During an interview with Danish media, Elon Musk revealed that he estimates Tesla will be able to offer a model with a 600-plus-mile electric range by 2017.
Tesla’s CEO was attending the opening of Tesla’s first factory in Europe when he disclosed that, within a year or two, the EV automaker should have the right battery and powertrain technology to equip models for 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles per charge.
Now before you call it “game over” for the internal combustion engine, it’s worth noting that Musk’s 600-plus range claim was based on the fact that a Tesla Model S P85D just managed to travel 452 miles on a single charge by hovering at 24.2 miles per hour for its entire journey. Real-world range will be substantially less, but the point is this: range anxiety will slowly be less of an issue for electric vehicle consumers and prospects.
Beyond 2017, Musk also believes that a range of 745 miles will be possible by 2020, around the same time he claims Tesla will be selling 500,000 models each year. Musk also reiterated that Tesla’s Autopilot autonomous driving technologies are on schedule for rollout within the next couple years, though he doesn’t expect federal regulators will give the go-ahead for production until at least 2020.
What consumers should expect to be available soon is an automated passing function that could be part of Tesla vehicles by the end of this year. Other functions like lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic parallel parking — all features that are currently available on other automaker’s production vehicles — are currently in Beta testing and will be equipped on Model S and perhaps Model X vehicles by 2016.
“We don’t want to set the expectation that you can basically pay no attention to what the car is doing,” Musk said in a recent earnings call. That expectation probably won’t be fulfilled for several more years.