2016 Tesla Model S
If 200-mile electric cars are the new black, then what does that make 300-mile electric cars?
With the launch of the Chevy Bolt EV less than a year away, and 400,000 reservations for Tesla Model 3 cars to be delivered sometime in 2018 or later, clearly 200 miles is the new benchmark for range below $40,000.
But it turns out the updated 2016 Tesla Model S 90D version is the first 300-mile mass-produced electric car.
With a big asterisk, that is.
The updated Model S electric luxury sedan unveiled this month, with new frontal styling and other aerodynamic tweaks, has one version—the 90D—that's rated at 294 miles of combined EPA range.
2016 Tesla Model S
But, as InsideEVs cleverly noticed, that combined EPA range rating is made up of two parts, just as fuel efficiency and MPGe ratings are as well.
And the highway range on the Model S 90D, with the largest available battery pack and all-wheel drive, is actually 303 miles.
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And that's the first time the EPA has rated any production electric car at more than 300 miles of range on any cycle.
Granted, real-world ranges may be lower due to speed, driving style, temperature, and a host of other factors.
Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery pack in rolling chassis [photo: Martin Gillet via Flickr]
But a 300-mile rating is nothing to sneeze at.
What's still unknown is the range rating the EPA would have given to the pre-update Model S with the larger 90-kilowatt-hour battery pack.
Tesla Motors didn't bother to recertify that model, but simply carried over the rating from the 85D, which is perfectly acceptable under EPA rules.
Fans of the electric-car maker will point out that the "3.0" battery upgrade for the Tesla Roadster takes it to a rated range of 330 miles or so.
That's true, but only 2,000 Roadsters can accept that upgrade, and it costs $30,000 per car—whereas the Model S 90D is available to be ordered new today.