The problem with a 300 mile Tesla S
Tesla announced today that their Model S will be delivered to retail customers a month from today. Which means that the mainstream press will be all over the Tesla’s 300 mile range as their focal point (never mind that it only costs $97,900 for the Signature Performance trim). Though expensive, the 300 mile range is a good thing. Isn’t it?
Tesla’s base Model S has been listed at 3,825 pounds in the Tesla Enthusiast’s Forum and on Wikipedia, so we figure that is likely a fairly reliable number. We know that the base Model S has a 40 kilowatt hour battery. The LEAF battery pack is 24 kilowatt hours and weighs 660 pounds. This works out to roughly 25 pounds per kilowatt hour. The LEAF will take you 100 miles according to Nissan and the Model S will take you 160 miles according to Tesla. So with the 85 kilowatt hour battery pack in the Model S Signature Performance model, that would add roughly 1,075 pounds, bringing the total weight up to 4,900 pounds. As luck would have it, that is the weight listed by Car & Driver for the 300 mile range Model S. So what’s the problem? All that weight.
Studies have repeatedly shown that most drivers on most days travel less than 40 miles per day. But let’s give Tesla drivers an extra 10 miles a day. This means that they are carrying around 250 miles of excess battery capacity, assuming that they can plug in their car at night when they get home. Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t really see the logic in carrying around unneeded weight, compromising the efficiency of the car that we bought for its efficiency, and spending an extra $48,000 over the car that will take us four times the distance of the average American daily driving distance (the base Model S). $48,000 would likely cover the needed rental car mileage on those days when you really needed to go more than 160 miles. Meantime, all those that really want a 40 kilowatt hour Tesla Model S need to wait a year or more so Tesla can make as much money as possible on the premium versions. So, why did you need that 300 mile range? Oh yeah… bragging rights.