we had access to the real powers of the Tesla

Since 2015, Tesla has chosen to no longer communicate the power of its cars, making the values ​​a secret. But the editorial staff was able to have exclusive access to all the approved powers of Tesla. And there are surprises!

We are in 2015. Wanting to aim ever higher and ever stronger, Tesla rolled out the Model S P85D. A high-performance version, which promises 691 hp, or 700 hp in our measurement system. It is the general panic in the press and among enthusiasts of automotive performance. But from the first tests, something was wrong with the lap times.

This is what I was able to experience in the context of a test by measuring, for the purposes of a report, the P85D against a 2005 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, which was quite vitaminized. The technical sheet of the beast: more than 600 hp compressed, sent only to the rear wheels via a virile mechanical gearbox. Specificities at the antipodes of the Model S, which would make short work of it (700 hp on all four wheels with a couple available immediately). But nothing helps: at each 400 m DA, the Mustang takes the advantage! Faced with the times, we could envisage a power of around 500 hp. That is much less than the 700 horses announced.


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But impossible to be sure, the Model S refusing to take a lie detector on a hub bench. This was not the case on traditional chassis dynamometers, as several owners in the United States were able to do, who discovered the pot-au-rose: after several different tests using various methods, the collective estimated the power at 557 hp, or 564 hp with the battery at 100%. This would explain why the electric sedan was no match for an Audi RS7, as the owners have made it clear.

Tesla power, a well-kept secret

From then on, the technical director announced that it was above all a matter of confusion in the calculation method, which consisted of adding the power of the two engines. But our colleague Nicolas Meunier from Challenges magazine went even further, finally discovering that it was the battery that could not deliver more than 550 hp according to his rigorous observations. If the work of French journalists was not heard by Tesla, the brand nevertheless bowed to the conclusions of the owners and began to modify the way of announcing the power of its cars.

After multiple changes to its announcements, Palo Alto finally made the decision to cover its tracks and no longer directly communicate the official powers, except for the Plaid models (although the brand is showing some difficulties in terms of conversion, we will come back to this). It was also possible to find out the powers via the owner’s manuals, but this is no longer the case, except for the Tesla Model 3. In contrast, the American version of the document has no value. In short, the only solution to establish a hierarchy within the range? Obtain the Tesla homologation forms. What the editorial staff of Automobile Propre had the opportunity to do in total exclusivity after investigation.

These sheets, produced by the authorities, make it possible to find out about the approved powers of the cars, thermal or electric. If they are not necessarily real (sometimes more, sometimes less), the fact remains that these are perfectly official values ​​and rigorously announced by the manufacturers: we have taken care to check the data for 10 other cars and 5 combinations, which is more than enough to be sure of this information. As Ford indicates on its American site, this is the maximum power measured at the engine, with a battery at its best. This allows us to take stock of one of the little secrets of Tesla, and to understand certain inconsistencies.

Tesla Plaid: 1,020 hp, but not for everyone

And the first of them, and not the least, concerns the Tesla Model S Plaid, which is not afraid to display its power on the home page of the site. Only, the manufacturer forgot, voluntarily or not, to convert the values: the sedan cannot have both 1,020 hp and 1,020 hp, as shown on the US and FR sites. Either the 1,020 hp equals 1,034 hp, or the Tesla Model S develops 1,006 hp. And it is this last value that is retained by the administration, as the documents in our possession reveal. A power which therefore corresponds well to 1,020 hp (750 kW) in our measurement system. The majority of Americans will not mourn 14 hp, except for the most picky, but the brand of Elon Musk has surprisingly not taken care to make the change, unlike the 0 to 100 km / h which has not not been forgotten.


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Even more surprising, the Tesla Model X Plaid would not have the same power, while it benefits from the same mechanical configuration as the eponymous sedan. Power retained? Some 938 hp (690 kW), a deficit of 82 hp! And if we thought first of all of a preliminary measurement (which can sometimes explain lower powers), the Model X was measured as a production vehicle after the Model S.

The difference is however much more measured, not to say insignificant, with the Long Autonomy versions. The Tesla Model S Long Range thus offers 671 hp (494 kW) exactly, or 9 hp less than our estimate. during its first trial in California. The equivalent Model X tops out at 669 hp. This therefore corresponds to the 670 hp precisely announced at the bottom of the model’s presentation page on the brand’s website.

It’s a little more complex with the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y

But it is not the only SUV to present less power than its sedan counterpart. This is also the case with the Tesla Model Y Performance, which we were able to test recently. as part of the Clean Automobile Supertest. When exercising on replays (2.6s at its best in Sport mode), the American SUV did almost as well as le Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, heavier and less powerful. Admittedly, the torque values ​​should not be ignored here, but still. And on closer inspection, this Performance version would only output 424 hp (312 kW) from its four-wheel drive. This corresponds to 29 hp more than the Long Autonomy version (395 hp), also equipped with two electric motors and the same battery.

Opposite, the Tesla Model 3 Performance is credited with 436 hp (321 kW). Which is equivalent here to 38 hp more than the Tesla Model 3 Grande Autonomie, and its 398 hp, also in its latest approved version (model year 2022). This is 51 hp and 58 hp less respectively than the 2020 models. The Tesla Model 3 SR+, on the other hand, went from 286 hp to 269 hp (198 kW) with its last vintage.

Here are the powers of all the Teslas in the range, as they should be displayed on the plates if Tesla decided to communicate them officially. But it should be noted that they are only indicative, and only reflect those measured by the administration. If this is less the case with the Model S / X, remember that the Model 3 / Y can have different engines according to production needs. In addition, note that the battery used (and in particular its chemistry), which depends on the place of production, can vary the final power.

The powers of the electric ones can vary

As things stand, it’s hard to say that a Tesla Model 3 can make exactly the same power as its neighbor. This is not always the case with thermal engines, so with electric ones… Because let’s remember that different factors can influence the power available. Ford points out, for example, that the results observed by curious owners may vary. Volkswagen plays the card of transparency on the press releases provided during press presentations. During our handling of the Volkswagen ID.5 GTX (299 hp), we could thus read at the bottom of the page: “The power available in a given driving situation depends on variable factors such as outside temperature, level of charge, conditioning and physical aging of the high-voltage battery. So that the maximum power be available (299 ch/220 kW NDLR)the temperature of the high-voltage battery must in particular be between 23 and 50°C and it must be charged to more than 88%”.

The fact remains that the Tesla have this tendency to admit a little more power “than announced”. This is the case for example of the Model Y Performance, capable of developing more than 500 hp on a bench. A Model S Plaid even had the opportunity to produce 1,116 hp (1,101 hp), on the same type of hub test bench. That is a power surplus of 10 to 20% compared to the homologation sheets. This explains the results obtained with the 2015 Tesla Model S P85D, then officially credited with… 455 hp according to these documents.