Tesla Model 3 Long Range rating of 310 miles: Is it understated?

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2017 Tesla Model 3, in photo tweeted by Elon Musk on July 9, 2017

2017 Tesla Model 3, in photo tweeted by Elon Musk on July 9, 2017

Amidst all the coverage on Wednesday of the Tesla Model 3 production numbers, we realized we'd forgotten one piece of the Model 3 saga.

That would be the official EPA range and efficiency ratings for the 2017 Tesla Model 3 Long Range version.

Those were issued at the end of November, and they seemed worth highlighting as a way to compare the Model 3 both to competing electric cars and its larger, heavier, more powerful siblings.

DON'T MISS: Tesla delivers 1,550 Model 3s in Q4; Models S, X over 100,000 in 2017

The EPA says the Tesla Model 3 Long Range provides 310 miles of battery range, and rates its energy efficiency at 126 MPGe.

Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, is a measure of how far a car can travel electrically on the energy contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.

Tesla's far more expensive Model S 100D has a rated range of 335 miles, but an efficiency rating of 102 MPGe.

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

That makes it the highest-range battery-electric car on the market, and brings electric-car range within 10 percent of the longest-range zero-emission vehicle on the market, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell at 365 miles.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV, the longest-range mass-priced electric car now available nationwide for deliveries, comes in at 238 miles and 119 MPGe.

Regarding the Model 3's ratings, our Tesla-owning reader and contributor Shiva pointed us to an October article on Electrek, which analyzed the document submitted by Tesla to the EPA for certification of the Model 3 Long Range version.

That document showed that the long-range Model 3 actually achieved 334 miles of range on the dynamometer test—but Tesla lowered its range rating to 310 miles.

Suggested reasons for that decision include keeping a distinction between the priciest Model 3 and the Model S 100D, to avoid cannibalizing sales of the larger and perhaps more profitable car.

2017 Tesla Model 3 and Model S in Tesla assembly plant parking lot, Fremont, CA, November 2017

2017 Tesla Model 3 and Model S in Tesla assembly plant parking lot, Fremont, CA, November 2017

The document also notes that the Model 3 can charge at rates up to 210 kilowatts (525 amps at 400 volts), higher than today's 135-kw maximum charging rate for the Model S and Model X.

Once again, Tesla cites a lower charging rate and longer charging time for the Model 3—lending credence to the idea that the company is somewhat underselling the Model 3 to preserve Model S sales.

Tesla delivered a total of 1,810 Model 3s last year, a rate lower than its early deliveries of the Model S and Model X when they first came out.

CHECK OUT: Parts order for Tesla Model 3 cut by 40 percent starting in December: report

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has frequently referred to the lower-priced car being in "production hell," though the company said things were starting to look less dire during the last week of last year.

Last July, Musk had predicted that Tesla would be making 5,000 electric cars a week by December 31 of last year.

In the company's delivery report for the fourth quarter of the year, that goal was pushed to the end of the second quarter of this year.

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