Model S

Few debates are more heated and passionate than the ongoing discussion between Star Wars and Star Trek fans about which franchise is superior. Star Wars took the world by storm in 1977 when A New Hope was released, with the franchise going on to capture 7 Academy awards to date. Yet Star Trek, which first debuted in 1966, also has much to boast about, having won 31 Emmy awards and one Oscar. Despite their differences, both look forward (or back) to a time when mankind explores the realms of galaxies far, far away. Mankind is no longer bound by space or time. One franchise sums up the premise of both series well with the timeless phrase, “boldly go where no man has gone before.” We may not be at Star Trek or Star Wars levels yet, but in Italy, a Tesla Owners Italia club decided to push their Model S to the limit, boldly going where no man–or electric car–has gone before.

The New Record Setters

On Friday, the Tesla Owners Italia club tweeted that they successfully drove a Tesla Model S 100D 670 miles–a new record for the electric car manufacturer. The former record was a distance of 560 miles, achieved by two Tesla owners in Belgium. After this record was shared online, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk issued a subtle challenge to all Tesla owners, saying that the car could reach 1,000 km on a single charge if the right tires were used. Apparently the Tesla Owners Italia club saw this tweet and took Musk up on it. Based on the picture they tweeted, the car used 98.4 kWh to go the distance, almost double its standard efficiency of 300 Wh/mi. Elon Musk tweeted out his support of Tesla Owners Italia, commenting, “Officially verified as the first production electric car to exceed 1000km on a single charge! Congratulations Tesla Owners Italia!!” What also adds to the wow-factor of this record is that the expected range of the Tesla Model S is a max of 335 miles, half of what was actually achieved.

The Fine Print

To be sure, the new Model S record is quite impressive, but it doesn’t quite tell the full story. The record wasn’t set driving normal speeds for a normal duration of time. One article argues “these hypermiling records don’t generally mean a whole lot, since they’re usually done by driving in an impractical manner – like, in this example, low speed for ~29 hours straight.” They go on to estimate that the average speed was around 23 mph–meaning that it’s lucky they weren’t pulled over if they ventured out of residential neighborhoods. In order to achieve such efficient power usage, the drivers has to take extreme–possibly unsafe–measures. The end result is that the record is really impressive, but also immensely impractical.

What This Means for Tesla’s Future

When it is all said and done, it appears that in everyday conditions, the Model S really doesn’t outlast any of its petroleum powered peers. Nevertheless, the future is bright for the technology driven car manufacturer. If the new record teaches Tesla designers anything, it’s that their cars can be pushed beyond what they are thought to be capable of. As one writer puts it, the record “is still an exciting metric because it shows just how far you can push electric cars if you really want to focus on charge efficiency.” This feat ought to give Tesla manufacturers and owners alike hope that the final frontier is just within their reach. As they continue to realize this, it will be clear that they can truly go where no car manufacturer has gone before.

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