In the UK, a Tesla Model S can be configured to show either “typical” or “rated” range. These are both range estimates derived from tests performed by Tesla as part of certifying the car for sale in each countrty. In Europe the test required to determine an official “rated” range is very optimistic and so yields a figure higher than most drivers would achieve in real-world use. Therefore Tesla have also provided a range measure based on a less optimistic estimation model, called “typical”.
This article only considers “typical” range and how well it reflects day to day experience.
In the UK the typical range of a fully charged (to 100%) Model S with an 85kWh battery is 245 miles, and for a 60kWh model it’s 190 miles.
Achieving Typical Range
The typical range figures shown by the car are completely achievable on a long journey if you drive at a moderate speed (no more than 70mph), without aggressive acceleration and braking, and in good weather conditions.
Exceeding Typical Range
If you are prepared to drive very carefully and gently, you can beat these figures by a considerable margin. Travelling 300 miles on a single charge in a Model S requires a lot of patience and care (and speeds that will feel very slow indeed on a motorway) but it is possible.
The current record for distance travelled in a Model S on a single charge is 425 miles; however this was at a constant speed of 18 mph so the journey took almost 24 hours to complete!
If you drive sensibly but without caring too much about efficiency then you should be able to achieve 225 miles in an 85kWh car, and 175 miles in a 60kWh car. Really bad weather might reduce this by another 10% or so.
How far can I go even if I don’t try to be efficient at all?
Even if you drive without any consideration for efficiency (as fast as conditions will safely allow in the UK*) you will still get around 200 miles of range in an 85kWh car and around 155 miles in a 60kWh car.
* if you visit a German Autobahn, all bets are off!
An important note about the Model S speedo
Since the Tesla Model S speedometer is GPS-based it is highly accurate, unlike most other cars that tend to overestimate by around 10%. So when your Model S says it’s doing 80mph this is probably equivalent to 85-90mph in a comparable ICE car.