Report Claims That Tesla Knew About Poor Range Results and Gaslit Its Customers
Automotive

Report Claims That Tesla Knew About Poor Range Results and Gaslit Its Customers

Results of Edmunds’ long-term Teslas

As part of Edmunds’ long-term road test program, we’ve owned at least one example of every Tesla (except the Roadster) to date — a 2013 Model S, a 2016 Model X, a 2017 Model 3 and a 2020 Model Y. We even went through the trouble of ordering one of the difficult-to-secure $35,000 Model 3 Standard Range models during the short window they were available.

Our results with each of these long-term vehicles is mixed. For the Model S, the EPA claimed our P85 model would return 265 miles of range based on its consumption calculation of 38 kWh/100 miles. We didn’t have a comprehensive EV range stress test back then, and since this was the early days of us figuring out how to capture consumption information, not all of our data is usable. But we did drive the model S on an LA-NYC-LA cross-country road trip, and we know the data gleaned from this trip is accurate. We noted average consumption of 31.7 kWh/100 miles. We consider this particular Tesla’s range and economy targets achievable, though not on our EV range test loop.

The tide had changed by the time we purchased our next Tesla, a 2016 Model X Signature P90D. This vehicle also carried an EPA consumption figure of 38 kWh/100 miles (odd, since the Model X was more than 700 pounds heavier than the Model S) and an estimated range of 250 miles. We still weren’t running EVs until empty, but we did come close once, with 171.5 miles traveled and 7 miles remaining with the vehicle in its 100% max range mode enabled. Our average consumption over nearly 25,000 miles stood at 55.3 kWh/100 miles, and a best “fill” of 40.9 kWh/100 miles. No matter the traffic conditions or how we drove, we never got close to the Model X’s EPA ratings.

The next Tesla addition to our fleet was a 2017 Model 3 Long Range — the only variant available for the Model 3’s first model year. According to the EPA, we should have expected consumption of 27 kWh/100 miles and a maximum range of 310 miles. And while our overall average consumption of 31.2 kWh/100 miles and maximum observed range of 261 are worse than estimates, a few results paint a more complete story. We observed multiple individual battery “fills” with consumption under 27 kWh, with the most efficient drive at a miserly 21.7 kWh/100 miles. This shows that with a judicious right foot, the Model 3 might be able to hit its EPA target (as with the Model S, this has never been the case on our EV range test loop).

We took possession of our final new Tesla, the Model Y Performance, in spring 2020, and it’s still in our fleet today. Consumption for our sporty SUV was listed at 30 kWh/100 miles, with a maximum range of 291 miles. We’ve broken the consumption barrier a few times, with 24.1 kWh/100 miles as our best result. Our farthest distance traveled in typical traffic was 242.8 miles, with 10 miles remaining, according to the onboard computer. Oddly, this particular fill was in Max mode, and consumption was below the EPA’s estimate at 28.4 kWh/100 miles. So with 252.8 theoretical miles on the trip and lower than average consumption, we still wouldn’t have gotten close to the EPA’s 291-mile range by the time we entered the Tesla’s shadowy post-zero range.