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Tesla Model S Reviewed By Consumer Reports As ‘Top Scoring Car’ In 100-Point Rating Test

Tesla Model S. Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors.

In its latest review of nearly 300 vehicles, Consumer Reports rated the all-electric Tesla Model S as the “top scoring car” with a rating of 99 out of 100 points.

To give you an overview, the Model S is a large luxury hatchback which seats five or seven if you include the rear-facing jump seats for kids up to 10 years old.

The sedan can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and is equipped with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery which can allow the vehicle to “travel between 180 and 225 miles per charge, depending on the outside temperature,” said Consumer Reports.

Tesla said the Model S can plug into most 240-volt outlets, standard 120-volt wall outlets, and public stations.

Consumer Reports found that “with Tesla’s optional High Power Wall Connector, its takes about five hours to charge. On a standard 240-volt electric car charger, it would take about 12 hours,” with Tesla adding that a 50 percent charge could be achieved in as little as 30 minutes at Tesla Supercharge station.”

Tesla also takes a sleek modern approach to its fueling system, by having the fuel door hidden. The company explains that as you approach the driver’s side taillight, holding a connector, you press the button and a triangle opens to reveal the small charge port. Another great feature of the Model S is its regenerative brakes.

For overall performance, Consumer Reports said that, “In all, the Model S worked better than we expected, especially being the first homegrown model from a brand-new car company. The Tesla Model S fell short of a perfect score in our testing for one simple reason. You can’t jump in any time you want, and drive to absolutely any point on the map at a moment’s notice.”

The company is working to address these issues by increasing its number of Supercharge stations that are exclusively for Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports added that “unfortunately, they will not charge other EVs. The connector is unique to Tesla and, well, Tesla foots the bill for the juice, which mostly justifies this proprietary arrangement.”

Right now, the Tesla Supercharge network covers states including California and Nevada in the West, and cities including Boston and Washington, D.C. in the East.

Tesla explains that, “Superchargers are designed for city to city travel, enabling Model S electric vehicle drivers to travel for about three hours, take a 20 to 30 minute break to grab lunch or a soda or coffee, and get back on the road charged up. For free.”

Consumer Reports found that Supercharge stations can “pump about 160 miles worth of electricity into the cars’ batteries in half an hour,” which is about half of the batteries full capacity.

For a full charge at a Supercharge station, last month at a California event Consumer Reports watched Tesla demonstrate “the ability to hot-swap batteries in a Model S in about 90 seconds.”

Consumer Reports commented that, “The ability to swap batteries counters a notable objection to electric cars – limited range,” further expressing that from its own test drives, “In daily driving, the Model S has exceptional range, well over 200 miles in our experience. However, it cannot go on a multi-state road trip without some planning and delays for recharging.

“The Model S battery resides in a large flat pack that sits under the whole floor and forms a structural component of the chassis. In the demonstration, the cars drive over a pit in the floor, similar to an instant oil change bay. A robotic tray under the floor unbolts 1,000 pound battery pack, lifts it out of the way, and bolts a new one in, torqueing it to factory specifications.”

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk speculated at the event that “getting a new battery at one of the hot-swapping stations would cost $100. For that, you’d get a full battery, not one half full, and get it in significantly less time.”

Consumer Reports cautions that, “Before hot-swapping Tesla batteries becomes a reality, questions remain about who will own the batteries, and how differences in the quality or capability of different batteries would be handled.”

Right now what’s for sure is that Tesla plans to triple its number of Supercharger stations within the next six months to included additional stations in California, as well as expansion into states including: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 

Notable cities where new Supercharger stations are scheduled include: Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal, Seattle, Portland, Austin, and Dallas.

Tesla expects that, “A year from now, the Tesla Supercharger network will stretch across the continent, covering almost the entire population of the U.S. and Canada,” adding that, “The expansion of the network will mean that Model S drivers can take the ultimate road trip – whether that’s L.A. to New York, Vancouver to San Diego, or Montreal to Miami – without spending a cent on fuel.”

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