Range anxiety was the buzzword whenever you mentioned EVs ten years ago, and the idea of a long range EV that could match ICE vehicles didn’t seem very realistic. But then Tesla burst onto the scene with the Model S and it changed everything, and it’s actually still going strong, almost 10 years after its launch.
Recently, Car&Driver performed a range test in a variant of Model S that is no longer available, the Model S Long Range Plus. It has a 103.9 kWh battery pack (measured by the EPA, as there is no official capacity figure provided by Tesla) and its EPA range is 390 miles (627 km) on the combined cycle, but you can’t actually achieve it if you exclusively drive it on the highway, at highway speeds.
This is what Car&Driver did with the Long Range Plus Model S - they drove it at 75 mph constantly on 100-mile highway loop and they got a very impressive 320 miles (515 km) out of it at that speed (the source points out that a Model S 100D achieved 270 miles in the exact same test). And in reaching this result, it has about as much range as many internal combustion-engined vehicles (albeit not the longest range ones, like some diesels you can still buy in Europe).
Nowadays there are many EVs whose range is similar to an ICE vehicle’s, but where some EVs fall short is when you drive them at relatively high speeds constantly. If driven like this, they will fall short of the claimed range by quite a margin. And the Model S Long Range Plus tested by C&D also didn’t hit its 390-mile EPA claim, but its result is still remarkable for an EV driven constantly at speed.
Keep in mind that this Tesla’s battery pack still has 18650 lithium-ion cells and that upcoming models will be equipped with the newer and better performing 4680 cells. The Model S Plaid and Plaid+ are said to feature these improved battery cells, although they’re still at least a year away from mass production. But once they do debut, they should improve the Model S’ range further, extending its lead over all current competing electric sedans.