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How was the Tesla 1000 km distance record achieved?

With distance records on electric vehicles being made and broken regularly in 2017, have we reached the future of electric cars faster than expected?

If you’ve been clued into news about Tesla, especially since the rollout of Model 3 production units, you must have heard about the new distance record set by Italian Tesla drivers on a single charge. If you haven’t, the brass tacks are as follows – a group of Italian Tesla owners have set a new distance record of 1078 km (671 miles) on a Tesla Model S P100D, which beats the previous record of 901 km (560 miles) by almost 180 km (110 miles), set by Belgian drivers Steven Peeters and Joeri Cools in June.

One of the primary concerns that people have about buying electric cars is the possibility of running out of juice in the middle of nowhere with no way to plug into a power source. You could call it ‘range anxiety’. If the number of electric car distance records being made and broken in 2017 is anything to go by, those fears are baseless as of now. But how exactly did members of Tesla Owners Club Italia achieve this task?

How did they do it?

First of all, some details are due. The task was achieved in under 29 hours by a group of five drivers in South Italy. The charge port on the P100D being used was even sealed by the officiating lawyer prior to the challenge’s commencement.

The drive itself was optimised from the start. There were three major factors that influenced the achievement:

  • A technique called ‘hypermiling’ was put to use by the five drivers who took turns to be at the driver’s seat. They drove at an average speed of 40kmph, kept the air-conditioning turned off and used minimal braking during the ride.
  • The tires used were the standard low rolling resistance tyres, a type of tyre designed to reduce the energy loss due to tire rolls, in turn improving vehicle fuel efficiency. On an average, approximately 5–15% of the fuel consumed by a typical car may be used to overcome rolling resistance, although it might vary depending on the specific engine used.
  • The semi autonomous driving system that is available on Tesla vehicles also helped the drivers maintain a constant speed in the middle of the lane.

What could this mean for electric cars?

There is a reason why the average mileage for the P100D is set at about half of the achieved record distance by Tesla. The realities of the road, combined with the typically low average speed of 40kmph makes this feat rare and impractical. In fact, in the last stretch of the trip the vehicle averaged at around 23 miles per hour (which, interestingly, is achievable on racing bicycles by professional athletes for short stretches), which clearly shows that expecting the same results on your electric vehicle would be foolish.

“To complete the 1078 km record distance, we used 98.4 kW/h of electricity, which are equivalent to 8 liters of gas- 3,78 gallons,” explains Tesla Owners Club Italia President Luca Del Bo. If we look at this from an Indian perspective, the average rate of power in India is around Rs.5 per kW/h. So, essentially, if this P100D was charged in India, this trip was achieved at an cost of approx 50p per km. Even if this is doubled to take into account a more realistic mileage, at a rate of Rs.1/km, this average is way better than what most combustion engines can offer today.

This does not mean that electric vehicles will outperform your expectation in every situation regardless. We still have some way to go for that. But range anxiety with electric vehicles is on its way out with more such records being made everyday. Any electric vehicle will benefit from some, if not all, the practices involved in hyper-miling.

Source: TeslaOwners.it





Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee