Story at a glance

  • The new Tesla Model 3 is the most energy efficient car Americans can buy.
  • Tesla’s new set of wheels gets the electric equivalent of 141 miles per gallon.

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric had a shining moment as the most efficient electric car sold in the U.S., but those days are gone. Now, the Tesla Model 3 reigns supreme, per the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly released mileage estimates for the Standard Range-Plus model. 

But how can the EPA calculate miles per gallon for a car that doesn’t run on gasoline? The answer is that they use what’s called a miles per gallon equivalent (mpge), which uses the distance the car can travel on the energy contained in one gallon of gasoline.

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric’s rule over this slightly obscure category (as opposed to the more highly touted maximum range on a full charge) was powered by its EPA mpge of 136. But the Korean automaker outfitted the car with a larger battery in its newest model. This increased its range from 124 miles to 170 and its horsepower from 118 to 134, but came at the cost of efficiency, which dropped to 133 mpge. 

These changes cleared the way for Tesla’s new electric vehicle to silently overtake the Ioniq. The Model 3’s mpge clocks in at 141, besting even the former champ’s total. If the numbers are sounding a bit esoteric, imagine for a moment a gas-powered car that got 141 miles to the gallon. 

All that efficiency comes at a premium: the new Model 3 Standard Range Plus starts at a little less than $40,000. For those looking for a bit more fiscal efficiency, the second place Ioniq Electric starts at $31,245.


Published on Nov 09, 2019