How Efficient Is The Tesla Model Y


How does the model Y efficiency compare to other electric SUVs?

Before we dive into the model Y efficiency numbers and comparisons, I want to take a moment to talk about why efficiency and electric vehicle are so important.

One of the first reasons why efficiency is so important in an electric vehicle is because of the energy density difference between gasoline, and batteries.

One gallon of gasoline or 3.79 liters weighs about 6 pounds and has the energy equivalence of 33.7-kilowatt hours.

If you were to take that same amount of energy in a battery, 33.7 kilowatt-hours and go with the average six points four kilograms per one kilowatt-hour, you’d find that that battery would weigh 475 pounds plus.

If an electric vehicle had about the same efficiency rating as the average car, of course, it would not be a viable product.

One of the best ways to illustrate just how efficient the model Y is to look at its battery size, versus how many gallons of gasoline that equals energy.

The model Y has a 74-kilowatt hour battery which is equivalent to about 2.2 gallons of gasoline, and actual energy potential. You can see just how efficient the model Y is compared to your average gas-burning vehicle.

Not only is energy density and the weight a big deal, but also charging speed is a big reason why an electric vehicle needs to be efficient.

When you take a vehicle to a gas station it doesn’t take very long to add 3 or 400 miles of range, but it takes a lot longer to add 3 or 400 miles of range to an electric vehicle.

Model Y Charging Speed

When we talk about charging speed a lot of times we talk about percentages, how long it takes to charge from 0% to 80%, or from 10 to 75%. The problem with that is you’re not comparing the actual miles gained per minute.

If you compare the very efficient model Y to some of the other vehicles and see how much battery capacity each one of these need to travel 315 miles, you’ll see that the model Y only needs four-kilowatt hours of battery to go 315 miles.

Whereas, the least efficient vehicle on this list needs 147 kilowatt hours of battery to go that same 315 miles. Since a model Y can travel 315 miles on about half of the battery capacity of the E-Tron.

It becomes very clear that it’s going to take a lot longer to add a hundred miles of range to the E-Tron, than it would the model Y.

Charging Speed

kWh Needed To Travel 315 Miles

Model Y74 kWh Needed
Model X90 kWh Needed
Mach E115 kWh Needed
iPace121 kWh Needed
E-Tron147 kWh Needed

Efficiency is directly related to the charging speed when you look at how many miles are added per minute of charging.

To illustrate just how efficient the model y is compared to its competitors, Tesla had this graph in its q4 2019 investor letter.

And it shows that the model Y all-wheel drive vehicle is much more efficient than the Jaguar iPace, the Mercedes EQC, the Ford Mach-E, and the Audi E-Tron.

This is comparing how many miles you can go per kilowatt hour of battery capacity. If you go to fuel economy.gov and compare some of these vehicles, you’ll also see that the mile per gallon equivalent of the Model Y is much higher than the rest of the competition.

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts the mile per gallon equivalent number is not the best way to measure the efficiency of an electric vehicle.

What you’re doing is you’re taking an old way to measure miles per gallon, and you’re trying to make it equivalent to an electric vehicle.

I believe the best way to measure the efficiency of an electric vehicle is either, look at the watt-hours consumed per mile, or to look at how many miles the vehicle can travel per kilowatt hour of battery capacity.

In the table below you can see that the model Y long-range all-wheel-drive variant with a 74-kilowatt-hour battery can go 316 miles, and only consumes 234 watt-hours per mile. And can travel 4.27 miles per kilowatt-hour of battery.

Whereas, the least efficient vehicle on this list, the Audi E-Tron, can only go 204 miles on its 95-kilowatt-hour battery pack. And consumes a massive 466-watt hour per mile and can only travel 2.1 five miles per kilowatt-hour.

The model Y is the clear leader and efficiency among these other electric SUVs, even when you include the very efficient Model X.

RankModelBatteryEPA RangeWh/MMi/kWh
1Model Y LR AWD74 kWh316 mi234 Wh4.27 mi
2Model X LR+ AAWD100 kWh351 mi285 Wh3.51 mi
3 Mach-E AWD98.8 kWh270 mi366 Wh2.73 mi
4Jaguar i-Pace90 kWh234 mi385 Wh2.6 mi
5Audi E-Tron95 kWh204 mi 466 Wh2.15

We’ve talked about some of the reasons why efficiency is important, but what it comes down to as well as the actual amount of money you’re going to spend in energy to power your vehicle.

Model Y Annual Running Costs

If you take a look at the annual energy cost between the model Y, the Jaguar i-pace and the Audi E-Tron, you’ll see that annually traveling 15,000 miles per year the model Y will cost you approximately five hundred and fifty dollars in electricity.

Whereas, the Jaguar iPace will cost you an additional three hundred dollars, and the Audi E-Tron would cost an additional three hundred and fifty dollars.

Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles fueleconomy.gov

ModelMPGe25 MilesAnnual
Model Y LR AWD (19″)121$0.91$550
Jaguar i-Pace76$1.44$850
Audi E-Tron74$1.48$900

Model Y Long Term Running Costs

If you compound that out to ten or fifteen years of ownership, even compared to other electric vehicles that are much more efficient than their gas-burning counterparts, you’ll see that it still has the potential to save you well over three to four thousand dollars in ten years.

These annual energy cost numbers, of course, become a lot more drastically different when you compare the model Y to other gas-burning SUV’s like the BMW X3, the Nissan Rogue, the Mercedes GLA 350 and other vehicles like that.

You’ll see from the table below that if you were to look at the 10-year ownership cost difference between these vehicles, you could be talking in ten to fifteen thousand dollars of savings in ten years driving the model Y, versus some of these other vehicles.

RankModelMPGe25 MilesAnnual
1Model Y LR AWD (19″)121$0.91$550
2Toyota Rav440$1.33$800
3 Nissan Rouge AWD27$1.96$1,200
4BMW X3 M40i AWD23$3.20$1,900
5Mercedes GLE350 AWD22$3.20$1,900

Now that we’ve discussed just how efficient the model Y is, especially compared to its competition both electric and gas burning, I want to talk about how Tesla achieved such great efficiency.

Model Y Vehicle Weight

One of the first ways Tesla was able to achieve great efficiency is by keeping the model Y very light. If you compare the model Y curb weight to some of its other competitors, you’ll see that the model Y curb weight of 4,416 pounds is the lowest on this list.

The Jaguar iPace as we talked about in a previous post is roughly the same size vehicle, but it weighs almost 300 pounds more. The heaviest vehicle on this list is the Audi E-Tron coming in at a whopping 5,843 pounds.

Curb Weight Comparison

RankModelBatteryCurb Weight
1Model Y LR AWD (19″)74 kWh4,416 lbs
2Jaguar i-Pace90 kWh4,702 lbs
3 Mustang Mach-E98.8 kWh4,890 lbs
4Model X LR+ AWD100 kWh5,631 lbs
5Audi E-Tron95 kWh5,843 lbs

Model Y Drag Coefficient

When it comes to any vehicle but an electric vehicle weight matters a lot because it takes more energy to move a heavy vehicle. Another big factor when it comes to the efficiency of a vehicle is the drag coefficient.

The drag coefficient measures how much air and wind resistance the vehicle encounters when it’s driving, the model Y on this list has the lowest coefficient of drag at just 0.23.

The Model X is the second-best on this list with a coefficient of drag of 0.25, the Audi E-Tron at 0.28, the Jaguar is at 0.29 and the Mustang Mach-E they have said it will be below 0.3.

RankModelDrag
1Model Y LR AWD (19″)0.23 Cd
2Model X LR+ AWD0.25 Cd
3 Audi E-Tron0.28 Cd
4Jaguar i-Pace0.29 Cd
5Mustang Mach-E<.30 Cd

With this low drag coefficient number, the model Y has a lot less wind resistance than its competitors, which allows it to travel further with less battery capacity. Another factor that allowed Tesla to engineer the model Y to be so efficient, was how efficient their drive trains and their motors are.

Model Y Drive Train Efficiency

According to fueleconomy.gov, the average gasoline-burning car has an efficiency of about 28 to 32 percent, this means that if you put 10 gallons of gasoline in a vehicle you’re wasting seven of the 10 gallons on heat and other losses.

Also according to fueleconomy.gov, the average electric motor has an efficiency of around 80%. According to an electric.com article the Tesla Model 3, and the Tesla Model Y drive system has an efficiency of around 97%.

The permanent magnet motors found in the model 3 and the Model Y are some of the most efficient motors in the electric vehicle space, and they waste very little energy leading to more efficiency and more miles per kilowatt-hour of battery.

Model Y Thermal Management System

One other efficiency improvement in the model Y is having a heat pump versus a resistive heating system in the rest of Tesla’s lineup. Green car reports had this to say in their article entitled “can heat pump solve cold-weather range loss for Eve’s”

Heat pumps aid efficiency because they move heat rather than generate it. SUV’S with heat pumps typically use a reversible setup to transfer thermal energy out of the cabin during hot weather functioning as an air conditioning compressor, and to bring thermal energy from power components or outside into the cabin in cold weather. According to Bosch, a heat pump drawing 1 kilowatt will generate the heat of between 2 and 3 kilowatts.

According to this data, a heat pump is 200 to 300 percent efficient, that’s some amazing technology and the Tesla model Y has that built-in.

One of the reasons that might lead to Tesla’s being so much more efficient than the other electric vehicles on the market, is its thermal management system for their batteries.

In April of 2019 courts put out an article entitled “Audi won’t say why the E-Tron has a big battery, but low range” and here’s a quote that I thought was important from that article.

Given it is Audi’s first electric car the company might be playing it safe with its thermal management system. It might be using up more energy to maintain a tighter temperature range for the batteries, and thus leaving less energy for driving

Tesla has had hundreds or even thousands of its cars driven for more than a hundred thousand miles, or about a hundred sixty thousand kilometers, the distance usually covered by an electric car battery warranty.

That means Tesla has had the time to optimize their thermal management system to use as little energy as possible while maintaining the battery’s performance”.

In Conclusion

If you take all these reasons that I’ve mentioned, and some of the reasons that we don’t even know about, it’s obvious to see why the Tesla Model Y is such an efficient vehicle.

With the Model Y, Tesla has set a new standard for efficiency, the model Y is not only capable and roomy, but it will be a great long-distance vehicle as well.

On top of all that the Model Y will save thousands of dollars in energy costs in its lifetime, and in my opinion, it is the best value Tesla has ever offered in a vehicle to date.

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