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2020 Tesla Model 3 beats Hyundai IONIQ to become most efficient EV produced

The 2020 EPA estimated ranges are out for both the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai IONIQ, and we have a new champion of efficiency. Hint: It’s not the car that looks like a glorified Prius, it’s the full-featured sedan with a snappy 0-60 time…

Hyundai has been the champion of the electric vehicle efficiency game since it debuted its IONIQ in 2016. That vehicle and subsequent model years had a 28 kWh battery from which Hyundai was able to squeeze an impressive 124 miles of range. That gave it a MPGe rating of 136 miles, which is above the 120-ish miles that compact BMW i3 and Chevy Bolts were able to achieve.

What is miles per gallon E or MPGe?

The ratings are based on EPA’s formula, in which 33.7 kilowatt-hours (121 megajoules) of electricity is equivalent to one (US) gallon of gasoline. So how far can the car go on 33.7kWh?  More from Wikipedia

This year, Hyundai updated the IONIQ battery 36% to 38.3kWh that yields a new 170 mile EPA-rated range. That should make its customers quite a bit happier and push it from compliance land to something that can do long commutes and short trips. The 170 EPA miles compares to the 183-mile WLTP standard used in Europe, and about what we had guessed at the time. Unfortunately for Hyundai, that increased battery and slight design refresh seems to have pushed its MPGe rating down slightly to 133 MPGe, where Tesla’s Model 3… was.

Tesla efficiency

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus debuted with a 133 MPGe with its 240-mile range, and that continued through to the 2019 Model year. Tesla doesn’t do model years like most makers, however, as it continuously updates its cars for efficiencies and additional features. The EPA just takes one snapshot per year, and 2020 just dropped.

Tesla’s website was updated three weeks ago, showing 250 miles, and with the results out today from the EPA, it looks like that was enough to push Tesla to an incredible 141 MPGe combined, or only 24kWh of battery to travel 100 miles. That not only beats this year’s bigger IONIQ, it beats the all-time champ, the 2017-2019.

Let’s think about what that means: A Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus can go 141 miles on the amount of energy contained in one gallon of gasoline! That is almost three times the distance a Prius can travel.

That previous IONIQ still holds the city driving crown with a very impressive 150 MPGe. That makes it just a slight bit more efficient than the 148 city miles the 2020 Model 3 gets. The Model 3, however, really cleans up on the highway with its extremely low coefficient of drag at higher speeds hitting 132 MPGe versus 121 for the IONIQ.

Electrek’s Take

Take a bow, Tesla engineers and designers.

That’s incredible efficiency for an electric sedan, and it is blowing even the subcompacts and Prius-type electric vehicles out of the water. How do they do it? By continuously improving the car in little bits — the weight, the motors, the efficiency all around — Tesla is eking out more and more miles out of the same batteries.

That gives it a huge advantage over the deluge of traditional automakers building their first few generations of electric cars. To get 250 miles of range, Audi and Jaguar would need over 100 kWh of battery in its e-tron and I-Pace, while Tesla can do it with much less.

If it takes Tesla 20% fewer batteries to make a 250-mile vehicle, that is a 20% cost savings versus other makers. In addition to cost savings, Tesla vehicles are going to be lighter because of the smaller packs for vehicles with the same range.

It isn’t clear from the EPA if you can go back and retest the 2019 Tesla Model 3s after getting the efficiency updates to see if they also come close to these numbers.

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Tesla Model 3 mattress
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Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites. Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt owner…5 ebikes and counting