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EVs Explained range no text
EVs Explained

The secret to electric car range estimates—and why Tesla always scores big

Welcome to yet another lesson on what’s perhaps the biggest selling point on today’s crop of electric cars: EV range. Yes, everyone would love to have an EV that can keep pace with, if not outlast, their gasser companions on the open road, but what some may not know is that those big ol’ range numbers people use in their games of Top Trumps come from tests. Different tests. Not every EV is held to the same standard and, therefore, can produce wildly varying range numbers in real-world scenarios, oftentimes as a bid to earn the bigger number just to say they can.

Gasp! You mean an automaker can willingly choose a method of range testing if it means being able to advertise that they can wave a bigger stick, even if the product doesn’t necessarily yield the same results in practice? That’s obscene! They would never choose a less honest route just to fluff up their brand image, would they?

Ha! Well, yes. Yes, they can. And they have. Many electric cars have been recorded not to hit their original estimates, and only a few are noted to match or exceed. Tesla and, recently, Lucid have been accused of being the worst offenders in magazine range comparisons, and there’s angst out there regarding it. Enough for me to pen up this EVs Explained piece just to tell you all about the wonderfully riveting world of EV range testing. Don’t get too restless. Like an old compliance car, I won’t take you too far.

A white 2023 Kia Niro EV is seen driving through the city.
Image credit: Kia

One size fits some

Varying EV range tests have been a thing for some time. Such methodologies include America’s EPA, Europe’s Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), Europe’s now-obsolete and unrealistically optimistic New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), and the controversially unrealistic China Light Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC).

On a recent press launch, I had the opportunity to discuss such varying test methods with Edmunds test editor, Reese Counts, who commented on his Mach-E long-term loaner’s range. And although it didn’t quite hit its EPA estimates, as he commented that almost no electric car does, he does enjoy that it was a very “real” range estimate and didn’t leave him feeling as though a buyer would be conned. As a youngin’ in this field, I asked him what he meant.

Each agency has slightly different testing practices, which already yield different numbers on just the window stickers alone. In America, automakers have a choice of two routes within the EPA’s own set of rules. Because of this, it’s become a clear trend for certain cars from certain brands to come closer to their estimates than others, while others are seemingly blatant lies, except they’re not actual lies. They’re just tested under optimal conditions that favor them. Frequently, it seems these test results can be too optimistic, as seen in some of these big-name magazine range tests, where some cars consistently leave egregious gaps, sometimes as big as 100 miles or more, between their as-tested range and their advertised estimate, like the Tesla Model 3 or Lucid Air in Motor Trend’s recent test.

Mustang Mach E in the snow
Image credit: Ford

“They don’t bullshit you,” summarizes Counts regarding automakers with comparatively uninspired range claims for cars that can at least come close in the hands of normal drivers on real roads. Then he recounts cars that willingly choose alternate tests to bolster the range numbers as yet another example of “overselling but underdelivering.”

“Their numbers rarely line up with each other and can also differ from real-world ranges because each organization has its own specific test procedures,” explains Jeremy Laukkonen in a tech explainer for Lifewire. Enough content exists on the internet to explain at least some of those in greater detail, but I’ll summarize them with key highlights as best as I can.

EPA vs. WLTP vs. CLTC range testing

Basically, all EV range tests involve strapping a car down to a dynamometer or dyno, a “rolling road” as they’re sometimes referred to and basically function as a treadmill for cars. The vehicles are then charged to full, left overnight, and run through various cycles to simulate city and highway driving until the batteries can’t power the car. The vehicle is then recharged and run again and again for many tests. EPA and WLTP function similarly but have a few slight twists to them to make their estimates vary.

There’s enough nuance and small details to spin each agency’s test methods off into their own article… which we may actually do at some point. But for now, here are quick, digestible breakdowns of each one.

For greater detail, please consult your doctor (this breakdown by InsideEVs) to see which EV range testing method is right for you (less of a load of crap, in your opinion).

EPA

EPA gives the automakers a choice of a “two-cycle” or “five-cycle” range test, which essentially just dictates how many times the car goes through testing cycles. More on those cycles in a bit, as those are what give us the bigger and smaller gaps in real-world range numbers. City test cycles are conducted for a hair over 11 minutes at a time with a top speed of 56 mph and an average speed of just over 21 mph. Highway test cycles are run for a bit over 10 minutes at an average speed of 48 mpg and a top speed of 60 mph. The combined range figure is estimated by weighing together the city and highway numbers, with city driving accounting for 55% of the score and highway driving for 45%. To further simulate the range-dropping factors of real-world environments, the range is then multiplied by 0.7 to lower it.

In 2008, the EPA added three more cycles an automaker can test for that would better indicate range in real-world conditions, including a 95-degree hot weather test with air-conditioning on, a 20-degree cold weather test, and a high-speed test. Again, the results of using these extra cycles are detailed in a section below, but first, let’s see how they do things across the pond.

WLTP

Like EPA, WLTP uses cycles to test vehicles, but they’re also broken down further into classes based on max speed and power-to-weight ratios. The higher the vehicle’s performance, the higher the test speeds, hence why a Model S Plaid won’t be held to entirely the same standard as, say, a Renault Twizy. A WLTP test will be broken down into Low, Medium, High, and Extra High sub-cycles and run for 30 minutes over 14.4 miles at an average speed of 31 mph and a top speed of over 81.

Unlike the EPA range tests, the lab temperature is static at 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and they do not add the 0.7 real-world multiplier to lower the final range numbers. This is partly why EPA numbers are typically lower than their WLTP counterparts. For instance, the combined range of the most frugal Mustang Mach-E in America is rated at 300 miles. Compare that European Mach-E estimates of up to 372. Want another? The refreshed Tesla Model 3 Highland Long Range has a range of 305 to 341 miles, depending on wheel choice, but WLTP estimates peg it between 390 and 421.

Ah yes, the Long Range’s range is indeed long.

CLTC

This is a China-exclusive measure that isn’t necessarily relevant to Western EV buyers unless you enjoy speculating and eyebrow-raising. Criticized as “pushing an EV down a hill in a vacuum,” this methodology has been panned for the same reason as the now-defunct NEDC by producing highly optimistic range figures that may not be anywhere near indicative of what a real-world owner may experience. Unless they apparently push their car down a hill in a vacuum.

This CLTC test is conducted at a constant cruise of 25 mph until the battery goes kaput and is then adjusted for weather, terrain, and other factors via data compiled from real Chinese drivers across its many regions. While yes, this very much plays into an electric car’s inherent lows-speed efficiency and is not quite representative of what Western-driven cars will see, it’s important to remember that this is a Chinese test for Chinese market cars, so EVs are held to a different standard for their own driving environments, which are often dense, slow, and without too much intercity travel on massive high-speed highways.

Two-cycle vs five-cycle range testing

EPA test cycles
Image credit: fueleconomy.gov

Okay. So, different regions in the world conduct varying range tests and score different figures. Alrighty then, but what about the rampant talk of some brands like Tesla and even Lucid having massive disparities between lab-brewed estimates and real-world numbers?

As Counts explained to me when talking Mach-E numbers, this widdles down to the number of test cycles an automaker chooses to use.

As mentioned, the EPA offers a simple way to test for city and highway ranges with a city and highway cycle. Most automakers opt for this two-cycle test, while a few, particularly smaller startups, opt for the five-cycle test, which, as you can imagine, tests the car over more cycles. As detailed in another InsideEVs piece, it’s not that these companies are conning anyone or cheating a system. They’re just using the options available to them to gain an advantage. Such an advantage yields them a higher number that, therefore, looks better to the press and consumers and puts these startups or anyone else who uses the five-cyle option on a pedestal.

Why is this? Simple.

More cycles let EV makers take advantage of a car’s low-speed efficiency since they’re obviously exerting less energy to move at slower speeds and are bolstered by goodies like regenerative braking. The additional test cycles reportedly also include “high-speed” or aggressive driving, hot weather with air conditioning, and cold weather tests, all of which are done at a low enough speed to work in an electric car’s favor. Cool beans, except when magazines and owners conduct their own independent tests, typically on highways and at far higher speeds than the EPA’s lab experiments. This means the range disparity is, well, to say “noticeable” would be an understatement. Still, this practice of extra low-speed tests is allowed by the EPA and is totally legal, even if it’s not exactly aligned with other automakers’ decisions and doesn’t perfectly convey real-world range results on American roads.

“Such variance. Much wow.”

In case this article, its more detailed source material, and the embedded videos haven’t engrained this into your head by now, there is a mindboggling, brain-jerking, head-spinning array of variance and inconsistencies involved in EV range testing and, by extension, MPGe testing. Not only do global agencies use different methods, but there are also different cycles and sub-cycles within these methods that all yield different results for different cars. On top of that, it doesn’t help that electric vehicles are politically and societally forced to be one of the fastest evolving niches of cars on the road today, with vehicles from several years ago being nearly unrecognizable from a technical perspective from electric cars produced today.

“EVs are one of the fastest-changing areas that we deal with in our laboratory just in terms of how fast this technology is moving,” says engineer, Jarrod Brown, in CNBC’s look at EPA EV testing. “If you look at a vehicle that we had in here even five years ago, a 2016 or 2017 electric vehicle looks almost completely different internally from what we’re seeing in vehicles coming in 2024.”

When testing for range and efficiency, automakers have different ways of recording data for certification, and their cars can all use power differently. One car may not allocate the same energy to running HVAC systems as another, or they may intake and exert electricity to propel the car differently, and so on.

“Every manufacturer kind of has their own way of reporting data on where the power is coming into and going out of the vehicle,” Brown continues regarding the complexity of EV power distribution. “How it’s moving around between the motors and the batteries, or if it’s doing things like regenerative braking, or strategies about how power goes to the heating and cooling system versus how to keep the battery at the right temperature.”

The EPA system, with its many cycles, strives and often succeeds to at least come closest to what consumers can see on their commutes. But this level of added complexity and nonstop evolution may have the current ways of lining up their rulers all tripped up and out of spec. Many critics agree that modern EVs have well outgrown their archaic methods and that a new wave of standardization must come in order to bring realism and uniformity to electric car efficient measuring.

And if the word is true, change is indeed coming. One popular suggested method is providing city and highway range estimates like how the EPA already does for MPG and MPGe instead of weighing together the two for an average number. That way, consumers know what their best and worst-case scenarios are and don’t take a singular number as the definitive range their cars will always achieve.

Class dismissed

Did I lose you yet? Summary time!

The world has its many ways to measure range, all of which controversially lack a resemblance to real-world range tests, an issue which can be attributed to a variety of reasons, such as different test lengths and speeds, varying methods of averaging out final numbers, or even a lack of air resistance being in a lab strapped to a giant automotive treadmill. Europe currently has WLTP, China has CLTC, and America has the EPA, the latter of which offers a two and five-cycle test for automakers to run their EVs through.

Tesla EVs Explained range
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A two-cycle test is a fairly basic test with cycles to simulate city and highway driving. The longer optional five-cycle test introduces high-speed, air-con, and cold tests conducted at fairly low-ish speeds, which works in favor of EV manufacturers since electric cars are incredibly efficient in urban use and deliver the best mileage at slower speeds. This, along with a final range number that favors 55% city and 45% highway driving, makes the five-cycle incredibly alluring to startups like Tesla and Lucid, who claim the biggest numbers in the game yet tend to show the biggest disparity in real-world range come independent tests, which are often done at higher speeds over mostly highway. And while it doesn’t deliver the prettiest, most headline-worthy figures, other automakers opt for the simpler two-cycle test as it yields the more realistic final number that is then more likely to be met by actual owners or at least have come close to.

So go forth and stay educated! And remember this one big takeaway: Like gas mileage, EV range can vary greatly. Everything from weather, road conditions, speed, and HVAC usage can affect your range, and, like these many different magazines, your own electric car’s range may be different from what any agency or even another owner gets. Your driving style may yield a 10-mile range disparity or a 100-mile one. Who knows? Just know that whatever car you buy, whether from some big-name legacy automaker or a fancy-schmancy startup, take those window sticker estimates with a grain of salt.

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The Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Model 2 and Tesla CyberTruck
News

Every new Tesla (supposedly) coming in 2024, 2025, and beyond

(Editor’s note: updated 2/8/2024)

Tesla, the American automaker owned by electronic musician Grimes’ on-again-of-again “situationship” Elon Musk, continues to be one of the most popular and ubiquitous electric vehicles on the road. Despite the bad press surrounding the erstwhile richest man in the world’s stewardship over X (formerly known as Twitter), the enthusiasm for new (and used) Tesla electric vehicles remains high – and not just among Musk fanboys, as one might assume.

Elon Musk greets his fans at an event.
Elon Musk in happier times. Credit: AP/Andrej Sokolow

Since becoming one of the pioneering electric-only car companies, Tesla has had its fair share of controversies, blow-ups (both literal and figurative), and general bad vibes. The quintessential example of the adage “no such thing as bad press,” Tesla’s engineers are known for setting the pace within the industry (for better or worse) and the end result has been consistently impressive – with sales to match.

Chart credit: Statista

The Tesla landscape in 2023

If you’re thinking about going all-in on Mr. Musk’s latest mystery machines, some patience might pay off in the long run. Tesla continues to cut the MSRP for its cars, with further reductions expected following yet another earnings miss and waning investor confidence. Otherwise, you can find a used Tesla for less than the price of a base Nissan Altima, especially the Model 3.

For some bleak outsider comedy, the transcripts from the earnings call are out there – and they feature moments like this one that prove Elon totally knows what pennies are and also definitely watched Game of Thrones.

It’s like Game of Thrones but pennies. I mean, first approximation, if you’ve got a $40,000 car, and roughly 10,000 items in that car, that means each thing, on average, costs $4. So, in order to get the cost down, say, by 10%, you have to get $0.40 out of each part on average. It is a game of pennies.

Elon Musk – Tesla Q3 2023 Earnings Call

What’s next for Tesla in 2024 and beyond?

Now that we’ve got that all out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff. As mentioned above, Tesla continues to innovate in the electric vehicle space. The American automaker’s upcoming roadmap includes a production fleet of Tesla Semi trucks, a refreshed Roadster 2.0, the diminutive Model 2 (or Baby), and, of course, the elephant-colored chunk of metal in the room – the Cybertruck.

Four of Tesla's upcoming electric vehicles, the Tesla Semi, The Tesla Roadster 2.0, the Tesla Model 2, and the Tesla Cybertruck.
Clockwise from top left: Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Model 2, and Tesla Cybertruck (image: Acceleramota)

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start with the long-promised reboot of the electric car that put Tesla on the map: the Roadster.

Cybertruck (SURPRISINGLY, IT’S FINALLY HERE)

Let me start this section with an apology.

If you follow me on Twitter or know me IRL, you’ve probably heard me make fun of the Cybertruck. Maybe you’ve seen me make fun of the way it looks, or the door panels don’t align, or how it couldn’t jump a small curb in “off-road mode”, or how its basic design flaws were costing the company untold millions. You definitely would’ve seen me make fun of the time he revealed the Cybertruck to investors by smashing its supposedly unbreakable window with a rock.

Welp. Against many people’s negative outlook, the Cybertruck is finally here for U.S. orders in 2024. And that’s despite the testing hiccups that have occurred over this truck’s gestation period. The prototypes were breaking down like crazy, and the model year was pushed to 2025. It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence that Elon Musk is saying things like “[Tesla] dug our own grave with the Cybertruck” on investor calls.

So yeah, there’s been a lot to make fun of with the Telsa Cybertruck, but this past week Elon completely redeemed himself. Oh no, I’m still joking, all he did was shoot it with a danged Tommy Gun – surely this will make the Cybertruck the #1 choice of getaway vehicle for old-timey scofflaws, rascals, and ne’er-do-wells.

There isn’t really much else to say about the Tesla Cybertruck that hasn’t already been said. At the moment of writing, Tesla is claiming a production run that’ll start in 2024, but even long-time fans are starting to lose faith. As a recent post on r/RealTesla (the Subreddit for Tesla drivers who haven’t “drank the Elon-Ade”) calls out:

While I have little faith in humanity left, surely nobody is going to actually buy a CyberTruck, right?

I just can’t imagine the shame.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be “that guy”?

Would you confuse all the smirking attention for admiration? I can’t get my head around the mental gymnastics it would take to buy, own and drive one.

Additionally, can you imagine the type of person who would buy one? Like, just think about it for a second. It’s horrible!

u/St3fanz on r/RealTesla
Concept art of the stainless steel Tesla Cybertruck on a desert somewhere.
Image credit: Tesla

Tesla Cybertruck Info:

  • MSRP: $60,990 (Rear-Wheel Drive), $79,990 (All-Wheel Drive), $99,990 (Cyberbeast)
  • 0 to 60 mph: 6.5 seconds (single motor), 4.1 seconds (dual motor), 2.6 seconds (Cyberbeast)
  • Top speed: 130 mph
  • Weight: 6,843 pounds
  • Towing: 7,500 lbs (Rear-Wheel Drive) 11,000 lbs, (All-Wheel Drive), 11,000 lbs Cyberbeast)
  • Battery capacity: 123 kWh
  • Range: 250 mi (Rear-Wheel Drive), 340 mi (All-Wheel Drive), 320 mi (Cyberbeast)
  • Seating: 5 adults
  • Cargo volume: 120.9 cubic feet

Roadster 2.0 (maybe?)

When the original Tesla Roadster was announced for production in 2008, the upstart carmaker’s first release boasted some eye-popping stats. The sleek, futuristic design felt right for the advanced electric motor hidden within that could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Throughout its lifespan, the Roadster has seen MSRPs for competitive models balloon, making the 2009 edition’s $98,000 price tag seem quaint in comparison. The original run of Tesla Roadsters ended in 2012 despite the 2010 model being Elon’s daily driver of choice. Since getting blasted off into literal space on the back of a goddamn rocket, the O.G. Tesla hasn’t made many headlines, so a refresh shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Elon's red Tesla Roadster which was mounted to the Falcon Heavy Rocket and shot into outer space. You can see the earth placidly behind the car.
“Elon’s Roadster” mounted on the Falcon Heavy Rocket (Credit: Wikipedia)

While official details are hard to find, it’s clear that the new model of the Tesla Roadster will pick up where version one left off. It will be sleek, it will be stylish, it will be full of next-level tech, it will be fast, and you’d better believe your ass that it is going to be expensive. The Tesla Roadster is not an entry-level electric vehicle and we can’t wait to see how it compares to the original. Unfortunately, for now, all we can do is poke around the internet for some concept art and dream of yet another high-performance vehicle we simply cannot afford.

Concept art of the Tesla Roadster 2.0
Image credit: Tesla

Tesla Roadster 2.0 info:

  • Expected model year: 2026
  • Expected MSRP: $200,000 (Founder’s edition: $250,000)
  • Expected 0 to 60 mph: 1.9 seconds
  • Expected top speed: 250mph (403 kmh)
  • Expected battery capacity: 200 kWh
  • Expected battery range: 620 mi (998km)

Tesla Model 2 (Q/C)

When it comes to more practical electric vehicles in the works from Tesla, the Model 2 absolutely has the Cybertruck beat – but basically every EV available has the Cybertruck beat. Sometimes referred to as the Model Q or the Model C by the Tesla nerds who hopefully won’t find this article and “punish” me by clicking on it angrily (and repeatedly), the Tesla Model 2 promises to be a smaller, more futuristic hatchback.

Tesla Model 2 teaser rendering
Image credit: Tesla

Taking design cues from both the popular Model Y and (apparently) [sigh] The Cybertruck, the Model 2’s real headline will be its price. In early teases about the new model, it appears the automaker is targeting a $25,000 MSRP for the base-level edition. Very little is known about the Tesla Model 2/Q/C, but we’ll be sure to update this page as soon as more information becomes available.

Tesla Model 2/Q/C Specs

  • Expected model year: 2025
  • Expected MSRP: $25,000
  • Expected 0 to 60: 5 seconds
  • Expected top speed: 120mph (193 kmh)
  • Expected battery capacity: 75 kWh
  • Expected battery range: 279 miles (single motor)

Tesla Semi

Concept art of the "New Tesla Semi" semi truck.
Tesla Semi concept art (Credit: Tesla)

The Tesla Semi truck was called “badass” when the company announced it way back in 2017 and while the aggressively futuristic freight vehicle has impressed in the abstract, the rollout has been a bit of a mess. Musk’s notoriously dodgy PR is at least partially to blame for the confusion, according to my new favorite website Freight Waves,

Trucks in the United States are allowed to weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds, including the tractor, the trailer and everything you’re fitting inside. Electric trucks, like the Semi, are allowed to weigh 82,000 pounds. Companies typically want to haul as much as they can in a single truck, so getting close to that 80,000-pound limit is ideal.

However, Tesla, which did not respond to a press inquiry, has not released information on how much the truck actually weighs.

That limits what the Semi is able to haul, and for how long. Right now, snack and beverage behemoth PepsiCo is the only company to have received its Tesla Semis. It has three dozen electric big rigs servicing two California warehouses.

From one base in Modesto, California, 15 Tesla Semis are hauling Frito-Lay products up to 425 miles, according to a 2022 Reuters article. That means potato chips and other snack foods — a (literally) low-lift task. From another base in Sacramento, California, 31 Tesla Semis are hauling loads of soda. It’s a much heavier load, but these trips are around 100 miles, per Reuters. 

That would make the Tesla Semi a less versatile truck than a traditional option, where you know what it weighs and how long a distance it can handle. When communicating to a commercial audience, it’s crucial to include those details.

Rachel Premack – Freight Waves

Most recently, the Tesla Semis that have been put into use had a major safety recall after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered the electric trucks could “fail to move into the park position when the parking brake is activated,” which is kind of an important thing for a 30,000+ lb truck to be able to do.

New Tesla electric semi trucks parked at the Pepsi plant in Sacramento.
Image credit: PepsiCo
  • Expected model year: 2025
  • Expected MSRP: $250,000+
  • Expected battery capacity: 950 kWh
  • Expected 0 to 60: 20 seconds
  • Expected maximum gross combined weight: 82,000 lbs
  • Expected battery range: 300-500 mi

FAQs

So, there we have it, every new vehicle Tesla claims will be released in the next few years. We’ll keep this page updated when more details come in, but candidly I would not be surprised if at least one of these models fails to materialize before 2030. Maybe I’m being a pessimist, but then I look at the Cybertruck and I know deep in my soul I am right.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Roadster 2.0?

The Second-Generation Tesla Roadster was teased in 2017, but hard details are difficult to find. At the time of publication, the Tesla Roadster 2.0 is rumored to be part of the 2026 model year.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Model 2/Q/C?

While Tesla has been teasing it for a while now, details about the hatchback Tesla Model 2 (also known as the Model Q or Model C) are scarce. This entry-level electric vehicle will have an MSRP of around $25,000 and could be part of the 2026 model year.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Semi Truck?

A fleet of Tesla Semi Trucks was delivered to PepsiCo in Sacramento, CA late last year, but the production model has not yet surfaced. Based on the relative lack of updates, we’re anticipating more information in 2024 and beyond.

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Teslas in winter
EVs ExplainedFeatures

Electric cars and winter: A guide to EV winter survival and how to drive in the winter

It’s cold. So cold. But life doesn’t stop in the cold, and neither does your EV. Winter weather can present unique obstacles for your electric vehicle that don’t often affect gas-engined ones, and you must know how to tackle them. So we compiled everything there is to know about EV winter survival!

Unlike combustion engines, batteries are indeed negatively affected by winter, or at least to a significantly greater extent. You also need to consider your charging habits and where you park your vehicle. And traction is something every car lover must understand when the roads get slippery. We’re not necessarily debunking EV myths here; we’re only providing straight facts on electric car performance (as well as general driving and car ownership tips) during winter. So, let’s dive in and ensure your EV is winter-ready!

Tesla model S winter
Image credit: Tesla

🚦Get ready, set, full disclosure! Some of the links powering our posts contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase, even if it’s not from the page we linked. Affiliate links are not always an endorsement of the product. To really help us keep our headlights shining to make more content like this, subscribe to the Acceleramota newsletter.

Maximizing range in cold weather

At temperatures below 32°F (freezing), battery chemistry functions all slow down, reducing how fast your battery can charge and discharge. Some battery compositions are more susceptible to degraded performance than others. At extremely low temperatures, the electrolyte can freeze, and your battery might be unable to discharge. Charging at low temperatures can also reduce your battery’s life span.

It’s important to note that battery pre-heating is common in electric vehicles, and most will not let you charge before the battery has heated sufficiently. Batteries also generate their heat when you drive. However, note that range may still take a hit as your energy consumption may rise with your reliance on climate controls and heating.

You will lose range. As little as 3% but can be as drastic as 25% to 30%. Whether you’re driving a Tesla or Audi E-Tron, any lithium battery loses range in weather below freezing. The degradation in performance should you find yourself with a nickel-metal battery or perhaps a dinosaur with a lead-acid one.

EV battery winter solutions

Some positive news is that there are solutions to improve your winter battery performance.

  •  Precondition your EV (arguably the most important thing!): Although your car will probably do this before charging, it can help to precondition your EV before this. You can do this using your vehicle’s app, smart home system, or even the car’s infotainment.
  • Park in a garage: Removing your electric car from complete cold weather exposure does help. Parking in a heated garage is an even better option. 
  •  Use a winter car cover: Parking outside is the only option for many people. If that’s you, a winter car cover is your best bet. Yes, more high-tech solutions are coming, but this can prevent your vehicle from freezing over and further reducing battery temperatures.
  •  Warm your EV while charging: Heating your seats and cabin is essential. Warm up while charging is the best way to do this without reducing range.

Winter tires (duh!)

Tesla side view tires
Image credit: Tesla

All-season vs all-weather tires

Winter tires are necessary for those in colder states, but there’s more to tires than just the rubber that meets the road.

All-season tires offer traction in light snow, and some top-tier offerings can fare far better than others, but they’re generally not usable for especially deep snow, ice, and below-freezing weather. Anything below 45°F means it’s time to switch to a more effective tire. 

All-weather tires are better than all-season tires if you live in states with freezing temperatures. Think of them as all-seasons with a marginally broader spread of talents. A more aggressive tread pattern means you get excellent traction in snow and no hydroplaning in melting conditions. The caveat is that these tires are noisier and don’t offer equal performance compared to summer tires. They’re also still not as good as snow tires in winter, and tread life is worse than all-season tires.

Studded vs. non-studded snow tires 

Let’s talk about the real deal. Snow tires are the ultimate winter tire for snow, ice, rain, and temperatures below freezing. The main issue is that these tires are unusable in hotter conditions, so you must switch them out in the summer.

Studded snow tires offer extra traction in icy conditions. The metal studs dig into the ice, are generally the safest option when the roads are icy, and can withstand extremely harsh winter conditions. Non-studded snow tires are just as usable for winter as studded snow tires, albeit with reduced traction when ice is on the road. Not all states allow studded snow tires, and some only allow rubber studs.

Winter tire maintenance

Not all winter tires are the same. On average, electric vehicles weigh more than gas cars, increasing tire wear, specifically during winter. Choose an extra load (XL) winter tire for your EV to prevent this.

Make sure to check your winter tire tread before setting off. A great way to do this is by using a quarter; it’s time to replace the tire If you see the top of George Washington’s head. Regularly checking your tire pressure in the winter is also vital because the air is denser, which lowers pressure. 

Mustang Mach E in the snow
Image credit: Ford

All-wheel drive

Power to the car, people. The basis of all-wheel drive is that it powers all four wheels. Four-wheel drive functions similarly with a different mechanism, but the gist is that you get more traction on slippery surfaces. Winter tires will improve the safety of your vehicle in the colder months; all-wheel drive is that additional step for surviving winter.

It’s important to note the power of AWD systems is significantly reduced without winter tires. Many AWD cars will not help you escape a jam if your vehicle gets stuck, nor will it help you stop and turn since there’s no traction from the ill-equipped tires. That is not to say it is entirely useless in winter, but don’t go out and buy an AWD car if you don’t already have one; winter tires will do just fine.

However! Should you fancy the extra driven wheels, consider the viable options below. Heck, we have pictures and videos of them doing this exact kind of driving.

No winter tires — no problem

Winter is coming! But sometimes, life happens, and winter tires are not an option. Thankfully, there are alternatives to help you get by if you can’t score a set of winter rubber or all-weathers, ones that can be totally transformative and still save your skin when it gets really nasty outside. Some of your options are:

Autosock snow socks are the perfect winter traction tool for sports cars and emergencies. These textile wheel covers pull over your wheels just like a sock. Super quick, super traction!

Snow chains are metal chains that attach to your wheels. It’s a tried and true solution; you can buy these as a fixed set instead of buying them yourself. Even though these are an effective solution for winter traction, snow chains can be quite challenging to install.

Anti-skid tendons are similar to snow chains but forgo the old-school metal for plastic. You could also opt for long-cable ties as they perform the same function.

How to drive in winter

So you’ve put your winter tires on and are ready to take off in your super quiet EV. Another critical point about driving in winter is the driving part. Winter brings a significant loss of tire traction, which is the resistance between your rubber and the road. Too much resistance and you lose speed; too little, you start to slide and lose control of the vehicle.

Here are some extra winter driving tips:

  • Keep your headlights on for improved visibility and to spot black ice easily.
  • Keep your wipers elevated when parked so they don’t freeze to the glass
  •  Increase your following distance to a minimum of five seconds.
  •  Brake more gradually and accelerate gently.
  •  If you hit black ice, take your foot off the gas pedal, steer toward the spin until you regain traction, and do not slam on the brakes. If you find your EV’s brake regen to be quite aggressive, consider dialing it to a Medium or Low setting if it’s adjustable.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N winter driving
Image credit: Hyundai

Surviving a winter emergency

Let’s discuss what you should keep in your emergency kit and what to do if you get stuck. And this goes for all of you, EV or ICE powertrains!

Don’t leave your car. The worst thing you can do is stumble into a winter storm and become stuck outside your vehicle. Run your car every ten minutes for heat, but (and here’s one for the ICE car owners we know are still reading this) crack the window for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Check for any snow that can clog your vehicle’s exhaust.

Keep a kit for emergencies. The National Weather Service recommends these items:

  • Flashlight and Extra Batteries
  •  Blankets/Sleeping Bag
  •  Extra Clothing
  •  First Aid Kit
  •  Non-perishable food like granola bars
  •  Kitty Litter for traction
  •  Snow Shovel
  •  Bottled Water
  •  Cell Phone & Charger
  •  Ice Scraper
  •  with Brush
  •  Booster Cables
  •  Flares/Triangles

Acceleramota recommends staying at home

Image credit: Toyota

The safest place during winter is your house. There are those situations where you have to venture out into the icy depths, but if you don’t need to travel, don’t go out! Winter expeditions are risky even if you take the correct precautions and drive safely. So stay inside where possible and cozy up for more Acceleramota!

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News

Ford has a two-year-old skunkworks team dedicated to EVs

Automakers have long established secret divisions to work out challenging engineering and design issues. Their efforts often turn out some of the most impressive performance models seen from those brands, but Ford’s new skunkworks division is wholly focused on something else.

Ford’s CEO told investors that the company created its skunkworks division two years ago with the goal of building next-generation affordable electric vehicles. Alan Clarke, a former Tesla engineer, is heading the efforts in his role as executive director of advanced EV development. 

Surprise, surprise. EVs haven’t been a golden egg-laying goose for Ford, which reported losses of $1.6 billion on its Model E division last year. The automaker announced a pullback on investments and expanding EV production efforts, but this announcement shows that it hasn’t abandoned the program. CEO Jim Farley said, “We made a bet in silence two years ago. We developed a super-talented skunkworks team to create a low-cost EV platform. It was a small group, small team, some of the best EV engineers in the world, and it was separate from the Ford mothership. It was a startup.”

The skunkworks team developed a platform that will be flexible enough to underpin a wide range of vehicle types. Farley also said the team’s work will support software and connected services, such as Ford’s commercial telematics systems. 

While this is an interesting development, it’s unlikely to yield any immediate products. The team is said to be working on Ford’s third-gen EVs, which would come after the electric truck and SUV we already know about. In the meantime, Ford will lean on hybrids, saying its sales climbed 20 percent last year with an expectation of another 40 percent increase in 2024. 

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Hertz app running on an iPhone with Tesla logo in the background
News

For sale: 20,000 Hertz rental fleet EVs, never worn

In a “strategic decision,” Hertz is selling approximately 20,000 electric vehicles (one-third of its EV fleet), according to an SEC filing. The car rental company is among the latest in a recent wave of organizations backpedaling on earlier EV plans.

Hertz plans to reinvest some of the funds from the sale of EVs into purchasing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to meet customer demand. The plan is to reduce lower-margin rentals and the expenses of repairing EVs while gradually increasing the electric fleet.

The company will lose approximately $245 million from the sale of these vehicles based on vehicle depreciation. Later in the filing, Hertz acknowledged that it needs to balance EV supply and demand. Initially, it set a target of 25% electric vehicles for 2024. Take these numbers with a pinch of salt, as actual data can differ from SEC filing calculations, and fourth-quarter financial data has not been finalized.

In 2021, Hertz announced plans to place 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla into service by the end of 2022. It only has about 50,000 EVs in service, comprising 11% of its total fleet, with Teslas making up 80% of those vehicles.

This is just the latest blow to Hertz’s ambitious EV goals, but it’s not the first time it’s pulled out of a decision it made on EVs with an SEC filing. In 2023, Hertz signed agreements with Tesla and Polestar to buy nearly 200,000 EVs in 2023. In December 2023, it announced a rollout pause because of falling resale values and the high cost of repairs.

Hertz is far from the only company scaling back its EV plans, however. In a Q3 2023 earnings report, Ford announced it would pause construction of a $12 billion BEV factory because many North American customers were no longer willing to pay extra for electric vehicles over their ICE counterparts. GM told a similar story in November. Other companies like Mazda are choosing to focus on plug-in hybrids like the CX-90 PHEV.

“It’s actually become somewhat more of an issue in the past year or so, even though prices of a lot of EVs have come down,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

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Tesla Cybertrucks at Petersen
EventsFeatures

Up close and personal with the Tesla Cybertruck at The Petersen

Over the past few weeks in Los Angeles, Elon Musk’s long-anticipated Tesla Cybertruck fever dream finally became an objectively verifiable reality. And not just on popular car-spotting Instagram posts, either. In early December, I actually witnessed a Cybertruck driving down the Pacific Coast Highway one morning. Then, a few days later, I cruised by one stuck in traffic on the 405. And unless someone got a quick wrap job done, I can also confirm that these first two sightings were, in fact, different Cybertrucks: one finished in that famous brushed stainless and the other in matte black.

Then, a few days later, the Petersen Automotive Museum invited select media for the debut of a new Cybertruck exhibit in the entry hall, complete with an exoskeleton sitting out in the open, as well as the truck that got shot by a Tommy Gun, and even a quick look at the original prototype downstairs in the museum’s Vault. Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen actually owns the production Cybertruck on display bearing VIN #002—almost certainly the matte black one I saw on the 405—and even volunteered as tribute to answer questions from an almost certainly skeptical crowd.

But Musk and von Holzhausen are very busy people trying to change the world (maybe worlds if the Mars plan works out), so I felt absolutely zero surprise when I received a last-minute text bumping up the schedule. Then, when I arrived at the Petersen early, the poor PR pros on hand let me know that von Holzhausen never showed up. Interviews with lowly automotive journalists might not cut the mustard at Tesla, as it turns out, setting off a little warning bell dinging in my mind before I turned for a closer look at the angular hulking masses of metal making up the exhibit.

I wanted to pester von Holzhausen about why the production version shrank by a few percentage points, how the design iteration process began originally, and whether he also believed Tesla dug its own grave with the Cybertruck, as Musk admitted earlier this year. Instead, without a need to keep my game face (or audio recording) switched on, I spent the next hour-plus getting up close and personal with one of the strangest, most perplexing vehicles ever built.

First impressions of the angular Cybertruck

First off, outside on the Petersen parking garage’s first floor, I took a quick pic of a guy taking a pic of a Tesla Semi—full Christopher Nolan Inception soundtrack playing in my head, of course. In contrast to the Cybertruck, the Semi builds on von Holzhausen’s formerly smooth and aerodynamically efficient designs for the Models S, 3, X, and Y (and, supposedly, the forthcoming Roadster, but more on that later). 

Tesla Semi at The Petersen
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Not so much for the Cybertruck, an undeniable exercise in angular excess that attracted even more attention inside the Petersen’s entry hall. The black wrap and black exoskeleton only accentuated the presence of a bulky, boxy shape. The overall size surprised me, too, possibly attributable to the differences between seeing Cybertrucks out and about surrounded by other large cars as I rolled by on motorcycles.

Riding motorcycles in LA traffic is sketchy enough without stopping to rubberneck a controversial new electric pickup truck, so those early impressions only piqued my interest in taking a closer look at the Petersen. And the first thoughts to flit through my bedraggled pre-holiday mind ran the gamut from “gross!” to “gargantuan” because the angular peak sat higher than expected, even with the adjustable air suspension at its normal ride height. The cab looked bigger than in my mind’s eye, and the bed looked smaller. I began to wish I’d brought a tape measure.

Trying to get a better bearing on the actual adjustability of that air suspension system, I ducked into the wheel arch—if we can call it that since it’s squared off. The design somewhat resembled the finger knuckle A-arm of my old Type 955 Porsche Cayenne, except that where Porsche overengineered the Cayenne’s suspension, Tesla appears to have stamped the Cybertruck’s upper A-arm out of sheet metal. Not ideal for an electric truck that weighs north of 6,600 pounds, I thought. And in fact, von Holzhausen’s truck qualifies as the top-spec “Cyberbeast” (because, of course), so it should weigh closer to 3,800 pounds thanks to three electric motors.

Tesla Cybertrucks at Petersen
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Would the rest of the so-called “exoskeleton” continue that beefy theme? Well, in reality, Tesla calls the cage on display a “Body-in-white,” and the exoskeleton itself is made up of the body side panels that connect the front and rear structures, while the roof and rear wall connect the left and right sides. Obviously, we’ve come a long way from the by-now “traditional” skateboard battery layout. But the purpose here, other than general aspirations of badassery, actually involves reducing the number of parts required in what Tesla now calls a “Gigacasting” (because, again, of course).

In all honesty, the body-in-white impressed me more than the actual stainless steel exterior (albeit wrapped) of the finished product. But here, engineers probably received more control over the process rather than being forced to bring Musk’s vision of a slab-everything body to life. Tesla obviously needs to hit all the rigidity targets, accurate mounting points for subassemblies, and crash structure capabilities required by rules and regulations in order to bring the truck to market. Right?

Easy fodder for the critics (a.k.a. me)

Meanwhile, the visible flat panels of the finished truck do absolutely nothing to hide flaws. Even subtle curves or flowing lines on a normal—read: boring—car can help move eyeballs along without drawing awareness to peculiar or mismatched details. Flat planes make mistakes stand out, so Musk’s vision only made the production of Cybertrucks all that much more of a challenge (even beyond the sheer engineering requirements of cranking out an electric pickup with the aerodynamics of a brick).

To that end, the slightly rounded front panel might look the best, while the flat sides, angled inward up top with a flat windscreen that transitions to a roof, all seem somewhat cockeyed from almost every perspective. Is my mind playing tricks on me? Again, should have brought the tape measure. And maybe an eight-foot level to check those straight lines.

No straight line on the whole Cybertruck looks more egregious than the enormous combined hood and front windshield and its single wiper arm. Approximately 48 inches long, based on measurements compared to my wingspan, the arm pivots only from the driver’s side and will almost certainly struggle to keep the passenger’s side of the windshield clear. And will owners need to source wiper blades for semi trucks or road graders to fit? The blade almost reminds me of an early-2000s Mercedes-Benz CLK, but that wiper arm swung from the center with a strange hump in the pivot point to help cover more of the rectangular windshield (still not nearly as rectangular as the Cybertruck’s, though).

Then I glanced down through the windshield and noticed tiny openings at the base of the expansive, flat dash. Maybe for speakers, defroster vents, or both, these little openings looked entirely insufficient for either purpose. And I thought my mom’s second-gen Toyota Prius had a long dash—then again, maybe the low, raked windshield angle requires less air to prevent steaming up. On the other hand, that long dash reveals a major surprise about the Cybertruck that runs almost entirely counter to most other EV designs: Namely, the interior of such a large vehicle doesn’t even feel very spacious. The sharp edges and isolated lines of such a stark profile simply don’t allow for the kind of efficient packaging that made the Model S, 3, X, and Y so revolutionary when they each debuted.

Dino guts burnt to produce the plasticine era

Meanwhile, out in the front, that full-width plastic light bar sits below expansive panel gaps leading down from the windshield along the frunk hood. And below those gaps, through which I could probably sneak an HB #2 pencil, the plasticine fender flares around plastic and rubber wheel covers, simply put, look nearer to a child’s toy than a production pickup. Carved tires, a la most bold concept cars? Maybe on the original Cybertruck, but also a major surprise on von Holzhausen’s personal daily driver. Non-branded other than “Goodyear” and “Load Range D,” the tires themselves measure 285 millimeters in width at all four corners, though, as a recent scandalous video showed, perhaps lack the true kind of all-terrain or mud-terrain compound that such aggressive blocks and sipes might more regularly indicate.

Tesla Cybertrucks at Petersen
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

The irony of using dinosaur guts to produce the plastic on an electric car entirely notwithstanding, the theme continues in the truck bed, too. There, a Petersen rep helpfully pushed the rubber buttons on the left side to roll up the shuttered bed cover and drop the tailgate—the latter worked but required a bit of a helping hand from me, too. (That rolling shutter, by the way, almost entirely kills any semblance of rear visibility.) But more importantly, because the buttons live out in the elements, they are made out of another plasticky-rubberized material reminiscent of jet ski controls or, somewhat hilariously, the Polaris Slingshot’s infotainment buttons.

Tesla Cybertrucks at Petersen
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

In the rear bed, a light strip of similar material to the front brightens up all the black plastic on von Holzhausen’s truck. A real outlet in the bed reportedly powers 120-volt appliances, though I left my espresso machine at home, so I cannot confirm whether it functions—I see no reason why not, but here we are looking at a Cybertruck, after all. The thick bed walls funnel back towards the squared rear bumper, huge panel gaps continuing throughout. Of course, seals below the surface and a watertight battery pack for the skateboard might help, but the thought of this vehicle being able to drive as a boat across rivers and calm seas, as Musk claimed, seems unlikely.

And that’s not to mention the sharp edges at the end of each gap, especially noticeable up front with the frunk hood lifted. Not only will such sharp edges—made of stainless steel thick enough to inspire machine gun testing, remember—undoubtedly wreak havoc on any other cars in the case of accidents, but imagine a child jumping out of the frunk bench seat and hitting their head on the corner. Ouch!

Spartan to the point Of austerity

The questionable angularity continues on the Cybertruck’s interior, where if you thought the S3XY were Spartan, guess again. The steering wheel even gets a squared-off treatment, not quite a yoke but nearer to a racecar design (or a C8 Corvette but wider). As on the Model 3 and Model Y, the Cybertruck’s massive single touchscreen sits horizontally, as is the trend with Tesla, including the recently-revised Model S that now sports the same style of touchscreen. However, the dash also seems to lack climate control vents, too, unless there are tiny openings on the dash to do the trick, like in Model 3s. Controls on the steering wheel seem a step beyond the strict rollerballs and stalks of previous Teslas, but just about everything still requires diving into text-heavy menus on the main touchscreen, including apps, music, and suspension settings.

Selecting different ride heights elicits a noticeable increase or decrease in the wheel arch clearances, though the process of rising and lowering takes about as long as my 2006 Cayenne while the air compressor noticeably charges up pressures. Other options on the touchscreen include playing with the LED mood lighting, which von Holzhausen’s Cybertruck perhaps had set to a karaoke bar theme. I never counted the cupholders since I’m apparently the world’s worst automotive journalist (I blame the distraction factor of that huge dash, large enough to house a Winston Churchill war game).

Flat plastic door panels, flat plastic window switches, flat plastic on the center console, flat metal pedals, and then “Cybertruck” script welded into the foot sill—everything seems utilitarian to the point of no return. Will the remaining customer base who placed early pre-orders and now faces a price tag about half again as high as Musk promised to appreciate the cheaping out? Or do the diehards stick with their deposits and not care? Maybe they even love the austerity? Even the new car smell, still present despite von Holzhausen’s daily driving, smelled plasticky to the point of nearly Airstream-level formaldehyde. And smells are probably even more important in non-internal-combustion cars, believe it or not!

Machine gun testing, because of course

At least we know the Cybertruck truly can take a beating, if not a bowling ball, to the window. The next truck I wandered over to proved as much, riddled with dents and a few small metal tears after being shot with a series of 9mm and .45 caliber bullets. I brushed my hand up against some of the markings and can confirm that none appeared to pierce the metal entirely. Not bad, though, as a friend later suggested, some malcontents may relish the invitation to open fire on a famously bulletproof truck.

This early Cybertruck also gave me a chance to compare some of the differences that always emerge as concept cars progress through development on the way to production. Different fender flares and bumper designs stood out, and I started to wonder whether the design looked better in a matte wrap or exposed stainless. At the very least, wrapping flat stainless probably requires less effort than curved body panels. Or does it? Does it prevent any wrinkles and air bubbles? Maybe a wrap shop with experience working on DeLoreans can get the job done.

To wrap up the visit—pun fully intended—I headed down into the Petersen’s Vault, where the original Cybertruck concept sat charging. Again, the design differences stood out quickly. I spotted an earlier charge port, a cleaner rear bumper, and then a real steering yoke on the interior. Three semi-bucket bench seats made up the front row here, rather than the production version’s center console—the slight shrinkage in overall size might have made a third seat too narrow. If only von Holzhausen had shown up to confirm such speculation.

The concept truck also featured an even more radically squared-off dash design, so my skull naturally winced again at the thought of passenger impacts in the case of an accident. And better lenses on the light bar up front also stood out, even if a ton of fingerprints on the stainless steel distracted me once more. Keeping the raw metal clean looks like a nightmare task, so maybe the wrap is the way to go after all.

Tesla Cybertrucks at Petersen
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

A sharply angled misdirection

Once I left the Cybertrucks and the Petersen behind, my mind kept wandering. At the very least, nobody can say Tesla built a radical concept car into a production vehicle without provoking serious thought about the state of the automotive industry. Bold and aggressive, the design sparks off a new stylistic generation for Tesla—but that’s exactly what the formerly S3XY Models need more than anything, and what buyers need more than an electric pickup truck that borders on gimmick status.

In a surprising moment of self-reflection, Musk all but admitted that perhaps the Cybertruck went a step too far. Not that such a startling truth prevented him from pushing forward into production. We’re far too far into billionaire celebrity-dom to admit certain levels of error or hand the naysayers any kind of victory. And everyone who’s an automotive nerd remembers a certain John DeLorean’s similar drug-fueled stainless-steel fiasco. 

The fact that Tesla still plans to build the Cybertruck at all represents keeping a promise of sorts, which I suppose is a good thing. And something I always have to keep in mind while critiquing any running, driving car is that actually building a running, driving a car requires a miraculous combination of hard work and a fair amount of luck. But as the Cybertruck finally emerges from delay after delay, the end result still seems like something of a misdirection for the company’s efforts and resources. How about dedicating that work and luck to the cars more people will actually drive? What happened to the Roadster and promises of 600-plus miles of range

Tesla Cybertrucks at Petersen
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Meanwhile, Tesla also desperately needs to direct more time and effort into parts and service for cars already on the road while continuing to press forward on the infrastructure change that Musk’s electric revolution requires here on Earth. Yes, Tesla is an automobile manufacturer. But the grandiose vision almost centers more around energy solutions than the cars themselves. And in the Cybertruck, all that energy focuses in the wrong direction.

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Tesla models charging
News

Tesla may be lying about its poorer-than-advertised EV driving range

Liar Liar, Tesla is on fire! Earlier in the week, the EPA forced Tesla to reduce the range estimates the automaker wanted to advertise for six of its vehicles by an average of 3%. The Model Y Long Range is down to 310 miles from 330, and the Model Y Performance is down to 285 miles from 303. Somehow, Tesla managed to beat the guy who crashed his cybertruck.

And the EPA has caught Tesla before! In 2022, the EPA claimed that Tesla CEO Elon Musk exaggerated the 400-mile range for the Tesla Model S Long Range. He just brushed this off. In October 2023, the Department of Justice began probing these overestimated numbers. Let’s not forget the massive Tesla autopilot safety recall earlier this year.

The range issue

According to Reuters reporter Steve Seckler, Tesla has been rigging their range-estimating software. At full battery, it will give the advertised driving range projection; when the battery falls below 50% of its maximum charge, the algorithm will show drivers more realistic predictions for their remaining driving range. 

All five Tesla models tested by Edmunds failed to achieve their advertised range, the website reported in February 2021. All but one of ten other models from other manufacturers exceeded their advertised range. However, take this with a grain of salt and note that Edmund’s testing methods may differ from other publications, such as Motor Trend, which recently conducted its own range comparison test and yielded different results. While no vehicle under Motor Trend’s watch beat their estimates, the one Model 3 they lined up was a back-of-the-pack finisher with a considerable 100-mile gap between its real-world result and EPA estimate.

This range scandal comes off the back of Tesla blaming parts failures on drivers, being fined $2.2 million in South Korea for cold weather range overestimation, and recalling 1.62 million vehicles in China.

Tesla Model 3
Image credit: Tesla

The cover-up

Tesla’s sales numbers have obliterated all other EV manufacturers for as long as we can remember. Tesla delivered 1.3 million cars in 2022 and about 1.81 million by the end of 2023

More vehicles mean more servicing, so Tesla outsourced remote diagnostics to “virtual team members” in Las Vegas.

One current Tesla “Virtual Service Advisor” described part of his job in his LinkedIn profile: “Divert customers who do not require in-person service.” After a Tesla app update, customers complaining about the range could no longer book service appointments. Instead, they got little tips on the issue — everything to divert customers from the problem.

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2024 EV tax credits
News

Here are the 14 vehicles that qualify for instant EV tax credits

It’s a new year, and the seemingly endless drumbeat of news around EV tax credit changes continues. New rules went into effect on January 1, changing the tax credit eligibility criteria yet again and drastically reducing the number of qualifying vehicles. At the same time, the updated rules now allow for a point-of-sale discount instead of waiting for a year-end credit. Here’s what you need to know.

First, the good news: The $3,750 and $7,500 EV tax credits can now be applied at the time of the sale rather than as a year-end tax credit. That will knock a significant chunk off the sticker price of a new EV purchase, including many 2024 Tesla models, and it alleviates the issue some people experience of not having enough of a tax burden to get the whole credit. 

The bad news is that the number of new EVs qualifying for tax credits in early 2024 is much smaller than it was last year. Changes in the rules prioritize battery materials and components from North America, and cars with battery materials from a “foreign entity of concern” won’t qualify. While there are likely many foreign entities the U.S. government is concerned with, in this case, we’re talking mainly about China.

The list of qualifying vehicles includes:

Dealers have to register with the IRS to issue instant discounts, so it’s a good idea to reach out to your local store if you’re interested in stacking that tantalizing lease deal with a respectable government kickback. Additionally, while the list of qualifying vehicles is short now, automakers have to file documentation that proves their vehicles’ eligibility, so the number of models will grow as more companies submit their paperwork.

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Tesla Cybertruck Crash
News

Is this the first Tesla Cybertruck crash in the wild?

The Tesla Cybertruck is almost more of a meme than an actual vehicle at this point, which makes any incident involving the angular chunk of stainless steel a real treat for the company’s critics. A Reddit user posted pictures of the most recent incident – a crash in California – and while it’s still likely to generate chuckles, we’re glad that nobody got seriously hurt. Now, with this incident out there for the general public to see, we have our first real-world look at that steel wedge’s ability to protect occupants from damage (and deal some damage itself).

The Verge found the post by u/boddhya and confirmed the story with the California Highway Patrol, which could be the first in-the-wild crash for the truck. Officials said a 17-year-old in a Toyota Corolla veered off the road and hit an embankment before over-correcting, re-entering the road, and striking the Cybertruck. 

Though the Corolla looks particularly gnarly in the Reddit images, the only injury was to the Cybertruck driver and did not require medical care. Tesla’s “bulletproof” pickup appears to have come out of the crash in much better shape than the Toyota, though we don’t have much information to go on.

With all due respect (sort of), Tesla’s owners are among the most zealous of any brand’s drivers for better or worse, but this is one time where the other person appears to be at fault. The Cybertruck driver was allegedly not using an autonomous driving mode at the time of the crash, and the roads in the Palo Alto area where the collision occurred are notoriously curvy, with poor visibility being a significant issue. 

The Cybertruck’s brutal shape and sharp angles raised many safety questions over the damage it could cause to other vehicles and people. Early critics call out the truck’s thick stainless steel “exoskeleton” as being too rigid and more dangerous in a crash than traditional materials. At the same time, trucks are more dangerous than cars in general, and the Tesla is still far too new to draw any solid conclusions about its overall safety. 

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Still from Tesla's Cybertruck Crash Test
FeaturesHot Takes

I investigate to see if the Tesla Cybertruck is really that safe

Ever since amateur martial arts enthusiast and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the Tesla Cybertruck back in 2019 by throwing a danged metal ball into one of the electric pickup truck’s supposedly “unbreakable” windows, the internet has had questions. Why does it look like that? Will it really be $40,000? Is it actually going to have a 500-mile range on a single charge? And most importantly, is the Cybertruck safe?

The answers to a majority of these questions have been “no,” “probably not,” or “we don’t know,” and pretty much every day the Cybertruck’s reputation suffers a new indignity. For instance, this gem courtesy of the “Rides That’ll Beat Your Ass” account on Musk’s X platform (formerly Twitter):

Down the thread, username “Ass_Beaters” provides additional context, namely that this was a prototype, so it lacked recovery or pickup points and, therefore, had to be towed by the suspension. I cannot say for sure, because I have still not seen a Cybertruck in person, but that is probably not the best way to tow one. It’s unfair to judge a prototype model, as it was built for testing and proving certain engineering specs, but let’s be honest, that doesn’t make it not funny.

Did the Tesla Cybertruck pass crash tests?

When the first production models of the Tesla Cybertruck rolled off the production line at the Austin, TX Gigafactory, reporters, enthusiasts, and internet shitposters alike all wondered aloud how it could’ve ever passed NHTSA crash safety ratings. Especially with the distressing videos released by the automaker itself (look at how the dummy in the back goes flying):

Keeping in the spirit of Elon’s “fuck it, we’ll do it live” ethos, the Cybertruck team has continued crash testing the Blade Runner-inspired EV pickup truck and just today shared some new footage, where at least the side airbags deploy so we don’t have to see the poor crash test dummy’s brain get turned to mush:

So how exactly did the Tesla Cybertruck pass the NHTSA’s crash tests? Well, that’s an easy one – it didn’t! As Teslarati noticed earlier this week, Tesla’s new EV pickup truck was added to the safety watchdog’s database, but with ratings conspicuously absent.

That said, digging a bit deeper, you’ll find that apparently millions of cars are sold every year without verified independent crash testing, and even the insurance company-based IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has to pick and choose which cars they’ll test and/or assign ratings to.

One thing’s for sure, Tesla assures that you’ll be safe if a couple of accountants jacked up on Sam Adams Lagers from the 19th hole decide to go absolutely goblin mode on your Cybertruck:

So… Did the Tesla Cybertruck pass crash tests? We’ll give this one a rating of “possibly.” As evidenced by the videos above, Tesla is clearly doing a lot of in-house testing and if not, at least they have an army of weirdos who pay Elon $8 a month for the privilege of saying how normal and cool the tests look. According to CarBuzz, it will likely be a while until the Cybertruck reaches the sales volume to necessitate a proper NHTSA or IIHS review, so we’ll keep you updated if we hear anything official.

That said, it seems unlikely that Elon would want to be known as the guy who killed Jay Leno or Spike Lee, so let’s hope that they’ve crash-tested the Cybertruck.

Can the Tesla Cybetruck be shot with a Tommy Gun and/or arrows?

We’ll cut right to the chase. We’ve already mentioned this before, but yes, Tesla is making the claim that if your Tesla Cybertruck is shot with rounds from a Tommy Gun, you should be safe inside. This could come in handy if those accountants above are cosplaying as old-timey rascals and/or scofflaws.

And if you find yourself at the wrong end of the Battle of the Five Armies and an Orc who looks suspiciously like Joe Rogan has you in his sights, your Cybertruck should survive the onslaught.

That said, we still haven’t seen any news about the windows, which Elon famously shattered with a danged metal ball at an investor event in 2019. Despite the automaker remaining mum on whether or not the windows will be bulletproof as well, Tesla did sell out of what we have to assume is a relatively short run of $55 window decals commemorating the moment. Considering the fact that there are only 10 non-prototype Tesla Cybertrucks on the road, it’s hard to imagine who purchased these.

Cybertruck OMFG decal listing from Tesla's website
Image credit: Tesla

Does the Tesla Cybertruck have crumple zones?

Ever since the Tesla Cybertruck was announced, folks across the internet wondered about one key detail. Musk intimated that the EV pickup truck would lack traditional “crumple zones” in favor of an “exoskeleton” build. As Jameson Dow of Electrek explained back in 2019, based on the initial designs:

Tesla’s Cybertruck design differs from traditional autos because it uses a stainless steel exoskeleton instead of a traditional body-on-frame design.  In the traditional design, the car body doesn’t have as much structural integrity and is mainly used for aerodynamic and styling purposes, and to protect occupants from the elements.

In the Cybertruck’s design, the entire vehicle exterior is used as a stressed member, allowing it to do double duty as both the body and the frame.  This reduces complexity, and since Tesla is using ultra-hard steel, increases sturdiness of the vehicle’s exterior.

Jameson Dow – Electrek

If you’ve never heard of “crumple zones” before, it’s because they’re something that’s been relatively standard practice in vehicle design since the 70s. According to Traveler’s insurance, the first cars built with “weaker” zones that are meant to absorb, rather than withstand impact were Mercedes-Benz as early as 1959. As this delightful Australian man explains, by absorbing that kinetic energy, less force ends up being applied to the passengers inside the vehicle, preventing or mitigating injury.

Compare the crumple zone footage in that video (or any of the thousands of videos on YouTube explaining the basic concept of crumple zones) to this rendering that has been shared uncritically by Cybertruck-friendly accounts:

So, to answer the question of whether the Tesla Cybertruck has crumple zones? The answer is no. Or maybe “apparently not.” I have a funny feeling this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing about this topic. I saw someone on Twitter claim that the Tesla Cybertruck doesn’t need crumple zones because it will “use all the other cars’ crumple zones” in an accident. I honestly couldn’t tell if the account was satire, so I’m going to leave that factoid as anecdotal.

Either way, a bunch of Tesla fanboys went absolutely nutso after Ralph Nader’s non-profit made fun of the Cybertruck, so clearly they’re going through it.

Is the Tesla Cybertruck safe for pedestrians?

A recent New York Times interactive piece highlighted how pedestrian deaths have been on a steady rise since hitting an all-time low in 1980. Street safety advocacy groups link this to a number of different causes, including city planning, street engineering, and, frankly, the ever-increasing size of American SUVs and trucks.

As you probably know, the Tesla Cybertruck is based on Blade Runner. Or at least it’s a truck that “Blade Runner” (the guy) might drive. That’s why it looks like something your 8-year-old nephew would build in Minecraft. Also, apparently, the reason why the Cybertruck is so pointy is that to make the metal bulletproof, you have to make the truck pointy. Don’t take my word for it, Elon himself said that he tried to bend the metal but it broke the machines.

If this rhetorical tactic sounds familiar, it’s the same one Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock employed when she said she can’t “watch American Idol becaue [she has] perfect pitch.” Either way, the car is sharp as hell, and it might make you wonder, “How did the Cybertruck pass pedestrian crash tests?” Well, the answer to that one’s easy! It didn’t have to.

But it’s unfair to peg that one on Tesla because the United States has no standardized means of evaluating whether or not a vehicle in production has been tested for pedestrian safety. Not only that, the NHTSA only proposed adding such an evaluation this year – so it could be a while. In his official capacity as “Head Twit,” Tesla CEO is “highly confident” that the Cybertruck will be safe for pedestrians.

Fortunately, if you’re in Europe, you are protected by pedestrian safety regulations. According to Euro NCAP, every vehicle sold in the EU must pass VRU (Vulnerable Road User) Protection tests. These tests measure how well new vehicles “protect those vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists – with whom they might collide,” including “the potential risks of injuries to a pedestrian’s head, pelvis, upper and lower leg.”

To Tesla’s credit, their confidence that the Cybertruck will (eventually) pass EU safety regulations seems to be more reliant on the design of its autopilot and full-self-driving systems, which should be hitting European streets and highways in the coming years. Seems like a bit of mixed messaging, given that Tesla just recalled basically every vehicle it has ever sold in the U.S. for a mandatory software update to Autopilot and FSD.

So, to answer the question of whether the Tesla Cybertruck is safe for pedestrians? The answer is “we don’t know, but probably not.” And then you could probably add a little something like, “But to be fair, there are very few trucks sold in America that are probably very safe for pedestrians.” And then you can kind of just shrug and walk away and hope no one asks for any follow-ups.

Is Tesla Cyberbeer Safe?

In case you were planning on paying $75 for a bottle of “Tesla Cyberbeer,” we recommend following the advice of Brian Stone, whose profile proudly claims that he owns not one, but two cars. This is clearly absurd because, as we all know, triples are best.

Conclusion: Is the Tesla Cybertruck safe?

We’ve had our fun today, but what you’re all wondering is whether or not Tesla’s Cybertruck electric pickup truck is safe. Unfortunately, the best we can do is say, “honestly, it doesn’t seem like it.” The production models have been on the street for just over two weeks and we’re already seeing videos of people popping off the fender flares with their bare hands:

It’s clear that fully grown up boy genius Elon Musk is applying the same operating principle to the Tesla Cybertruck that he does to all of his ventures. Do it on the fly, overpromise and underdeliver, and move on to the next thing before anyone has really investigated your prior claims.

It certainly seems like we will eventually see a version of the Tesla Cybertruck that is safe, reliable, and maybe even user-friendly, but none of the videos we’ve seen (including ones shared by Tesla staff!) have given us any confidence that this will be the game-changing EV pickup truck we’ve been promised for nearly half a decade now. We’d love to be proven wrong.

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