Electric carmaker Tesla announced on Wednesday (Australian time) that it has worked out how to extend the range of its Model S and X electric vehicles well over 500km on a single charge – without using a larger battery.
The new upgraded range may not require an upgraded battery, although as of next year Tesla says it will also begin making a new battery designed to last 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometres) – which would equate to 80 years of driving for a person who averages 20,000km a year.
In addition to various announcement during its Autonomy Day on Tuesday morning (Australian time), which included details about Tesla’s proprietary AI chip (that will be installed in all new Teslas from now on making them ready for full self-driving), Tesla also shared plans to introduce “robo-taxis” as soon as next year.
Musk last week said that the Model 3 is being built to last 1 million miles to make the robo-taxi plan economically viable, but at the time he admitted that the battery would not last that long and would need to be replaced.
But now he has confirmed that Tesla is working on a new battery pack that it will start making next year.
“The new battery pack that is probably going to production next year is designed explicitly for 1 million miles of operation,” Musk said at the Autonomy Day event at Palo Alto.
But even before the new long-mileage battery comes into production, people buying new Model S and Xs will be able to benefit from a longer range, thanks to a new, more efficient drivetrain.
New drivetrain means more miles
As of now, Tesla will begin installing the new drivetrain design in both its premium electric vehicles that will allow the Long Range Model S to drive an unprecedented 370 miles (595km) on a single charge, according to the US government’s EPA rating.
New Long Range Model X vehicles will be able to drive 325 miles (523km) – the smaller range due to the Model X being slightly heavier than the Model S.
While the Model S and X are already Tesla’s longest range production vehicles on the road, the improved efficiencies mean that using the same 100kWh battery pack, they will be even harder to beat for long-range ability.
“Today, we’re making changes to Model S and Model X that allow them to travel unprecedented distances without needing to recharge, beating our own record for the longest-range production EVs on the road,” the company wrote in its blog.
And don’t just take Tesla’s word for it – Motor Trend just proved that the Model S can drive from Fremont in California’s Bay Area to Los Angeles – 365 miles, or 587 kilometres.
NEDC vs EPA ratings
It must be noted that while The Driven previously reported on the new range capabilities when Tesla slashed its pricing for the Model S and X in March 2019, ranges were based on the (less accurate) NEDC rating as per listed on the Tesla Australia website.
Updated ranges as shown on Tesla’s US website uses the US government’s EPA rating for range is widely regarded as being more accurate.
The Performance Model S range will also now be longer, coming in at 345 miles (555km), and the Standard Model S will have 285 miles (458km) of range, whereas the Performance Model X will have a range of 305 miles (490km).
Not only that, Tesla has reintroduced the Standard Range Model X which will now have 250 miles (402km) of range.
Charging and suspension upgrades
In addition to the more efficient drivetrains, both the Model S and X will also be able to benefit from ultra fast 200kW charging using the new V3 Superchargers (which began rolling out across the US last month and can top speeds of 250kW).
Using V2 Superchargers, the new version S and X will charge at a rate of 145kW.
Tesla says it has also upgraded the suspension for both vehicles, which using predictive software will adjust suspension according to road conditions and driver behaviour – these upgrades will also be available to existing customers thanks to Tesla’s over-the-air software updates.
Correction: This article has been corrected to state that Motor Trend drove from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and clarified that Tesla’s statement regarding longest range vehicles.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.