What happens to Tesla’s unrealistic power reserve estimates

What happens to Tesla’s unrealistic power reserve estimates

Elon Musk Tesla TSLA

Last month, it came out that not only did it appear that Tesla was overstating the range of its vehicles, but it also had a team dedicated to suppressing any complaints it received. Generally speaking, that sounds bad. According to Reuters, three owners have even gone so far as to propose a class-action lawsuit against the electric automaker. But what’s really going on here? Is Tesla just lying to make owners think their cars have more range than they actually do? Not necessarily.

As Car and Driver points out, it appears to largely come down to the way Teslas calculate range versus electric cars from other brands. Essentially, while most other EVs take driving style and conditions into account when estimating how much range a car has left, Tesla takes a different approach. In C/D’s testing, it looks like Tesla essentially checks how full the battery is, multiplies that by the total EPA-estimated range, and spits out a number.

It’s an approach that keeps the math simple, but at the same time, it means that often, for every five miles you drive, the estimated range remaining drops by more than five miles. For owners, it’s understandable that noticing that can be frustrating. However, C/D also points out that if you enter a destination in the navigation system, the estimated range you’ll have left upon arrival is more accurate even though it doesn’t change the range readout.

With other EVs that C/D’s tested, the remaining range wasn’t as consistent but appeared to be more accurate since it changed based on various factors that impact range. It’s a more complex approach to estimating range, but at least it’s an attempt at being more accurate. So it’s not like Tesla is lying with its range estimates. It’s just using a simpler, arguably more misleading, method of calculating it.

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