Tesla will turn over the keys to the first 2012 Model S customer cars at the end of this week, and the Environmental Protection Agency released final fuel economy equivalent and total range numbers not a moment too soon.
The Model S had already been crash-tested and cleared for public sale, and we were waiting for confirmation from the EPA. And now we have it: top-spec Tesla Model Ss with an 85 kWh battery will get the equivalent of 89 miles per gallon. That may be 10 fewer miles per gallon equivalent than the 2012 Nissan Leaf, currently the country’s most popular battery electric vehicle, but the Model S does have a bigger interior and a lot more power: it hits 60 mph in between 4.4 and 6.5 seconds, depending on specification, compared to the Leaf’s 9.7 second sprint.
While Tesla has long said that it was shooting for its 85-kWh models to travel a full 300 miles on one charge, the final EPA-estimated range is 265 miles. As we previously reported, Tesla says this is the result of differing testing methods: Tesla’s range estimates are at 55 mph, while the EPA’s methodology combines city and highway driving and is much more rigorous.
With the 85-kWh model getting an estimated 265 miles of range, it’s still anyone’s guess as to what less-expensive models will do. The Model S’ initial 1000-car production run will all be 85-kWh Signature Series models, but later models will have available 40- or 60-kWh battery packs that will allow the Model S to go a Tesla-estimated 160 or 230 miles, respectively. Neither Tesla nor the EPA have released those numbers, but expect EPA testing to temper those estimates a bit.
Still, the Model S easily takes the crown of the electric-only car with the furthest range, dwarfing the Mitsubishi i and Nissan Leaf, with their respective ranges of 98 and 100 miles.
By Ben Timmins