With an EPA-rated range of 265 miles per charge, the Tesla Model S is the longest-range electric car you can buy today. In an interview with AutoExpress though, Elon Musk revealed that a 500-mile battery will be possible “soon”…but at an exceedingly high cost.
When asked “How far will a battery-powered car be able to go?”, Musk had this to say;
It will be possible to have a 500-mile range car. In fact we could do it quite soon, but it would increase the price. Over time you could expect to have that kind of range.”
For a car that can easily exceed $100,000 even with Federal and state tax incentives, jacking the price even higher probably isn’t a priority for Tesla. However, it’s been widely speculated that the Model S is in line for a bigger battery pack, which could go along with a stretched-wheelbase version that’s rumored to be in the works. It’s more than just a bigger battery that gives the Model S more than twice the range of any other electric car; aerodynamics and a unique drive unit make the Model S remarkably efficient despite its heft.
A longer-range Model S takes backseat priority to the soon-to-launch Model X SUV though, and Tesla’s most important car will be the 200+ mile Model III. Tesla has shown that being able to go 200-miles on a charge is more than enough range to get from one side of America to the other, and a 500-mile battery is unnecessary for 95% of peoples’ daily driving needs.
Don’t expect Tesla to go hybrid to achieve that kind of driving range either, though a hybrid battery pack might be possible. Rather, Tesla will always be “pure electric” in Musk’s words, fully embracing his notion that every car on the road should be electric. Musk has also pulled back on his autonomous car bluster, saying that he wants customers to enjoy the electric driving experience. That’s a lot less bullish than his earlier claims that by 2017, Tesla will have a “90% autonomous” car. Instead he wants to “alleviate driver workload”, which indicates he’s probably aiming for adaptive cruise control and auto-follow features, rather than a car that “drives” itself.
As for when we’ll see a 500-mile battery, I’d wager it won’t happen until well after the Model III hits the road. For some people though, this is the ultimate answer to range anxiety.