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Tesla Model X 'Range Anxiety'

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【Summary】A Model X owner I spoke with said his lifetime power consumption on the vehicle over the course of a year is 420 watts/mile, which roughly translates to a real-world range of 170 miles on a full charge, about 30% less than what Tesla advertises.

Original Eric Walz    May 12, 2017 6:31 PM PT
Tesla Model X 'Range Anxiety'

Electric vehicle owner experience a feeling the people who drive gasoline powered vehicles often do not. Its called "range anxiety", where you're worried about reaching your destination or the next Tesla charging station before your battery runs out.

Unlike a gasoline powered car, electric vehicles have a certain range before their EV's battery needs recharging. However, charging an EV is not as simple as filling a gas can or your gas tank. Many Tesla Model X owners claim that their vehicles do not provide the range that Tesla advertises.

The EPA rates the Model X P90D (90 kWh battery) at 250 miles which translates to ~320 watts/mile of projected consumption. However, one Model X owner I spoke with said his lifetime consumption on the vehicle over the course of a year is 420 watts/mile, which roughly translates to a real-world range of 170 miles on a full charge, about 30% less than what Tesla advertises.

He added that "We've seen numbers as high as 550 watt/mile when mounting a bike rack and transporting bicycles due to additional drag." he wrote. In an electric vehicle, the higher the watts per hour means a faster drain on the vehicle's batteries. Many electric and hybrid vehicle owners learn to coax as many miles as possible by practicing energy saving driving habits the vehicle's onboard computer recommends.

The vehicle's dashboard on many EV's monitors a driver's individual driving style to encourage you to drive efficiently as possible. "As former owners of a hybrid Lexus CT200h I am familiar with gentle acceleration, coasting when possible, gentle braking, etc" he added.

"The only time we've ever achieved less than 350 watt/mile consumption on the Model X is when we have been driving only 40-50 mph", which is well below the flow of traffic on most highways.

He also shared details of a recent trip which originated in St Regis, Montana with the Model X. Starting with a full charge, the dashboard range showed 245 miles. However, driving on the relatively flat Montana freeway at 60-65 mph with climate control turned, well below the speed limit, and through small towns, driving between 20-40 mph, he arrived at his destination (170 miles away) with 10-20 miles of rated range remaining.

Supercharging is also longer than anticipated. Tesla's onboard trip planner will instruct you to charge for 20-25 minutes at one of Tesla's many Supercharging stations. However, it often takes 30-40 minutes at the supercharger waiting for the vehicle to indicate that it's safe to depart. "Even then, I'll usually wait another few minutes just to give a little extra cushion because I don't trust the calculation. I routinely anticipate 30% greater consumption than rated."

Driver's of Tesla's Model X performance models have said that driving over 75 mph is out of the question if you hope to achieve range of 160 miles or greater. People who live in areas of high elevation and hills such as in San Francisco will experience even less range. Whereas, those who live in a relatively flat part of the country we probably do better.

The additional acceleration of Tesla's performance models is not worth the price tag for many drivers. Model S owners have reported better range from their vehicles. "When we've driven loaner S vehicles from Tesla during service appointments we do not have this problem. On the Model S it is easy for me to obtain <300 watt/mile consumption without any effort."

In the end, most Tesla owners are happy enough with their vehicles to deal with lower than advertised range. The owner I spoke to is buying another Model X. "We love the car. We're very excited to get our new Model X 100 kWh D. We're hoping that the non-performance motors and additional 10kW  give us some breathing room on range anxiety."

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