EPA denies claims over Tesla Model S range test, Elon Musk responds

Musk says testers left the keys in the car and the door open, which sapped some of its range; now the EPA says that's not the case.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
2019 Tesla Model S Long Range
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2019 Tesla Model S Long Range

The race to 400 miles of range is already over, according to Elon Musk.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

The Environmental Protection Agency has rebuffed comments Tesla CEO Elon Musk made concerning what he calls an error during the Model S Long Range's testing process, which the executive says cost the car a 400-mile range estimate. The agency tells Roadshow it conducted the testing properly.

Let's back up for a moment. During Tesla's Q1 investor call this week -- which also included some colorful language surrounding stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic -- Musk said the Model S Long Range should boast a 400-mile range estimate, but instead, the EPA gave it a 391-mile estimate.

Why? According to the CEO, at some point during the testing process, someone left the keys inside the car and the door open overnight. The Model S entered a "waiting for driver" mode, which depleted 2% of the EV's range, hence the sub-400-mile rating. Musk added that the company plans to retest the Model S with the EPA and is "confident" the test will produce a 400-mile car.

Tesla Model S Long Range takes us back to the future

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The automaker did not return Roadshow's request for comment on the situation, but an EPA spokesperson said in a statement, "We can confirm that EPA tested the vehicle properly, the door was closed, and we are happy to discuss any technical issues with Tesla, as we do routinely with all automakers."

On May 4, Musk responded to the EPA's claims via Twitter and doubled down on his original statements while questioning why the EPA would deny it. Tesla has "precise car logs that confirm" the testing issue, Musk said. He followed up by brushing off the back-and-forth and again said he's confident the EPA will return 400-plus miles of range with a retest.

It could very well be that Tesla estimates show the Model S Long Range returns a 400-mile range, but for now, the 391-mile estimate sticks with the EPA. To Tesla's credit, that's still the highest range rating of any electric car currently on the market, and just nine miles off the coveted 400-mile mark.

If a retest does occur and confirms Musk's predictions, Tesla will be the first company to sell an electric vehicle with 400 miles of range. There's been a race to 400 miles in recent months: Lucid thinks its Air will crack the figure, for example.

Watch this: Tesla Model S Long Range pulls further ahead of the EV pack

First published May 1.
Update, May 4: Adds comment from Musk via Twitter.