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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Tesla quietly released the "toy" today.

Tesla

Tesla is known for being unpredictable, so today’s news is not totally shocking, despite being extremely cool. The automaker released a new vehicle today, but not for use on the road, and not for use by grownups. The Cyberquad for Kids landed today with a sophisticated feature set and a very adult price tag of $1,900.

The Cyberquad for Kids checks in at 122 pounds and can carry a person that weighs as much as 150 pounds. Two forward speeds include 5 and 10 mph settings, and reverse can reach 5 mph. Depending on the rider’s weight and speed, the Cyberquad for Kids can travel up to 15+ miles on a charge. Tesla says that an empty battery can take up to five hours to fully recharge.

A full steel frame underpins the quad, and though it’s being pitched for kids, the ATV features adjustable suspension, rear disk brakes, LED light bars, and a cushioned seat. The futuristic EV looks almost identical to the larger Cyberquad we saw during the initial Cybertruck demonstration.

A thorough set of assembly and troubleshooting directions are available on Tesla’s site, but despite the Cyberquad for Kids’ complexity, don’t get any ideas about using it on the street. Tesla recommends using it on sidewalks and for stunts, but I think we’re all looking forward to the eventual tidal wave of YouTube videos this thing is going to generate.

Tesla Cyberquad for Kids Kids 8 years and older, and up to 150 pounds can ride. Tesla

If you’re hoping to get a Cyberquad for Kids, you might be out of luck. Though it only launched today, it’s already out of stock. There’s no word on if more will become available. Those that were lucky enough to snag one should start receiving them in early 2022.

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Electric vehicle concepts

Nissan shows off new concepts and plans for future EVs

Nissan showed off a group of funky concept vehicles at the announcement.

Nissan

Nissan is approaching the release of Ariya, its brand-new EV, but there are plans for much more in the automaker’s near future. Today, the Japanese company announced Nissan Ambition 2030, its plan to develop electrified vehicles and become a more sustainable company. Beyond new vehicles, the roadmap includes investments in battery recycling and charging infrastructure, new battery tech, and more widespread safety technologies.

Nissan Ambition 2030 The automaker plans for 50 percent electrification by 2030.Nissan

Nissan’s plans include 23 new electrified models by 2030. The target covers 15 new EVs and a target of 50 percent electrification. The automaker says it plans to launch a proprietary solid-state battery by 2028, and notes that it will develop a pilot production facility in Yokohama, Japan by 2024. Solid state technologies are not yet commercially viable but will offer faster charging times and better energy densities than lithium ion battery packs.

Nissan Surf-Out Concept Surf-Out is a concept truck with super funky styling.Nissan

While the focus was on the news of its electrification plans, Nissan’s concept vehicles stole the show. The Surf-Out concept truck features a long, low cargo surface and unique all-terrain tires. Typical of concept cars, the Surf-Out’s styling and design are over-the-top. The cabin is surrounded on three sides by glass and open to the bed in the rear. Instead of a grille, there’s a glass panel with an illuminated Nissan logo. It's unlikely Surf-Out or the other concepts shown will make it to production unchanged, but they show that the automaker is looking to explore bold designs with its electrified vehicles.

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