Tesla has accomplished another electric-car first with its Model S.
“Starting today, all North American Model S Long Range Plus vehicles have an official EPA-rated range of 402 miles,” Tesla announced in a company post Monday afternoon.
The company says that the new 402-mile range applies back to when it started building “Long Range Plus” versions of the Model S earlier this year—in February.
In January, when the Model S was officially rated at 373 miles, Musk hinted that a 400-mile EPA rating for the big fastback might be close. After the release of the Long Range Plus version of the Model S in February, the model was updated to 391 miles.
Then things got a little strange. Musk claimed that the EPA botched the range test for the Model S—accidentally leaving the car door open and the keys in the car, he claimed, which caused the car to lose 2% of its range overnight. The EPA refuted that and claimed that the latest 391-mile result was accurate.
The EPA confirmed to Green Car Reports Tuesday that it had approved a 402-mile range for the updated Long Range Plus—but perhaps adding grist to the mill, it emphasized that this version was different than the one run that achieved the 391-mile range result.
"Tesla has updated the 2020 Model S Long Range Plus vehicle making several changes to the vehicle from the one EPA previously tested," said an EPA spokesperson, who asked not to be named. "EPA approved the new label value based on a review of the testing protocols and data submitted by Tesla and found it was complete and accurate."
Back to the car rather than the controversy: Tesla outlined what’s new on the Model S to achieve this range, and it doesn’t mean increasing this car’s carbon footprint with more battery capacity. The new range represents a 20% boost versus a 2019 Model S 100D, which had the same battery pack design.
2020 Tesla Model S
In part, it’s “a “significant mass reduction” through in-house seat manufacturing and lighter materials for the battery pack and drive units—among various lessons learned through the manufacturing of the Model 3 and Model Y. Also, the previous mechanical oil pump for the rear induction motor has been replaced with an electric oil pump that runs independent of vehicle speed, and “further improvements” have been made to the permanent magnet front motors (shared with those other models), adding 2% more range. A new aero wheel design alone adds boosts range by another 2%.
The Long Range Plus includes a new Hold mode for regenerative braking that will blend in physical brakes with regenerative braking to bring the car to a full stop without having to press the brake pedal.
That 402-mile Long Range Plus version is the most affordable Model S version. It currently costs $76,190, including the mandatory $1,200 destination fee.
2020 Tesla Model S
At this point, the only carmaker that looks close to beating Tesla’s EPA range record is the Lucid Air. Lucid CEO Rawlinson—who, perhaps not so coincidentally was the original Model S chief engineer—has claimed that the Air will be able to accomplish not just an EPA range of more than 400 miles but 400 miles at true highway speeds.
Congrats to @dmetcalf for being the first to drive a Tesla Model S over 400 miles on a single charge!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2012
Back in 2012, when the Model S was rated at 265 miles, a Florida owner claimed to have managed 423.5 miles in one, with some especially leisurely driving on rural roads, the tire pressure raised, and the climate control turned off.
Whether this means a true 400 highway miles yet or not, expect Tesla to keep nudging the range number—and its edge over other electric vehicles—farther ahead.
This story was updated later on the day of its original publication to reflect additional comment provided by the U.S. EPA.