Tesla’s 2021 Model 3 Long Range topped Edmund’s EV range leaderboard; however, Tesla models consistently underperformed relative to their EPA figures.
The 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range All-Wheel Drive ultimately had the most range of any other electric vehicle tested using Edmunds’ methodology with 345 miles of total range.
While this figure beat the runner-up 2020 Porsche Taycan by 22 miles, it’s also 8 miles behind Tesla’s own EPA-rated rating of 353 miles. In comparison, the Porsche Taycan bested its advertised EPA range of 203 miles by 120 miles with Edmunds’ real-world range of 323 miles.
This is not necessarily a fault of Tesla, which already asks the EPA to under-report its rating to give buyers a more realistic outlook, but rather a flaw of the EPA’s lab-based methodology.
The EPA uses a dynamometer (think of it as a treadmill for cars) to simulate a 55%/45% mix of highway/city driving. Achieved range is then multiplied by a correction factor between 0 and 1 based on the number of drive cycles used in the test.
By contrast, Edmunds drove a wide variety of electric vehicles that are currently in production on a 60%/40% mix of city and highway roads. Real-world miles traveled and an indicated remaining range are then added together for a total tested range figure.
Note: this became problematic for Tesla, whose figures were actually higher once they noted that Tesla vehicles regularly underreport remaining range estimates by as much as 25.9 miles, and include a buffer of roughly five miles once the battery is fully depleted. Edmunds re-tested to make up for this discrepancy.
Once the buffer was added, 2020 Model 3 Long Range All-Wheel Drive and 2020 Model S Performance met or exceeded their EPA rating. However, the 2020 Model 3 Standard Range Plus and Performance models along with Model Y Performance still fell short of their rated range. Meanwhile the 2020 Model X Long Range got a resounding “maybe.”
Edmunds utilized the most efficient drive modes in its testing that didn’t affect safety or practical comfort. Climate control was set to automatic at 72 degrees, and regenerative braking is maximized while maintaining posted speed limits.
Keep in mind neither number will be entirely accurate to the end-consumer. Electric vehicle range is dependent on a large number of factors, including driving style and climate. They do however provide an idea of what to expect, and shouldn’t be discounted as most drivers should find that they reach rated range within a certain +/- margin.
Edmunds ends the article with the following disclaimer:
“To date, every Tesla vehicle we’ve run on our real-world test route has failed to hit its EPA range estimate within the testing parameters described above, whereas most non-Tesla vehicles have surpassed their EPA estimates.”
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