New Tesla Model S Becomes the First Electric Car to Run More Than 300 Miles on a Single Charge

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The new Model S sedan in 90D specification has been given an official US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 303.2 miles or 488 km on a single charge.

The refreshed car has a redesigned nose to reduce air resistance and therefore preserve battery life, but the biggest reason for the jump in range – the outgoing model achieved 296 miles under EPA conditions – is a bigger 90 kWh battery.

To put the figures into some sort of context, the Nissan Leaf, the Model S’s closest competitor in terms of sales has also just undergone a serious battery overhaul. However, the heavily revised 30 kWh battery car is only capable of travelling 155 miles (250 kms) on a single charge and that figure is based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test.

News of Tesla’s new range record arrives as more car companies have started taking electric cars seriously. Volvo has pledged to sell one million electrified cars (hybrid and full EV) before 2025. “It is going to be a challenge, but Volvo wants to be at the forefront of this shift to electrification,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars.

On Wednesday, the German government announced plans to make electric cars popular and accessible via a €1 billion scheme to subsidize the cost of buying EV cars, plus a €100 million fund for installing the requisite charging infrastructure.

However, as green as electric cars can be, a new study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that the level of environmental friendliness of a plug-in car depends largely on where a driver lives. “Most electric vehicle buyers assume that they’re helping the environment by purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle, but there’s more to it than simply making the purchase,” said study co-author Jeremy Michalek, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of mechanical engineering, engineering and public policy.

An electric car’s “clean” factor will be determined by how a US state generates its electricity.

“Electric vehicles offer the largest benefits for urban drivers in mild-climate regions with a clean electricity grid, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles,” says Michalek. “In the rural regions of the colder, coal-heavy Midwest, electric vehicles are often higher emitting than comparable gasoline vehicles today.”

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