Tesla Model Y with 800km range in testing, report claims


Tesla is preparing to nearly double the driving range of its mid-size SUV, according to an unsubstantiated report overseas.

Alex Misoyannis


The Tesla Model Y electric SUV may be upgraded with more than 800km of driving range thanks to new battery cells, an unverified overseas report claims.

Twitter user DoctorJack16 (via The Driven) – who says they “share knowledge” on Tesla and Elon Musk – claims special Model Y prototypes with new ‘4680’ battery cells are “currently being driven by Tesla employees with a 500-mile [804km] range”.

The user did not name the source, merely citing “a little birdie [sic]” – and the report is yet to be verified – though subsequent Twitter messages hinted it was a Tesla source who had seen the prototypes.

If the claim is true – and the prototype powertrain made it into a production car – the Tesla Model Y would offer more range than any other mid-size electric SUV on sale today, approaching double the 455km (WLTP) claim of the entry-level, rear-drive Tesla Model Y in Australia.


It would also compete among the longest-range electric vehicles money can buy, exceeding the 604km (375mi) of the Tesla Model S Long Range – but just below the 837km (520mi) claim of the Lucid Air flagship sedan.

The driving range boost is reportedly made possible by the car’s battery cells (below) – named 4680 for their dimensions (46mm by 80mm) – claimed in 2020 to deliver five times the energy and six times the power of equivalent, previous-generation cells.

At the time, Tesla claimed the battery could deliver a theoretical increase in driving range of 54 per cent – which would push a Model Y Long Range AWD’s range claim from 533km to 820km.

These battery cells are already in use in Model Y SUVs built at Tesla’s Texas factory. However, the aforementioned Twitter user suggests “rumours about the temporary software locking of the true potential of the 4680 Model Ys [to artificially reduce their range] may be true”.

While the rumoured 800km range may be theoretically possible, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously poured cold water on electric car driving ranges beyond 400 miles (644km), arguing that figure is “more than almost anyone will use”.

“We could’ve made a 600-mile [966km] Model S 12 months ago [in 2021], but that would’ve made the product worse in my opinion, as 99.9 per cent of time you’d be carrying unneeded battery mass, which makes acceleration, handling and efficiency worse,” Musk said in a Tweet quoted by Electrek.

“Even our 400+ mile [644km] range car is more than almost anyone will use.

“What we are seeing is that once you have a range above 400 miles, more range doesn’t really matter. There are essentially zero trips above 400 miles where the driver doesn’t need to stop for restroom, food, coffee, etc. anyway.”

Other replies on the original 800km Model Y post on Twitter questioned the validity of the rumour – as well as if the long-range battery would ever make it beyond the prototype phase.

The Tesla Model Y is currently offered in Australia in a choice of two variants: a rear-drive base model with a 62kWh battery and 455km of claimed WLTP range, or an all-wheel-drive Performance with an 82kWh battery and 514km of range.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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