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Florida college professor breaks EV range record in Tesla Model S

It really happened: This driver went a whopping 423.5 miles in a single charge.

By Clifford Atiyeh Dec 13, 2012 12:22PM
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Tesla drivers should be able to travel 265 miles per charge in the top-level Model S. According to Tesla, they should hit 300 miles. But last weekend, a Florida college professor recorded the highest-ever range in an electric car: a whopping 423.5 miles without even draining the battery.

David Metcalf, a researcher at the University of Central Florida, decided to take his new Model S on a calculated adventure along the Panhandle. With his 12-year-old son Adam, Metcalf managed 17 nonstop hours before the dashboard flashed "Charge Now." It was a seemingly impossible feat that began as a cocky tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk in May, who promised prizes to the first 10 Model S drivers to exceed 400 miles per charge.

So far, Metcalf is the first and only.

"My professional training is in Information Systems, so my son and I approached the challenge the same way I would validation testing on any technical research project," Metcalf, 43, told MSN Autos. "This kept me mentally alert, as did having a good copilot, my son Adam."

Do the math and you realize there's a big caveat to this story: Metcalf averaged 25 mph. For 17 straight hours.

"We planned the route very carefully to avoid all interstates and stay on slow roads most of the time," he said. "People did pass us and some stretches were four lanes, but we had 7.5 hours where we only saw 20 cars. This was through the central and south parts of wild Florida including the Everglades and other wildlife parks."

UCF professor David Metcalf and his Tesla Model S (c) UCFDavid Metcalf poses with his record-setting Model S. (UCF)

Unlike most hypermilers, Metcalf and his son didn't suffocate themselves to break the record, as Florida winters, especially at night, are actually tolerable without air conditioning.

The excruciatingly slow speeds and agonizing hours circling southern Florida didn't bother Metcalf one bit. Basically, the man doesn't have to sleep. In 2011, he ran a 100-mile ultra marathon that took him more than 26 hours to finish. In between training, he surfs.

Metcalf's Model S wasn't exhausted, either. To be safe, he called for a tow from AAA, but the car was still running with the A/C and radio for 45 minutes while they waited. Metcalf says he didn't want to risk ruining the battery by completely draining it.

Currently, Guinness World Records is validating his trip. The previous record was set in Australia three years ago with a Tesla Roadster, which topped 313 miles on a single charge.

While Musk has been silent on the prize (it will be revealed next week), Metcalf doesn't care. He's donating whatever money might be at hand to the university and its Haiti relief efforts.
Dec 13, 2012 2:49PM

Some of you guys are way to critical of this story.  This was a challenge, jus to see if it could be done.  And they succeeded.  No one expects the Model S to be able to go 400 miles on a single charge driving it in normal every day conditions, nor do we expect one to tow an 18k lb trailer. Get a grip!


Electric cars are intended for city driving and to be charged nightly, we all know this.  Congratulations to Mr. Metcalf and his son, what an awesome thing to accomplish as a family.

Dec 13, 2012 1:58PM
Dec 13, 2012 2:49PM
I understand $97,000 seems like a bunch of cash......Just remember that 50 inch Plasma TVs once were $10,000 .... now they are $1,500 .... as tech improves the price will come down on this also
Dec 13, 2012 3:27PM
BUY AMERICAN if you want are children to have a future. We must make things here,Grow it here and Drill Here. Stop funding the enemy Comi Red China and exporting are future, STOP THE MADNESS,,,,,Stop NAFTA,  CAFTA  and SHAFTA.........BUY AMERICAN for GODS sake.
Dec 13, 2012 2:09PM
Wish I could afford one, the top model costs $97,500.   I would save $150 a month in gas, no gas required with Tesla.
Dec 13, 2012 2:18PM
Impressive but geeze..... 25mph average.   Cue the Sammy Hagar....... I cant drive ........55.....
Dec 13, 2012 2:14PM

17 hours at 25 mph- was that the $50,000 model or the $70,000 one? A horse makes more sense. Saddle sores standard! 


Dec 13, 2012 2:11PM


Now tell us how many miles you can really go driving like a normal person.  I don't see the logic in having a high priced car  that you have to stay off interstates and drive 25mph in just to get a flawed 400 mile range in.  Put that car in everyday traffic, bumper to bumper start and stops, and driving at normal speeds, that thing would not get anywhere near 400 miles on a charge. 

Dec 13, 2012 2:11PM
the electricity that powers electric cars comes from stationary power plants which create measureable pollutants that per mile  than fossil fuel vehicles.. Electric cars are fuel by coal, petroleum, and nuclear energy. The batteries manufacturing process creates more down stream waste than manufacturing of internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels.
Dec 13, 2012 3:16PM
this must have been like the O J  car chase
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