When the Model S emerged as Tesla’s first mass-produced car back in 2012, it had a still-respectable range of 265 miles. Now, the 2020 Tesla Model S Long Range Plus packs a range of 402 miles, according to official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings.
The California-based electric car maker introduced several updates throughout the Model S’ lifespan to improve its range, and this latest round finally pushed it past that barrier. Extracting more efficiency out of its drivetrain and the 100 kWh battery pack, Tesla says the breakthrough came from lessons learned building the Model 3 and Model Y, per an official blog post published June 15.
How the Tesla Model S manages over 400 miles
According to the company’s blog post, the latest Long Range Plus version of the Model S manages 20 percent longer range than the equivalent 2019 Model S 100D, with the same battery pack.
To achieve the gains needed to push past 400 miles, Tesla improved the efficiency of the rear drive unit by 2 percent. The mechanical oil pump has been replaced with an electric unit that “optimized lubrication independent of vehicle speed to reduce friction.” The gearbox within the front drive motor, shared with the Model 3 and Model Y, also contributed to the slight range gain. Beyond that, a new set of 8.5-inch wide aerodynamic wheels reduce drag, and are wrapped in new custom low rolling resistance tires. That change landed another 2 percent range improvement.
Another key in the Model S Long Range passing 400 miles was tweaking the regenerative braking system. It now works at a lower speed with a lower deceleration rate to send more energy to the battery pack than it could before.
Tesla recently discounted the Model S Long Range Plus by $5,000
In late May, the EV automaker did discount the Model S and Model X, so getting the longest-range model is now more affordable. As part of the announcement signifying the company’s achievement, Elon Musk noted all Tesla Model S Long Range cars built after late January 2020 have that 402 mile range.
Of course, if you’re willing to take a hit on range, you still can buy the ludicrously fast Performance model: