Tesla: Our Owner Base Drives in Excess of 700,000 Miles Per Day

DEC 10 2013 BY MARK KANE 42

Model S battery pack

Model S battery pack

Tesla Motors recently Tweeted that:

“Our owner base is now driving in excess of 700,000 miles per day in over 20 countries.”

The question is what can we extract from this information?

Tesla to date delivered over 20,000 vehicles, but we believe it’s still less than 25,000 even with Roadsters. This works out to ~30 miles a day and 900 miles a month on average then.

900 miles a month for a vehicle that has real world range of well over 200 miles (85 kWh version) is equivalent to full charging 4-5 times a month. This basically means that range anxiety doesn’t exist. Tesla owners just don’t drive enough to have to worry about range problems – at least the average owner doesn’t. Of course, long journeys still need the Supercharging infrastructure.

The second thought is that the longer range for Tesla vehicles just isn’t needed. Tesla Motors already stated it thinks that 85 kWh is enough and have noted that it didn’t utilize the full battery pack space. With – let’s say – 100 kWh. the Model S car would just be pricier, heavier and with slower acceleration. The truth is that another 50 miles of range for the Model S isn’t as important as an additional 50 miles of range for the vast group of 70-mile EVs out there.

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42 Comments on "Tesla: Our Owner Base Drives in Excess of 700,000 Miles Per Day"

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I can definitely agree with the statement:

“The truth is that another 50 miles of range for the Model S isn’t as important as an additional 50 miles of range for the vast group of 70-mile EVs out there.”

Adding 50 miles to the Model-S would add very little value. But adding 50 miles to a Nissan Leaf would be a HUGE deal.

That would make sense in that the Nissan Leaf really needs it more then the Tesla in that if the Nissan Leaf did gain another 50 miles it would open up several different levels of long commuters who could use it or to people who need to drive 60 to 70 miles a day to use it.

As for the Tesla if there is any type of battery break though that raises energy capacity by 10% or 20% they could use that to make the batteries less heavy or could use it to drop the weight of the pack by 10% and raise the range by 10% under the existing system. The Nissan leaf and it’s friends need all the battery capacity they can get.

I think “opening up long commutes” with Leaf-like cars extending from 70ish to 120ish mile range, is a distant 4th after the following 3:

1. People’s perception of range
2. Ability to do most day-trips and a sizable chunk of road-trips with it, obviating the need for a 2nd car or frequent rental/borrowing for many people
3. True 4-season all-weather performance, as the present-day Leaf really chokes on its range in very cold and very hot conditions.

We have a lot of people in my area who will work a minimum wage job and drive 40 to 60 miles to get there which leaves me wondering about how much their income is spent on gas to support the minimum wage job. These same people I have talked to about EV’s they are open to the idea of paying 1/4 the cost of gas and not having to have oil changes but the pro berm they have is the range in that the car would have to drive to work and back without needing to recharge.


I guess the relative importance of each use case depends on where you live. Around Seattle if your commute is 40-60 miles one way, in 99% of the cases you better hop on some train or bus, b/c you’ll die in the traffic jams trying to get there (besides the gas cost)

I respectfully disagree. When I bought Leaf 2 months ago, I thought that a 70 AER was plenty in as much as my commute to work was only 20 miles round trip. My top priority by far would be more range. To begin with, you are only allowed to charge it to 80% most of the time to preserve the battery. Then on top of that, you have to reserve 20 miles or so just because you NEVER want to run out of juice. Yesterday , I left the house with a 70 mile indicated range after a 80% charge overnight. Ten miles later when I arrived at work it had indicated range of 42 miles. Granted it was -8F degrees outside. After work, I drove another ten miles home and arrived with 29 miles indicated range. I have driven 20 miles – how be it in the cold – and only have 9 mile range left before I start getting serious range anxiety. I am completely convinced now that my next car needs a 200 mile AER. At that point my daily commutes would never entail any range anxiety while enabling a trip to see the grandkids with only… Read more »

Sounds like you need an EREV. BMW i3 or Chevy Volt will allow you that 80% and expand your other driving needs. No more range anxiety… ever.

I switch to 100% charging in the winter. Use end time charging timer, that combined with the cold weather means it’s unlikely to have any significant impact on battery life.


Yes, the cold seems to sap away EV performance.

But beyond that, your experience fits under #1 in my list.

You wouldn’t feel nearly as anxious with 30 miles remaining in an ICE vehicle, would you?

And surely not with 40% of the gas tank remaining (which is what you had when you returned home with 29 miles left).

The experience is just new to you. It’s going to be all right.
Some EV drivers get into teens or even single-digits on their “miles remaining” display, on a regular basis. After all, that’s what the car is designed to do.

All you need to know is where your charging destination is (usually home, right?) and possibly the fall-back options if you can’t get there (DC QC, what’s the cost? 15-20 minutes and maybe a few bucks).

The simple extraction would be this. Assuming the average full-size car gets 25 mpg, 700,000 miles per day means that Tesla drivers are not burning 28,000 gallons of gasoline. At $3.50 a gallon Tesla drivers are collectively saving $98,000 a day. This means that the oil industry is not making a bug chunk of that in revenue and the government is not collecting the remainder in gasoline taxes.

Don’t get fooled by averages. There could be a bunch of rich guys with 10 cars and one of them is a Model S. He would only put 2 miles a month on it. On the other hand, you could have people who put 100 miles/day on it. You need a distribution curve to see what daily mileage is really like. I’m guessing it’s not too different from all the other cars in the world.

Nah, the Tesla #s are large enough so that the average is probably fairly representative.

I agree the distribution is surely skewed, but it won’t be a “10 guys with 2 miles and 3 guys with 100 miles” type of skew. Just doesn’t add up in terms of real-life usage.

I won’t be surprised if the 1st and 3rd quartiles are, say, at 15 and 50 miles/day respectively.

In comparison, ” Volt drivers put on about 760 all-electric miles a month (or about three-quarters of their total, the rest being powered by the car’s on-board gas-powered generator), while drivers of the all-electric Leaf put on about 630 miles a month. So despite the fact that the Volt’s electric range is about half of the Leaf’s 76-mile single-charge range, Volt drivers actually drove about 20 percent more miles on electrons. The average Volt driver went 41 miles per day when the vehicle was driven (74.6 percent of that, 30.5 miles, on battery power) while the average Leaf driver went 29.5 miles.”

Volt has a different approach, but the battery-pack appears right-sized and range-anxiety is also non-existent.

Choices, choices, choices for the consumer.

According to my data collection, the Volt fleet averages 40 million total miles per month. There are 52,000 Volts on the road. So that’s 770 miles/month. Now this is only looking at Volt’s registered with OnStar. And I would have to weight the averages with the sales because each month the amount of Volt’s on the road changes by ~2000 vehicles. So I’d say the study results correlate pretty well w/my data.

As I pointed out in a previous article, that math is actually wrong (just look at the 30.5 electric miles/day figure for the Volt vs 29.5 miles for the Leaf; that’s clearly not a 20% difference). There is a negligible difference in the electric range between the two in the cars surveyed (esp. if you look at previous quarters too).

However, compared to the Leaf, the Volt’s pack is optimal sized. But that does not tell you much about EVs in general (for example what happens if you move beyond the 100 miles UDDS that most compliance EVs aim for). It’ll be interesting to see an actual survey of Model S (this number kind of hides things without knowing the actual vehicle average rather than a total average).

> The second thought is that the longer range for Tesla vehicles just isn’t needed. Tesla
>Motors already stated it thinks that 85 kWh is enough and have noted that it didn’t utilize the
>full battery pack space.

I still see some gaps there. Such as try and make a Yellowstone vacation. You can drive through Yellowstone, but not tour through it. I have family in Keokuk Iowa. I could make it down there and back to the charger, but not much room for driving without begging for power somewhere.
But we are getting MUCH closer. If I could afford one, it would ideal in most situations.

> I still see some gaps there. Such as try and make a Yellowstone vacation.

Not a lot of people buy a car according to the specs required for a Yellowstone vacation, which is usually a once-in-a-decade affair. You can always rent an adequate vehicle for such a trip.

The fact that people don’t use the range everyday doesn’t mean the car should not offer it. People will buy a vehicle with a certain list of destinations in mind and if some of them are out of reach it’s likely to be a no sale. That’s exactly why BEV aren’t taking off with the exception of Model S, being the only BEV with serious range that in combination with the Supercharger network will get you anywhere.

The Leaf is taking off quite nicely, thank you very much. It is currently constrained by production volume, not by demand. Even so, Leaf 2013 sales in the US are >2x from the 2012 levels, and it continually expands to new countries.

The fact is, when push comes to shove (and for most people buying/leasing a car is a shove) you take the most cost-effective solution that meets your needs.

What the post author points out is, that the 85 KWh option is such a solution only for a small fraction of potential Tesla S buyers. The reason it’s more popular has to do with vanity (e.g. sporty driving wants, etc.) and uncertainty about a new product.

“The Leaf is taking off quite nicely, thank you very much.”

Really? That sounds like revisionist history. Don’t you remember the sales projection that Carlos Ghosn made when the Leaf launched in 2010?

In 2010 Carlos Ghosn predicted that Nissan and Renault together would be selling 500,000 battery-electric cars a year by the start of 2014, and 1.5 million battery-electric vehicles by 2016.



The projections and prognostications of 2007-2010 were notoriously unrealistic, and didn’t take into account

1. The global economic crisis, even as it was rumbling in
2. Production-ramp challenges.

The fact is, Nissan 3 years after launch still cannot make more than some 50k Leafs/year in all its plants combined.
The fact is also, that whatever is made is sold quite nicely, and that the overall ramp of the Leaf is far better than the ramp of the Toyota Prius in its own Years 1-3.

But you have a point there, it didn’t meet the Disneyland predictions by the likes of Ghosn and Shai Agassi.

If a major automaker can’t ramp up production after 3 years in production, then it means 3 things:

1. It is stupid automaker who is incompetent in product planning. After 3 years, it still can’t figure it out.
2. It is LIE. It uses that as an excuse to explain the low sales number or doesn’t want to ramp up further to lose money per car.
3. It is a Marketing scheme (Apple likes to do that) to keep the supply restrained so people would feel that they need to get one.

Ask yourself that if sales was so good why did Nissan bother to decontent for 2013 model and keep the leasing price at $199?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

150 all-weather real miles, with superchargers every 100mi or so (including within major cities/endpoints), that’s what would get me to switch to a BEV.

ok, I guess it will take the rest of us to get you there…

Hey, another reason go to metric!

It sounds far more impressive to say that Tesla drivers combined drive 1.1 million km a day 🙂

3 more Superchargers online. 40 in total, now. (42 considering the 2 double ones). 18 under construction. http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger http://www.teslawiki.net/supercharger/ Longer range for the Teslas would mean lower density needed for the Superchargers. That is, if all the cars would have that longer range. But since the Supercharger network should fulfill even the needs of drivers driving the minimum 200-208 miles range cars, nothing would change for the Supercharger network. If you want to be able to get anywhere and come back (without charging at your destination, and without making the trip longer in order to reach a Supercharger), I think there should be a charger every about 60 miles, in all areas reached by roads – that being half the range a 208 miles car would get after recharging (80%) and considering a 10% loss of range over time and a 20% lower range in winter: 208 -> 187 -> 150 -> 120 -> 60 That is, 208 minus 10% (over time), then minus 20% (winter), then 80% of it (charger), than half of it (since you have to reach the place then drive back to the supercharger). That would not leave much room for driving about, but the Superchargers… Read more »

I think I greatly overestimated the range loss in winter.
What’s the likely range of a 208 miles Model S in winter?

Maybe 180 running the heater on energy save mode?? 170 in non energy save?? just a guess.

Alok, if winter range is a real problem, Tesla can offer ethanol burning auxiliary heater as an option. E.g. Volvo C30 electric already offers this as a option as it is designed by Swedes. Therefore range problem in cold climate is solvable problem.

Very good.
So, Nissan and other short range EV makers should also consider offering it. Isn’t it?

Actually, the Leaf is offered in Norway with a winter pack. Don’t know if it includes something like that.
Zoe is being equipped with a similar pack. They say that’s the reason for its delayed introduction in Norway.

The main thing wrong with the Tesla super chargers is that a sure you are with in a 200 mile range of one but the thing is what do you do if your driving route doesn’t take you anywhere near one. A example is say you are driving from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Harrisburg Pennsylvania you would mainly drive down Interstate 81 which according to Tesla be on the super charger map but in real life you would never come across a super charger unless they put a few in. As of now there are tens of thousands of places in the US that need a Tesla super charger and not simply hundreds. Also another thing that worries me is that Tesla has already put 20,000 cars on the road now that can use a super charger and there less then 50 now with a maximum of ten charging units at them. This means by next year when they build 40,000 cars that can use the super chargers them and the existing 20,000 are going to be fighting over the existing super chargers unless they start building 20 and 40 stall stations to take the pressure off… Read more »

With larger battery pack, Tesla is maybe heavier, but larger battery pack also enables more powerfull electric motor and faster supercharging speeds. Therefore there is definitely demand for 100–120 kWh models. Especially for those, who are professional drivers and actually need to drive long distances frequently.

Fully agree

Definitely bought a Volt as a car to USE.

Looking at all the pre-owned Tesla’s, with X00 to 10k miles on them doesn’t seem to jive with the idea that the average Model S is seeing 900 miles/month. If so, those who use their Tesla’s are polar opposites to who I believe are a greater number of drivers that barely touch them. For every 12k-20k offering I’ve seen, there has probably been ~8 cars with ~5k, or less.

Tesla has a curious disincentive to building superchargers, in that 85kwh cars eventually become less necessary for east/west coast drivers, and the 208 mile 60kwh car could become a 365 day vehicle, for many. I don’t see the problem of being among the folks who supercharge a few days a year. No big deal. Going >400 miles inland, by car where I couldn’t, is a once-a-decade thing, for me too.

We also may not consider how quickly the last Tesla S-chargers may be followed by other formats, at 50kw and up. Kudos to Musk for realizing alternative L3 doesnt’ look to be taking shape near his 90-135kw range “exclusive”.

” No big deal. Going >400 miles inland, by car where I couldn’t, is a once-a-decade thing, for me too.”

More like two or three times a year for me…….

I have an S85 and put 10K miles on it in the last 4 months. The 85kWh battery pack gives me all the range I need for 90% of my trips. I would not be interested in a bigger battery pack. What I am interested in is more SuperChargers. I am waiting for one more SC to be turned up and that will give me the range I need for 99% of my trips.

where would that be, Omar? Just curious. You can give an approximate answer 🙂

Northern California. I am waiting on the Vacaville SC. Its built, just waiting on PG&E to do their thing. I know we are spoiled on the West coast. 🙂

Once the nationwide SC network gets built out, its a game changer.


That is the perfect example of wrong assumption. It is like saying the average heart beat is 80 times per minute, so why bother make a heart that can beat 200 times per minute. The problem of course, is that you simply need it in case you are caught in a fire or another emergency where you have to run really hard. It is exactly the same with a car, most of the time you do average distances but sometimes you need to do much more. That is when 300 miles isn’t enough and you need 400 or 500 miles.

NYT stated that average Volt driver cover 40 miles per day (that is mostly electric). LEAF owners cover 30 miles per day. If Model S only covers 30 miles per day on average, then that is NOT all that.

Some of that Model S owners need to enjoy their cars more. If NOT, I will be gladly trade my Volt for their Model S in an exchange. =)

Oh, if you click on the link,,, the person who tried this experiement ran out of range with 94% charge and only 45 miles driving….

Nuff said there.