vehicle fuel economy? Right there in b n w:

    Note that the Telsa S beats all the other EVs listed in the article above and in these posts in combined kw-hrs/100 miles range. Telsa does EVs much better right now...there's no denying that fact. Lets hope the others catch up n pass them soon.

  14. "Note that the Telsa S beats all the other EVs listed in the article above and in these posts in combined kw-hrs/100 miles range."

    "beats", you mean has the highest number (38). In terms of economy the lowest kwhrs/100mi is the best (30).

    Thanks for the link. These numbers are interesting because the Ford Focus EV is tied with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV for Highway at 34 while the Tesla Model S is tied with the LEAF at 37. The main difference between the Model S and the others is City driving.

  15. What makes the MPGe so low compared to something like the Honda Fit EV? Anybody??

  16. I expected similar rating to LEAF, Focus EV, Volt etc. Only thing I can think of is that the other cars are front wheel drive and this is rear wheel drive. Most braking, and therefore re-gen is done by the front wheels. It will be interesting to see if the Model X with optional 4WD will have better economy.

  17. Hello....??? Why would u think that a taller, heavier, lower coefficient of drag Telsa X(w/ the same battery pack as the S) w/ 4wd get better mpge? Are u insane? Unless there are significant improvements in the drivetrain, weight, or aerodynamics, the X will likely get at least 10% worse mpge then the S. Common sense tells us that.

  18. All of those cars you cited are low performing compact cars, while the Tesla is a full sized high performance luxury sedan. The real question is why its efficiency is only 10-20% less then those you cited. The reality is that it has outstanding efficiency for its size and performance.

  19. Hello....??? Size, weight, and power are the answers why the 85Kw battery pack S is a little less fuel efficient then the other current "budget" smaller EVs like the Fit EV. Did you not read above that the S has a 260KW motor which is far more than twice the power of the other EV motors? This thing hits 60mph in less then half the time of the other EVs even though its bigger and heavier. 89mpge is very good for this highest powered trim S model. Expect the lower trim S models to get better mpge with the 40kw battery pack Telsa S getting probably about the same as the other budget EVs currently on the market.

  20. The Model S is a full size luxury car that is equivalent to a BMW 5 series, with high acceleration, outstanding performance and a price to match.

    The real question is why the regular Honda Fit gets nearly 50% better gas mileage than a BMW 5 series (33mpg vs 23mpg) while the electric version of the Fit only gets ~20% more MPGE than the Tesla Model S.

    The answer of course is that the Tesla Model S is a marvel of engineering designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, while the Fit is just a gas powered car with an electric motor slapped into it.

    That also helps explain why the electric version of the Fit has a terrible range and costs twice as much as the gas version, while the Tesla is reasonably competitive with a BMW.

  21. The Fit may be an ICE conversion, but it's also the best EV in it's class with better range and efficiency than a car like the Leaf that was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

    And where do you get it costs twice as much than the gas version if it's a lease only compliance car (sadly)?

  22. @Chris: The retail price of the Honda Fit EV on which that lease price is based is $$36,625 (plus a mandatory $770 delivery fee). See here:

    The gasoline 2012 Honda Fit starts at $15,325 (plus delivery).

  23. Hi Tom,
    Obviously we are both proponents of EVs and especially this great new Telsa S on the road this weekend...finally. However, I suggest you perform a bit more research and calculations before making claims and logic leaps. Three examples below where more time was needed:

    1) Your 5 series vs Fit mpg numbers are wrong.
    Base 2012 BMW 5 series now gets 23/34 mpg while the Fit sport automatic gets 27/33. BMW's new four banger twin turbo is a marvel in high performance with damn good efficiency too considering that it outperforms their previous base motor inline 6. I think you were using the previous 5 series drivetrain specs. Fit will likely still get better overall mileage but certainly not by 50%...more like 15%.

  24. 2) Not all Telsa S trim models out w/ mpge numbers yet.
    Telsa S in 40kw n 60kw battery pack trims are sure to be more efficient than the 85kw battery pack used for the epa's calculation released today. As I predicted in a previous reply in this post, I think the 40kw trim will likely obtain a mpge rating near the other current budget mpge ratings.

  25. There are more comments in this thread
  26. Miles per dollar would have been a better rating system for all plug-ins or pure EV's...


  27. Yes, much more ideal. But since the price of electricity varies dramatically over different parts of the country, and also by time of day, how do you choose a rate that won't cause a lot of arguments? At least a gallon of gas is a constant.

  28. It seems the EPA didn't count the front trunk ("frunk"), which provides an additional 8 cubic feet of cargo space. I think no other EV has a "frunk". ;)
    ( http://www.teslamotors.com/models/specs )

  29. Really good point Norbet. I think EPA did forget the frunk.

  30. "With a 260-kilowatt (350-horsepower) motor powering the rear wheels, It's also likely to be faster"

    Yes. I suppose it is "likely" to be faster, a likelihood which depends solely on how much you depress the "gas" or brake pedals on the Model S.

    For instance a Nissan Leaf *MIGHT* be faster than a Model S if the Model S stops completely. But even that is doubtful considering how fast the Model S looks just sitting there...

  31. We have to remember that Tesla is not competing with the Honda Fit EV or the Nissan Leaf it is competing with gasoline powered sport sedans and has to have acceleration that is consistent with that market. Also the Tesla Model S is no lightweight either. It tips the scale over 4000lbs and has 19 inch all season high performance tires similar to what other high-end gasoline sport sedans have. I bet if you were to change the wheels alone to skinny 17 inch low rolling resistance tires on skinnier rims and select max regeneration braking to enhance its efficiency I am sure you could bump that MPGe number up quite a bit. Tesla Blue star sedan will more likely to achieve higher EPA MPGe since it will not have to compete with pricey sport sedans.

  32. I wasn't a big fan of the Roadster, but, I think the Model S is a very strong product. Upscale luxury, it's the Mercedes of EVs. Good range, lots of performance, it will sell. The key is how much profit is in there. If the margins are big, i'd expect the other luxury makers to come in fast, if the margins are thin, then the business struggles. I hope it works out.

  33. Elon is more concerned with building the company, and selling lots of EVs than making large profits from a niche product. The profit margin will be calculated to be just enough to grow the company.

  34. I'd say the profit margin is non-existent at this point and it will be years (if ever) before they make any actual money from this model. Selling tech and carbon offset credits will make them some cash and somewhat cover the losses in the meantime.

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