When Tesla Motors first launched its Model S electric sedan back in 2012, its long-range Model S 85 was given an official range rating by the U.S. EPA of 265 miles per charge of its 85 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, at a fuel economy equivalent of 89 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) on the combined cycle. Its most efficient model, the Model S 40, was rated as having a range of 139 miles per charge at a fuel economy of 94 MPGe.
While it was undeniably the longest-range electric car to ever go on sale, the sub 100-MPGe fuel economy ratings — a calculated figure based on 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity holding the same amount of energy as one gallon of gasoline — made the Tesla Model S far from the most energy efficient car on the road. (That crown currently stands with the BMW i3 electric car, whose lightweight carbon-fiber reinforced plastic bodyshell and lightweight lithium-ion battery pack means it can manage more than 124 MPGe on the combined EPA test cycle.)
The Tesla Model S 70D is the first Tesla to break the 100 MPGe barrier
But as our friends over at Electrek note, Tesla’s recently-announced Model S 70D has just become the first Tesla Model S variant to break through the 100 MPGe ceiling, managing a combined fuel economy of 101 MPGe on the EPA’s official testing cycle.
Announced earlier this spring, the Tesla Model S 70D replaces the Tesla Model S 60 as Tesla’s entry-level model, and features not one but two electric motors for all-wheel drive capability. In addition, it offers an additional 32 miles of range over the Model S 60, offering an EPA-approved 240 miles per charge.
While it doesn’t have the 3.2-second 0-62 time of the range-topping Tesla Model S P85D or the 270-mile EPA-approved range of the Tesla Model S 85D — both of which were added to the Tesla lineup in October last year — the Tesla Model S 70D beats the 93 MPGe and 100 MPGe ratings of its respective siblings.
Unlike an all-wheel drive vehicle with an internal combustion engine, which tend to be far more inefficient than two-wheel drive variants thanks to the mechanical losses incurred as power is fed through heavy transfer boxes and prop shafts on their way to the wheels, Tesla’s dual-wheel drive models are the most efficient cars Tesla has built.
That’s because each motor is responsible for driving two wheels each, halving the work required of each motor and allowing it to operate more efficiently than a single motor being asked to do twice the work.
While each motor is smaller than the motor in single-motor Model S variants, the additional efficiency of two motors more than makes up for the additional weight of the 70 D and 85D over the 60 and 85 models, resulting in a massive improvement in fuel economy.
For those interested in both fuel economy and all-electric range, the Tesla Model S 85D is the logical choice, offering 100 MPGe versus the 101 MPGe of the 70. But unless you really do need the super-fast acceleration and higher top speed of the P85D, we think one thing is pretty certain.
The Tesla Model S 70D and Tesla Model S 85D are the smartest choice for an everyday buyer wanting a Model S.
Do you agree? Are you a Model S owner looking forward to swapping your current car for a more efficient model? Do you think you’ll notice in the real world? Or are there more important reasons to trade in for a newer model?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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