How does terrain affect Tesla range?


Terrain affects Tesla range by changing the energy demands on the EV battery, i.e., difficult terrains that require more power to navigate will decrease the range while easier terrains won’t impact or may even increase the range of the vehicle.

External factors can affect an EV’s range, including temperature, driving habits, speed, traffic, and terrain. Anything that requires the vehicle to use extra battery power - heating the cabin, hauling heavy cargo, etc. - will reduce maximum range.

Most drivers have an intuitive understanding of the way terrain affects their car. Going uphill is harder and takes more energy. Going downhill is easier and sometimes you even get a little boost from gravity. 

One study found that flat routes have 15% to 20% better fuel economy than hilly routes. No matter the incline, BEVs are more energy efficient than conventional vehicles.

Going downhill in an EV uses almost no energy thanks to regenerative braking, a technology that allows EVs to use recaptured kinetic energy from braking to charge their batteries. Some Tesla drivers have reported recapturing 15% to 32% of their energy use with regenerative braking. The net energy usage over a roundtrip ride will still use up range: uphill driving uses more battery power than going downhill can restore, even with a boost to the vehicle’s range.

Recurrent created a Real-World Range feature for Tesla drivers to help them understand what’s really going on with their battery. Real-World Range is what typically happens in day-to-day driving based on over 360,000 discharge sessions, covering over 20M miles, across nearly 10,000 Teslas. Recurrent’s estimate is based on how real people actually drive, not controlled lab tests in ideal conditions and optimistic advertising spins. To get the most accurate range prediction available, sign up for our free platform.

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