400 miles on one charge... done!

400 miles on one charge... done!

Dave Metcalf and his son drove for roughly 16 hours today in Florida, trying to travel 400 miles on a single charge in their Model S. I believe they drove at a steady 25 mph to get maximum range.

A few minutes ago, they crossed the 400-mile mark, successfully setting a new record. From the photos Dave posted, it seems his Model S still had 18 miles left in it at that time. :-)

dtich | 8 December 2012

um. wow.

photos please.

Carl Barlev | 8 December 2012


Hopefully this should help to get the point across to anybody who still worries about range anxiety... it's a non-issue!

If you're worried about whether or not you will make a certain distance with a given level of charge, then leave early, drive 10% slower for an extra 10% in range and peace of mind.

Driving speed has a MUCH bigger effect on range when compared to ICE vehicles... probably why it's taking a while for this point to sink in for some people.

If you're already on the road and it looks like you may have a range issue, then you have two options:
a) Drive slower and arrive a little later.
b) Risk running out of juice and arrive very much later.

But at least you have the choice!

Good job Dave and son :)

Carl Barlev | 8 December 2012

That's spot on the graph too.

Graph says 450 miles at 25 mph, but that's on flat ground with constant speed, no wind, no heating or A/C...

Klaus | 8 December 2012

Final tweet showed 423.5 miles.

hwye81k | 8 December 2012

Two lane country roads Dave?

toto_48313 | 8 December 2012

Great job!!! what was the average speed? seems to be little bit over 25 mph.

GLO | 8 December 2012

OK, now that is awesone! How great. Did you have a backup team?

NigelM | 8 December 2012

I believe there was no back up team, just a precautionary tow standing by as they got close to destination. There was some rain and wind which affected them so it's possible they would have gone even a little further. Full story via Twitter and summarized with pics on TMC.

Last we heard Dave was receiving a congratulatory phone call from George B. Cool!

dbourne | 8 December 2012

Wasn't Elon saying something at one point about a special recognition for the first persons to exceed 400 miles on a single charge?

portia | 8 December 2012

wow, it is done, congrats, takes a ton of control to drive that slow! | 8 December 2012

I do not believe it would be possible for me to drive 400 miles at 25mph--- not with all that power available for higher speeds. Congratulations!

Timo | 8 December 2012

Because there are apparently gazillion Dave or David Metcalfs in Twitter this is I believe the right one:

Saves you trouble of searching.

Oaktowner | 8 December 2012

I've read on this board a couple of times that a Tesla's range is more affected by speed than an ICE. But it makes me wonder: does anyone have any data (or even a good theory) to back that up?

The Tesla uses more energy at speed because of wind resistance, which goes up as a square of the velocity (F = 1/2 * p * v2 * Cd * A) - however, that equation is the same regardless of the type of engine in the car, right?

Seems to me that the Tesla shouldn't suffer any more than any ICE car. It is probably true that people worry about it more with an EV because A) the overall range is lower, and B) "filling stations" are few and far between.

Oaktowner | 8 December 2012

(Of course, my tag didn't work -- that was supposed to be a v-squared)

Timo | 8 December 2012

Same thing in TMC:

He did that with 21" tires and numbers from "Go Electric" page shows that you should be able to get 6-8% more range with 19" tires (maybe even more than that because air drag plays much smaller role in that speed), so 450 mile trip should be possible, maybe even 500 miles if you use absolutely everything and get benefit of perfect conditions.

(his numbers say 423.5 +8% is 457.38, and he used 80.3kWh and car was still going, so there was some reserve)

Volker.Berlin | 9 December 2012

Oaktowner, the reason is that the ICE is so inefficient in the first place. At lower speeds, the engine's inefficiencies far outweigh any effects from aero drag or rolling resistance. When the engine runs at its sweet spot in terms of RPM and load (most cars are designed to arrive at their engine's sweet spot at around 55 mph) it is so much more efficient than running at slower speeds, that the internal efficiency gain outweighs the additional aero drag and rolling resistance. It is only at even higher speeds that aero drag builds up very quickly and starts dominating all other factors.

Since the electric motor does not have any significant inefficiencies inherent with RPM or load (for a very wide range of those parameters -- there are some upper limits, of course), the external factors like rolling resistance and aero drag dominate from the start. In other words, only with an electric motor can you leverage the efficiency gains that are inherent with very low speeds. The ICE is so inefficient to begin with, and it's deliberately designed to be particularly inefficient at low speeds as a compromise to allow acceptable mileage at medium to high speeds, that it wouldn't let you tap into those energy savings that lower speeds offer.

pilotSteve | 9 December 2012

+1 Volker.Berlin. Nicely explained. EVs have entirely different operating considerations than ICE that we are just beginning to 'internalize' into what our new normal is for driving.

sdietznoemailonfile | 9 December 2012

Not so easy at speed or with mountains...

sdietz11 | DECEMBER 8, 2012
I thought it would be nice to share delivery and first week driving experience / learnings.

I am currently driving home to LA from factory delivery! Writing from the Tejon Ranch charging station.

Loved the tour and the car is great. They were out of 21" wheels so I have 19" until they get 21's in stock. Only other punch list item, like many, is the rear carbon spoiler.

What have I learned in my first 200 miles of highway driving? I left Fremont with a full charge and drove from to the Harris Ranch supercharging station via 198 (GREAT ROAD!) Arrived Harris Ranch with 17 miles range remaining and the realization that I use juice faster than the computer models it. Charged with 160 miles range for the 118 mile drive to Tejon Ranch and thought "No Problem"

Arrived Tejon with 0 miles and car flashing message to "Charge Immediately" The charging station has no sign, was hard to find and the Nav system lost it about 500 yards away. Power was so low that we parked and my son and I separated and walked around to find the station. When I shut the car off, it warned that it "may not restart" We found the charging station and the car did make the final 300 yard ride to juice. I'm planning to sit here for 40 minutes to get at least 200 miles of range for the 100 mile drive home over Tejon Pass. I do not need that stress again.

Car is comfortable, fast and fun. Replacing a Cayenne Turbo and it corners better and accelerates faster (sub 100mph anyways). Lack of engine weight in front means it understeers lightly through fast corners. Feels very stable.

At >80mph, range is reduced pretty significantly. More than a gas vehicle I think. It would be nice if the range estimate accommodated my actual driving behaviors a little better... or I could slow down. Actually, I started drafting a semi ablout 30 miles from Tejon Ranch when I relaized it was going to be really tight.

The charging stations only have one active space so do not plan a caravan with another Tesla.

I'm looking forward to driving in LA but have to say that this is not really a roadtrip car, even with the superchargers.

If I were advising a friend, I would say
1. There is a reason for the Gilroy supercharging station - use it
2. Start each segment with 50% more range than you need - expect to spend 1.5 hours charging on drive from LA to SF
3. Speed impact range more than in a gas vehicle.

Enjoy the acceleration. It's a blast

Carl Barlev | 9 December 2012

+1 Volker.

Just what I was trying to say, but more concise.

@ Oaktowner

I would say this is more than just a theory... it is quite soundly founded in the various laws of thermodynamics, aerodynamics and motion.

And there's plenty of supporting data too. Just compare the Model S Speed Efficiency Graph to similar graphs for ICE vehicles (see "Wiki/Fuel_economy_in_automobiles" for example).

A short answer (still think VB's is better) - it isn't a question of how much energy the cars use to move forward, but rather of how efficiently the engine/power-train converts stored energy into mechanical. ICEs do this very inefficiently at low RPM, while EV power-trains achieve high conversion efficiency over a wide range of RPM.

Brian H | 9 December 2012

Even shorter: EVs have mo' go when slow.

sergiyz | 9 December 2012

How is it even possible to drive 25mph for 400 miles anywhere and not get shot by an angry mob ? ;)
I think this on its own deserves a Guinness record.

Oaktowner | 10 December 2012

VB & Carl Barlev -

Both great explanations. Thanks!

Brian H | 10 December 2012

Cruise Control and a 17" screen!

Vawlkus | 10 December 2012

I keep thinking that this is social engineering by Elon.

Think about it: the majority of people that drive do so at high(er) speed (relatively speaking). The Model S rewards slower driving with more range, and punishes higher speed driving with reduced range.

Carrot and stick motivations?

Brian H | 10 December 2012

Elon's a bright and influential guy, but I don't think even he is up to manipulating the laws of physics! Exploiting and exploring is about as far as he can go.

Timo | 10 December 2012

Brian H, using, not manipulating. There is no manipulating laws of physics in that social engineering job, but using them absolutely. | 10 December 2012

What pleases me (as a soon 2b performance owner)is there is no mileage cost associated with having the performance available. ICE performance cars penalize you with premium gas and lower gas mileage. No surcharge on my daily commute with the S. Power and performance when I choose...Still don't think I could do 400 miles at 25 mph, that sounds like work.

Kevin Glassman | 10 December 2012

Hats off to Dave and his son on a remarkable trip!
As many others have stated so far, driving at 25 mph for 400 miles is painful for most of us on this forum, but the greater issue is the "advertised" range by Tesla motor throughout the ramp up campaign, and still currently on the vehicle web site.
For the new owner or the reservation holder, the issue is that if you bought a Model S with an 85KW battery, and ponied up for that cost, you'd think that by reading the site, asking questions of the staff in local storefronts, and even those in the plant, that the car will go 300 miles on a single Maximum charge at 55 mph, or average driving speeds.
In reality, it seems that 27 mph is the sweet spot, which is way off the advertised mark. For those of us that bought into the idea of getting on board to use this car for real life purposes, and not have to factor in recharging times to make a 200+ mile trip with ease with the 85KW battery pack, spend an extra 20K to get that additional power, and find that your distance is way short of the "advertised" range with very conservative driving is disappointing at best. I love driving this car, have 1700 miles logged in, and find the acceleration and performance terrific. But the loss of range with even moderate driving speeds is problematic for anyone thinking of taking this car on even a short road trip until rapid charging stations are way more plentiful and accessible. Finding a charging station that has a J-1772 plug, which is much more realistic at this point via ChargePoint, will get you only 26 mile per hour recharge. Not a great solution at this point.
I wish these numbers had been more forthcoming before I accepted delivery. I would have paused, despite the performance thrills, saving the environment, etc. Driving at 27 mph is not practical on most roads today.

ylyubarsky | 10 December 2012

It will be very helpful if somebody could try to calculate the same on a 32 - 35 mph speed. That sounds like an average city/hwy usage. I drive about 15 minutes to a hwy - it's about 4 miles then 16 miles on a hwy, average 60-65 mph and another 15 minutes to my office - another 4 miles. It took about 45 minutes and 24 miles. Average 32 mph. I wonder if anybody can give an estimate on this kind of a route. Thanks.

Brian H | 10 December 2012

25mph is for 400 miles. Did TMC ever advertise that? Strawman argument.

"400 miles at 25mph! Or ½ that far at 3X the speed." Would that have confused you?

mrspaghetti | 10 December 2012


The car does go 300 miles @ 55mph under ideal conditions. I don't understand your complaint.

Why would they bother telling people how far it can go @ 27 mph when no one drives that speed? I mean, not many drive 55 either, but it seems like a reasonable number to use as a benchmark. it should be obvious that your range will vary according to environmental conditions and your driving habits, just as with any other car.

Brian H | 10 December 2012

To be fair to T&K, it seems that the "variance" is a bit more than they counted on. If you're "on the bubble", that can be a problem. Perhaps skill and self-restraint will gradually resolve the issue.

Schlermie | 10 December 2012

So what did he win?

tezco | 10 December 2012

I'm curious how owners that travel long distances between charges feel the current projected range algorithm in the Tesla successfully predicts their true range at the very beginning of a trip?

Like most new owners, I've been driving around showing the car to friends and relatives, and you know that means I'm a little heavy on the pedal. The projected range is definitely less than routine, but I expect that as the driving becomes more regular, the discrepancy will shrink.

I've had a Leaf for a year, and the projected range that Nissan calculates is way too optimistic, despite a very consistent driving pattern and route to work. It also varies considerably during the drive when going up and down over relatively small hills, making it almost impossible to predict your true range at the beginning of a trip. How is Tesla doing?

Volker.Berlin | 11 December 2012

It will be very helpful if somebody could try to calculate the same on a 32 - 35 mph speed. That sounds like an average city/hwy usage. (ylyubarsky)

Tesla put up a small (beautiful) web app which you can use to calculate your (estimated) range under various conditions (including heating/AC and windows up or down):

The speed dial in that web app it limited to 45-65 mph for highway driving. In city driving mode, there is no speed dial available but they probably make similar assumptions as to what the average speed is, like you do. On the other hand, city driving requires much more deceleration/acceleration which also eats into the range (given the S's substantial weight).

Scroll down a little more on the same page, beyond the range app, and you find a supplementary chart that shows how range relates to speeds that are not available on the app's speed dial.

redsnapper | 11 December 2012

I don't see anything about elevation changes on the range app. If you start and end any given segment of a road trip at the same elevation, all else being equal, then any intermediate elevation changes cancel out (basic physics – gravity is a "conservative" field) - the only exception being that if you have a really high point in the middle of the leg, you'd better make sure you don't run out of battery at the high point! - but if that's not the issue, you'll get back all the extra energy you lost going uphill when you come back downhill, and it cancels out.

BUT if you know, in advance, that a particular destination where you're going to need a recharge, is at a different elevation than where you are now, you have to take than into account. You can't blame this basic fact of physics on Tesla, though I don't think they emphasize it adequately. To quantify this for you, when I drive my Roadster uphill from Mesa, AZ, to my summer cabin in Forest Lakes, AZ, the 3000 lb Roadster (2700 lb curb weight + 300 lb passengers & luggage) consumes roughly an extra 1 kWh for each 1000 ft increase in elevation. I have to climb 6000 ft, so I lose roughly 6 kWh of charge simply due to the climb. If I'm averaging 4 mi/kWh, that means I give up 24 miles of range going uphill. So if I have to go 120 miles, that means I have to add 24 miles of range to my initial charge, and if the meter doesn't say at least 144 miles, I can be sure I won't make it! On the other hand, coming home, I can start with only 96 miles of range showing, and make the 120mi trip just fine. (Of course, I don't really cut it this fine, but the point is, you have to take the elevation into account on long road trips where you have limited charging options.) As a side note, this means I can do the 240 mile round trip on exactly 1 full charge, but when I get to the cabin, it looks like I've used 65% of the battery, and the trip home looks impossible – but it's actually not.

The Model S will be "worse," in this sense, because the GVW is considerably higher (for example, at 4647 lb curb weight + 300 lb of passengers/luggage, you're talking a full 66% higher!). In other words, for the Model S, if you had a 3000 ft climb from LA to Tejon Pass, you'd need to factor in an extra 3x1.66 kWh or an extra 5 kWh of energy required for the uphill climb. How many miles does that extra 5 kWh represent? If the Model S is rated at 300 miles (85 kWh battery) at 55 mph, that comes out to 3.4 mi/kWh; but at 70 mph, that V-squared aerodynamic loss takes you down to just 2.2 mi/kWh, and at 75 mph, down to 1.9 mi/kWh! So, somewhat counter intuitively, the faster you would have been driving, the less range loss that extra 5 kWh represents: 9 miles at 75 mph, 11 miles at 70 mph, or 16.5 miles at 55 mph. But remember, if you're going to drive 75 mph, your 100% battery charge of an 85 kWh battery is only going to take you 161 miles – not 300! Consider now the possible trip N from LA. Depending on exactly where you start, it might be 100 miles to the top of Tejon Pass. That's 53 kWh of charge required, plus that extra 5 kWh for the climb. So you've got to have 58 kWh of charge simply to get to the top of the pass (or 68% of a full-range charge). Yet, interestingly, if you did get all the way to the top of the pass, it's only another 19 miles downhill to the Tejon Ranch Supercharger, and because you'll actually gain back 4000 ft of elevation (looks like Tejon Ranch is about 1000 ft lower than LA), you'll actually gain back 6.6 kWh on the downhill side. That's actually 13 miles of range at 75 mph, so if you had even just 6 miles of nominal range left at the top of the pass, you'd make it all the way to the Supercharger 19 miles away. (And if you slowed down to 55 mph, you could actually "loaf" the entire distance and gain 23 miles of range from the elevation drop, and your net range would actually be 4 miles larger by the time you got to the Supercharger than it was at the top of the pass!

But the point is, as others have mentioned, one of the mind-set issues with EV's is that because they're so much more efficient than ICE's, you really do notice that speed vs. range tradeoff (over a very wide range of speed). Everybody knows your mileage goes down as you drive faster, but in an EV, where charging options are limited (and time-expensive), you really have to be aware of it – at least, until we get "nominal" ranges of 1000 miles. (And of course, even then there will still be bozos who run out of energy for lack of planning.) For me, 300 miles of range (or 240 for my Roadster) is plenty, until I start planning road trips. Then I really have to plan. I think of it more as a "pilot" mentality than a "driver" mentality. But as we get more accustomed to EV's, we'll all start to think more carefully.

Brian H | 11 December 2012

Very good, except of course you don't recover 100% of the climbing energy through regen, as the S is only able to get 60kW max, and there are some inefficiency costs. Going uphill and then back down isn't a zero-energy wash, IOW.

Timo | 11 December 2012

...unless you don't go to regen. Remember that at 60mph car uses 20kW just to maintain speed, so you can decelerate at 20kW worth before you even go to regen. That's not insignificant deceleration. 80kW power to get full regen is quite steep hill.

This is the one case in RL physics where it should be zero energy wash, unless car has more inefficiencies when load is small/high compared to flat plane driving.

Dmetcalf | 11 December 2012

Thanks all. It was a bit tedious to drive so slow for so long, but one of my other hobbies is running ultramarathons so it was not too bad and was through very pretty wildlife preserves and mostly slow, flat rural roads. Most drivers were cheering us on with the goal painted on the rear window. Even though I live in FL, I don't usually drive that slow. Real world, my 104 mi commute is flat and fast with prevailing traffic at 75-80+ for 80 pct of the trip from the coast to Orlando and back. Even if I "misbehave" a little, I am still spending 5x less than gas based on low FL electric rates (8.4-10.4 cents) vs my other 25mpg car.

JB Straubel called yesterday and asked if we could write a Tesla blog post together this week, so I'm working on that for later in the week with some more details. More to come and thanks for the support. Adam and I had fun.

kalikgod | 11 December 2012


UCF alum here. Congrats on the record drive. Could you include a Google Map of the route in the blog post?

I think people not from Florida will appreciate how far that trip was once they see it mapped.

redsnapper | 12 December 2012

Here are some specific numbers to consider, on how much gravitational potential energy is released going downhill at the indicated speeds and grades:

5000 lb GVW, 10.79% grade, 75 mph: 80 kW of regen
5000 lb GVW, 8.07% grade, 75 mph: 60 kW of regen
5000 lb GVW, 8.07% grade, 60 mph: 48 kW of regen

Those are pretty darned steep grades, and if as Timo says it takes 20 kW simply to maintain speed at 60 mph, even that last example says you'd only be putting 28 kW back into the battery, as 20 kW of that 48 is maintaining your speed. Here's another interesting physics problem for you: given a certain regen rate, what's your terminal velocity as a function of grade? I.e., without your foot on the brake OR the accelerator, how fast do you go downhill on a given grade? Or to put it even another way, given a certain regen rate, what's the steepest grade you can coast down without exceeding a given speed limit?

Dmetcalf | 12 December 2012

I posted a pdf of the entire route as a Googlemap toward the end of the TMC Forum topic the MODS started:

Timo | 13 December 2012

20kW at 60mph is close to RL power usage based on posted energy usages:

20000W/60miles/h = 333Wh/mile.

Solarwind | 14 January 2015

Does this mean that the absolute best speed to extend range is 25 mph? In the Volt I though I gained no more distance below 30mph. In the P85D when I saw I wasn't going to make it I slowed to 48 and turned off heaters and make it. On the other side In a 3/4 mile test run today I saw 130mph not sure if the car or driver quite first but around 130 the car seemed to reduce acceleration rate, felt a couple surges.

sakhat | 14 January 2015

There was an efficiency chart somewhere. In order to get the maximum range you have to drive at around 25mph - 30mph (give or take).

Boukman | 14 January 2015

Proves the MS is the perfect car for taxis in

SamO | 15 January 2015


Theresa | 15 January 2015

Just realize the graph Samo posted is only for driving with no other items drawing power such as heat/air conditioning and lights. Once those constants are applied the best speed to drive goes up some. Of course total range goes down then too.

Solarwind | 15 January 2015

Thanks Sam. Looks like 22mph. however the gains below 30 May not be worth the pain. Looks like they didn't test at 130mph. I assume the MD is same curve.

SamO | 15 January 2015

Here's an updated distance/speed chart which includes all Models: