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Should I display range, or percent?

Which do you use?

  • Distance (miles, kilometers)

    Votes: 32 29.4%
  • Energy (percentage)

    Votes: 68 62.4%
  • Either, depending on circumstances

    Votes: 9 8.3%

  • Total voters
    109

camalaio

Active Member
May 28, 2019
1,483
2,095
Vernon, BC, Canada
Since many threads are rabbit-trailing into this discussion, let's have a thread for it!

Addressing the Facts
The way Tesla displays percentage ("energy") is as follows:
  • Percentage displayed is the percentage of usable battery capacity.
  • As the battery degrades, the percentage does not change.
  • As the battery degrades, the amount of percentage consumed for a given amount of energy increases.
That is, percentage is always relative to the capacity of your pack. If you have a 50% degraded battery, it will still say 100% even though it could only take you half as far. You consume percent faster as the battery ages.

The way Tesla displays rated range ("distance") is as follows:
  • Range displayed is based on the usable energy in rated conditions.
  • As the battery degrades, the rated range declines.
  • As the battery degrades, the amount of rated range consumed does not change.
That is, rated range has equivalence to energy capacity. If you have a 50% degraded battery, the displayed rated range will be half of when it was new. Rated range is not consumed any faster as the battery ages, but there is less available.

Which should I pick?
Just pick whichever one is the lesser evil for you. There is no absolute right answer, despite what folks on here might suggest.

Distance lies to you only if you treat it as achievable in all circumstances. You need to be aware this is rated range, not estimated range. See this thread if you want way more discussion on this.

Distance might make you feel bad because it makes degradation apparent. It's more honest, but maybe ignorance is bliss for you.

Distance could be more useful for trip estimation, simply because distance is a familiar unit in the context of driving (even if you do need to make some corrections for efficiency based on road conditions and speed).

Percentage lies to you about degradation. 100% is always possible. In fact, if the battery reports a now-lower capacity while sitting, you might see this as an increase in percentage after the correction was made, even though less energy is estimated to be available.

Percentage is great for those that are persnickety over their state of charge for battery health. Guidance on things like "charge to 80%" are easier to achieve accurately this way. You can't do this with range, because the rated range displayed at whatever 80% is will change as the battery ages.

Other Factors
During Charging
For Level 2 AC charging, they behave very differently.
  • Distance: Shows you energy actually being added in terms of mph or km/h, after accounting for losses, climate control, etc. Net power, basically.
  • Energy: Shows you input power in terms of kW, not net power to the battery. Effectively, this shows gross power.
I cannot recall Distance works for Level 3. But interestingly, Energy does display net power for Level 3 DC charging (Supercharger/CHAdeMO/CCS).

Accuracy
The UI gives you more significant figures with Distance, which is kind of nice for people that keep a log of their data.

However, this can be worked around by using the trip meter.

Discuss!
And here it is, the moment you've been waiting for. Tell everyone your opinions. I got my chance, the opportunity is now yours!
 

GtiMart

Member
Nov 13, 2019
854
696
Quebec City, Canada
Right on. I think I would like kWh but it's not available :) I prefer rated range because I find that simpler to "translate" to real distance than percentage. In summer I add ~25%, in winter I add 50-100% and I know I'm good. For real trips I use ABRP which gives good results.
 

HenryT

Member
Jan 29, 2020
558
451
Manchester
You’re correct, it’s a personal preference setting and there is no right or wrong answer. Every ICE car I’ve ever owned has used percentage (e.g. 3/4 tank) instead of miles left, so I’m fine staying with what’s comfortable for me.

Whilst more or less all ICE cars do show fuel reserve as a percentage or a graphical illustration of a proportion, a lot also show estimated range in miles/klms remaining too.

I do remember my frustration though running out of fuel in a BMW 330 which was still reporting 12 miles of range remaining. A lesson learned.
 
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cypho

Member
Dec 20, 2018
776
915
USA
I wish there was an option to remove the battery gauge all together. I just want a pop-up warning when the car believes (based on actual usage rather than rated range) it has insufficient charge to get home with a 20% buffer.

I can drive around town all day and never drop below 50% so in either configuration, most of the time, the battery gauge serves no purpose other than to cause anxiety.

A popup at distance-to-home + 20% will give more than enough warning to avoid getting stuck. Once it pops up I know that I either need to head home soon, or start planning for where I will charge.
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,008
Delaware
Whilst more or less all ICE cars do show fuel reserve as a percentage or a graphical illustration of a proportion, a lot also show estimated range in miles/klms remaining too.

I do remember my frustration though running out of fuel in a BMW 330 which was still reporting 12 miles of range remaining. A lesson learned.

That’s probably why my VW and GM cars stopped showing a number with about a gallon left and just displayed “Low” with all kinds of refuel now panic lights. The GM even offered to display nearby gas stations on the Navigation.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
8,832
9,799
Riverside Co. CA
I use miles (not percent) because I have been displaying "miles to empty" in my cars for over a decade, so thats what I am used to. My cars previous to tesla all had both an analog (or digital) fuel gauge, but also a setting somewhere where i could display "miles to empty" and I always used that more than the analog gauge.

I just dont pay a lot of attention to the actual number next to the battery gauge, other than to use it as an approximation, which is all I need
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
8,778
7,600
Visalia, CA
...If you have a 50% degraded battery, it will still say 100% even though it could only take you half as far...

That is a very valid point!

...Distance lies to you only if you treat it as achievable in all circumstances...

I have no problem with distance lies because I learned that quickly with my first drive. I can only achieve rated miles if I watch and modify my driving habit.

I've been driven 3 different Tesla and each 100% has its own range so it's very confusing to use percentage to figure out whether I can reach the next charging station.
 
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Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,008
Delaware
That is a very valid point!



I have no problem with distance lies because I learned that quickly with my first drive. I can only achieve rated miles if I watch and modify my driving habit.

I've been driven 3 different Tesla and each 100% has its own range so it's very confusing to use percentage to figure out whether I can reach the next charging station.

I don’t use either one for figuring that out. I plug the charging station into the Nav and use the percentage at arrival calculation it displays instead.
 
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drtimhill

Active Member
Apr 25, 2019
1,741
2,119
Seattle
My opinion is that, if you think about the top post (which is a great post btw!), then its basically saying what I've always felt:

The "battery" indicator is just reminding you, in a very approximate sense, how you need to plan ahead for charging.

That's all it does, which makes it pretty much like a crude ICE gas tank empty/full gauge. If you really want to monitor actual car usage, look at the Energy screen or the odometer cards.
 

hgmichna

Member
Jun 17, 2020
283
216
Germany
I have no problem with distance lies

To be precise, there are no distance lies. The distance that the Tesla displays is just calculated for a relatively low speed, I think, around 90 km/h = 56 mph. If you need to cover that distance, drive that speed, or less to allow for air conditioning, rain, headwind, etc.
 
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Michelle_eriw

Member
Jun 9, 2020
545
317
USA
Whilst more or less all ICE cars do show fuel reserve as a percentage or a graphical illustration of a proportion, a lot also show estimated range in miles/klms remaining too.

I do remember my frustration though running out of fuel in a BMW 330 which was still reporting 12 miles of range remaining. A lesson learned.
My PHEV shows battery charge and gas remaining on vertical scales. It also shows estimated remaining mileage for both hybrid and EV, e.g., 165+25EV
 

Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
1,668
1,070
Syracuse, NY
That is a very valid point!



I have no problem with distance lies because I learned that quickly with my first drive. I can only achieve rated miles if I watch and modify my driving habit.

I've been driven 3 different Tesla and each 100% has its own range so it's very confusing to use percentage to figure out whether I can reach the next charging station.

That's a valid point because that how battery meters work... or gas gauges work... Does your phone tell you how many hours of screen time it has left to the battery? NO. It tells you the percentage of energy left in your battery. If your phone only last 3 hours after 2 years of use, it will still show 100% when you fully charge it. I don't know why people are suddenly surprised or don't feel the percentage meter is 'good enough'. It's been a few decades of this in portable electronic devices.

Telsa will never put the Kwh for the battery meter (even though it's probably the best of both worlds) because they already hide the battery size in the newer cars. People have estimated that the total usable energy is around 73KWh out of a 75KWh battery but Telsa has never stated that, so they are not going to put 73KWh as the full charge in the battery meter.
 
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