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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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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