Tesla Model S Long Range Plus Beats Rivian to EPA-Rated 400-Mile Range Barrier
Tesla’s Model S electric sedan went on sale for the first time in 2012, offering a range of 265 miles per charge. In the meantime, the elegant four-door EV has added battery capacity as well as many miles to its EPA rated driving range values. Now, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the Model S Long Range Plus variant has chosen an official driving range of 402 miles, assessed by the EPA. Musk says this is a first among production electric vehicles – a key victory given the looming Rivian R1S SUV and all-electric R1T pickup, which should have a maximum range of 400 miles but will not has not yet received public EPA certification.
What is going on in the EV driving field wars now that Tesla has seemingly beaten all comers to the magic 400 mile bar? Well, the debate is gaining value: the 402-mile Tesla Model S Long Range Plus starts at $ 74,990 before applying the applicable discounts. Tesla doesn’t mention any price changes for the Model S, even with the new range, except to remind everyone that the price of the Long Range Plus model recently dropped by $ 5,000 – a decision that is certainly not related to Rivians to come.
In addition to off-road capabilities and new four-motor drive systems, the Rivians have made waves largely due to their promised 400-mile ranges and claimed prices (apparently for these 400-mile models) of around $ 70,000. That’s impressive considering how the R1S and R1T will have 185 kWh batteries almost twice as large as the Model S Long Range Plus 100 kWh pack. As they say, mo ’battery, mo’ money.
How Tesla managed to reach 402 miles of range (again, according to the EPA; your actual mileage may vary) from a much smaller battery is a story of tiny non-sexy improvements mixed with the undoubtedly more aerodynamic shape of the Model S. The Rivians boxy, but not exactly bricks, have a more frontal surface than the lowered and windswept Tesla. The Rivians are also larger, come with more material to add weight, such as electric motors to each wheel, and are designed to deliver robust all-terrain performance (read: they’re probably heavy). Also as they say: Mo batteries, mo weight. This also creates a situation with diminishing returns: add batteries and therefore weight, and you need more batteries to gain more and more autonomy with your additional batteries.
In a blog post on its website, Tesla explains that the Model S Long Range Plus got a boost from its previous mark of 373 miles thanks to a reduction in mass throughout the vehicle, inspired by the teachings of new sedan projects Model 3 sedan and Model Y. (For fun, we have proven that it was possible even for this model earlier than 400 miles to travel 400 miles on a single charge.) Some weight was reduced in passing to a modular seat design shared with other Tesla models, while others have come out of the battery and drive units. A new “aero” wheel design and new tire configuration would improve range by only 2%, while switching to an electric oil pump from a mechanical part for the rear drive unit and gearbox optimizations shared with the 3 and Y models are responsible. for an additional 2 percent improvement in range.
It has taken eight years and introductions of two newer, smaller and cheaper models are arriving here, but Tesla can claim to be the first to reach a production electric vehicle over 400 miles away. Now let’s see how Rivian and the others react.
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