Electric Vehicles

Tesla becomes world's first company to have an EV with over 400 miles of range

The Model S is the flagship fo the Tesla lineup.

Photo courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla Model S Long Range Plus is now the first electric car with a 400-mile range. Four hundred miles is getting into what a normal car can do on a tank of fuel, and helps smash an important psychological barrier to electric car adoption.

I've driven a lot of electric vehicles (EV). I've reviewed just about everything Tesla makes, and I've never had any particular worries about "Range Anxiety" — that nagging feeling that EV owners supposedly have where they fret about just how far they can go before running out of electricity.

But it's something I constantly hear from potential EV buyers before they buy an EV, so it's a real obstacle to EV adoption. No matter how much EV-proponents bang on about how 99-point-whatever percent of people drive under 20 miles every day, folks will still say "but what if I want to drive to Grandma's house that's hundreds of miles away?"

There are two main ways to deal with this. One is an extensive high-speed charging network, to allow EV drivers to stop, stretch their legs and grab a Diet Coke while their car refuels itself — Tesla has done a bang-up job of this with its extensive Supercharger network, while other companies like Electrify America are doing a decent job playing catchup. The other is to build cars with longer and longer electric range, so they don't have to charge up in the first place.

That's what the 400-mile Tesla is all about, and it's been a bit of an adventure to get here. The first Tesla Model S could go an EPA-estimated 265-miles on a charge in 2012, which was still pretty good. That exceeds the (much cheaper) Chevy Bolt's 237 miles when it debuted in 2016, and Tesla has continued to extend the range of its cars thanks to more advanced battery tech, larger battery packs, and a few other nips and tucks like more aerodynamic wheels, tires with less rolling resistance, and more advanced motors.

The trek to an EPA-estimated 400-mile range has been a little confusing, though. During Tesla's quarterly earnings call at the beginning of May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted that the top range of the Model S was 391 miles — but claimed that EPA estimate was wrong.

"Actually... the real Model S range is 400 miles. But when we did the last EPA test, unfortunately, EPA had left the car door opened and the keys in the car — this is overnight. And so the car actually went into waiting-for-driver mode and lost 2% of its range. As a result, it had a 391 test," he explained.

2021 Tesla Model S The Tesla Model S is the largest of the company's sedans.Photo courtesy of Tesla

The EPA denied this claim, saying that it tested the vehicle properly and noting that it was happy to discuss technical issues with Tesla privately as it does with all automakers.

Well, it seems that Elon was right. Tesla announced in a blog post this week that the top-range Model S has an "official EPA-estimated range of 402 miles." Sure, that 11 mile-increase in range won't actually affect anyone who buys the thing — it has the same range regardless of what the EPA says, of course — but triumphing over that oh-so-important psychological barrier of 400-miles makes a difference. Probably.

It's also worth noting that few EVs even breaks the 300-mile barrier. The closest contenders (according to the EPA) are:

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is slated to have 300 miles of range as "a target" according to Ford.com.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is the company's first long-range electric vehicle for the U.S. market.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The long-teased Volkswagen ID.4 has arrived. Volkswagen will make the battery electric vehicle (BEV) its first long-range model sold in the U.S. The model will be made in the U.S.A at VW's Chattanooga plant and go on sale in early 2021.

"The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package."

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Platform and battery design

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With a serviceable body design, the highlights of the ID.4 reside in the details. Its battery pack consists of 288 pouch cells in 12 modules. The pack resides under the vehicle's center and doesn't intrude on passenger space. The battery pack is attached to the car via an aluminum hold and connects with an electric motor at the rear.

VW will offer the ID.4 with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery at launch. The power source is capable of achieving 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet for torque, which are good numbers for its vehicle size, though some of that may be undercut by the heaviness of the vehicle - the weight information is still forthcoming from the company.

The ID.4 82kWh RWD 1st Edition models will have a range of 250 miles. A more powerful all-wheel-drive variant with 302 horsepower will go on sale later in 2021.

Each ID.4 that is purchased comes with three years of free charging capability via Electrify America infrastructure. The ID.4 can be charged with both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) fast-charging capability. The onboard 11-kilowatt charger allows for charging the battery 33 miles in about an hour and charges to full in around 7.5 hours on a Level 2 charger. At a DC fast-charging station, with 125 kilowatt charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is touting the vehicle's nimble drivability. VW knows a thing or two about five-door vehicle nimbleness. They're the makers of the Golf GTI, one of the most beloved hot hatches on the planet.

As for dimensions, the ID.4 is 4.6 inches smaller and shorter than the Tiguan, and has a shorter wheelbase. Despite this, the passenger space of the model is similar to the Tiguan. It has cargo space similar in size to the Mazda CX-5.

The ID.4 will available in six exterior colors—Glacier White Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, Moonstone Grey, Scale Silver Metallic, Blue Dusk Metallic and King's Red Metallic. All models come with a body color roof, black roof rails, and 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The Statement package adds a panoramic fixed-glass roof, premium LED projector headlights with Volkswagen's Adaptive Front-lighting System, and power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamp signature. The Gradient package (sold on top of the Statement package) upgrades to 20-inch wheels, black roof, and silver roof rails and accents.

A 5.3-inch digital instrument display replaces the traditional instrument cluster in front of the driver. It's operated with touch-sensitive controls on the car's leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. There is no gearshift because an electric vehicle does not require gears. Instead, the vehicle shifts to drive using a rocker switch on the dashboard.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Interior

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Piano Black material is featured on the steering wheel, steering column, door controls, and display housings. The car's standard cloth seats are finished in black cloth on entry models and Lunar Gray or Galaxy Black leatherette on models with the Statement package. Entry ID.4 models feature six-way adjustable seats with power recline, while the Statement package adds 12-way power seats, with massage lumbar and memory, as well as 30-color ambient lighting.

The roster of standard features includes rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone Climatronic climate control, and KESSY keyless access, heated steering wheel, heated side mirrors and washer nozzles, wireless mobile charging, wireless App-Connect, and Volkswagen Car-Net with in-car WiFi capability, and, on all-wheel-drive models, a heated windshield. The Statement package adds satellite radio, an adjustable trunk floor, and a power tailgate with Easy Open & Close.

Pricing for the ID.4 starts at $39,995, for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro, before a potential federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is applied. Volkswagen Credit will offer qualified customers a monthly lease payment $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing for a 36-month lease with a 10,000-miles per year limit.

Starting later in 2021, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,675) will be available. These models can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500). The ID.4 launches with a limited-run ID.4 1st Edition ($43,995).

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The front of the concept is very EV in its design.

Photo courtesy of Honda

The Honda SUV e:concept debuted in China this week signaling what's ahead for a future mass-production model of the Honda brand's first electric vehicle to be introduced in China. While what's sold in China doesn't always make it to American shores, there are a few things to be learned by taking a closer look at the concept.

We know that the vehicle's powertrain is electric. How many motors? What type of battery? How much power? In a nutshell, we have no idea. However, that could be where Honda's relationship with General Motors kicks in. A recent agreement to share platforms and co-build future vehicles builds on the electric vehicle platform sharing agreement the two automakers signed in April. In the first agreement agreement, Honda agreed to work with GM to develop two new electric vehicles based on GM's global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries.

Honda SUV e:concept The sloping roofline of the concept is indicative of another Honda model.Photo courtesy of Honda

The concept's sweeping looks are more crossover than SUV. While there's plenty of doubt that the model will be a two-door vehicle when it arrives in showrooms, its overall aesthetic is new for Honda, though it has hints of the current-generation CR-V and Accord in its nose.

The roofline of the SUV and side profile look a lot like the 2020 Honda Avancier, a true crossover that got its start as a station wagon and now sits as the company's flagship in China. If indeed this model is an electric Avancier, it means that the U.S. market is unlikely to see it.

From a business perspective, this makes sense. Electric vehicles are not nearly as popular in the U.S. as they are in China and Europe, where they have been regulated into residents' lifestyles. Additionally, the U.S. electric vehicle charging infrastructure leaves much to be desired.

2020 Honda Avancier

Photo courtesy of Honda

Cars built for the Chinese market also do not have to meet the same strict safety testing standards as American vehicles so they can be made for less and sold for less. Upping to U.S. standards costs more and, when shipping and taxes are added in, the model may be priced out of sensibility for American Honda customers.

Wherever it's destined to go, the Honda will be a mass-production electric vehicle.

The company is committed to equipping the car with a number of safety technologies including omnidirectional advanced driver assistance systems, the next-generation Honda SENSING safety and driver-assistive system with improved recognition, predication and decision-making performance, as well as the next-generation Honda Connect, which features an AI assistant interface, smartphone link, and wireless updates.

Honda SUV e:concept The model features a unique black end with slim lights.Photo courtesy of Honda

Expect to see the next steps in the evolution of this concept in the coming year, even if it's just in spy photos.

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