Real-World Range Test Casts Shadow Over EPA's Tesla Ratings, Entire Procedure

Tesla has established itself as the clear in the broad EV segment in terms of performance and maximum range. According to the EPA rating, the Tesla Model S can travel for up to 402 miles (647 km) before draining its battery completely.
Tesla Model Y 5 photos
Photo: Tesla Motors
Tesla Model YTesla Model YTesla Model YTesla Model Y
That number makes it a clear winner, and if we were to look below it in this range-based chart, we'd find other Tesla models before any vehicles from other manufacturers. So, what is Tesla's secret? Is its technology really so far ahead of its competitors', or is there another explanation?

As it so often happens, it's a bit of both. Tesla literally has a head start of a few good years, but it'll find it difficult to maintain that distance as others race to catch up, and there are plenty of big companies who are doing just that. One of those companies is the Volkswagen Group, the entity that owns the Porsche brand and, among others, its Taycan EV.

However, a key part of staying ahead is to know the rules of the game and to figure out how to use them to your best advantage. When it comes to EPA range and efficiency rating, the rules are very clear for any manufacturer, and yet not all do all it takes to get the best possible result. Porsche definitely doesn't, whereas Tesla does.

As a result, Tesla can boast about its unparalleled range, while Porsche owners are forced to offer explanations and make excuses whenever the very limited range of their vehicle is brought up. Well, thanks to a real-world test carried out by Edmunds, they have just been offered the silver bullet to silence critics for good. If only things worked that way...

The publication used a Tesla Model Y Performance (EPA range of 291 miles or 468 km) and a Porsche Taycan 4S (EPA range of 203 miles or 327 km) to see what results some actual road testing would yield. The methodology may not be 100 percent consistent since you can't control the conditions as you would in a lab. On the other hand, that's what the real world is like, uncontrollable, which is what makes this kind of test so relevant.

According to the results, not only did the Taycan exceed its official rating, it did so by nearly 60 percent. Instead of 203 miles, it went for 323 miles (520 km) before going flat, which is absolutely astounding. The test had a very different outcome for the Tesla Model Y, though.

The crossover was supposed to cover 291 miles but failed to reach that target stopping after just 253 miles (407 km). In other words, it came to a halt after 87 percent of its official maximum range and 70 miles (112 km) shorter of a car it was supposed to beat by 88 miles (141 km).

Obviously, we need independent bodies to set benchmarks and enforce regulations otherwise, it's mayhem out there. But these benchmarks need to be uniformized for all manufacturers if the public is to get a clear representation of what it can expect from those products, and the EPA doesn't provide that at the moment.

Perhaps the result of this test doesn't really mirror the reality that well. Maybe the EPA figures are closer to the truth, but the fact is that no test should produce results that are so far away from the official figures. It's a problem the EPA should address if it wants to remain relevant, and the only way to do it is to eliminate any variation in the trials for one manufacturer or another.

Granted, the EPA offers equal chances to all EV makers, but it doesn't force uniformization. Currently, an EV can be subjected to just two test cycles, which will result in a poorer estimated range, or up to five, which will give it a better result. Tesla goes for the latter, while Porsche opted for the former. However, that's something you can't really know when looking at their EPA ratings, hence the discrepancies.

A standardized testing procedure for everyone would really benefit the buyers, but it looks as though there isn't enough pressure on the government institution to alter its methods and we doubt a test carried out by a media outlet will change that. But it's a start.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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