Tesla Model 3 Review: Great Car, Ridiculous Claimed Range

Tesla Model 3 review

My boss, Finn, gave me a nice little Christmas present this year.  A Tesla Model 3 electric car…

…rental. 

For two days, I drove Tesla’s most affordable car around South Australia’s grape squishing district.  I can now say, of all the EVs I’ve tried, the Model 3 is my favourite. 

Over a year ago I reviewed the Tesla S.  That’s one hell of a sports car.  It has everything the Model 3 does but more.  Unfortunately, that includes more expense, and I couldn’t afford a car like that in a month of paydays.  Even if I had the money, I couldn’t in good conscience buy a car that costs over one-eighth as much as a typical Sydney house.  Not when there are still people in the world without one-eighth of a Sydney house.  But the Model 3 is something I could see myself owning in a few years, provided:

  • I can get it second-hand and
  • I suffer moderate damage to the budget centres of my brain.

I’ve also driven an Electric Mini.  That was a lot of fun and more affordable but — in my not at all humble opinion — the Model 3’s larger size and longer range put it ahead. 

I rented through a site called Evee, a convenient way to try an electric car if you’re on the fence about buying one.  

Before I tell you the details of my road trip, I’ll present some of the Tesla Model 3’s impressive technical specs…

Tech Specs

After returning from my epic journey, the first thing I did was rush to the internet to check the Tesla Australia site to see how much a Model 3 would set me back.  The answer was… too much: 

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

This is with the lowest cost options.  It’s a white Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which I’ll call a Model 3 SR+ to save time.  Apart from some minor differences that don’t really affect performance, this is the vehicle I drove. 

But this particular version of the Model 3 SR+ is no longer available.  Just two days ago, Tesla changed what appears on their site.  The Model 3 SR+ now on offer is made in China rather than the US, and they claim its range is slightly better:

The other figures they give are exactly the same, including the price. 

Chinese Tesla Model 3 SR+ Battery

The US-made Model 3 SR+ had a 54 kilowatt-hour battery.  The Chinese version may be slightly larger, giving it an extra 18 km of claimed range.  It’s also possible the made in China one is slightly more efficient. 

The new version has a lithium iron phosphate battery, which is cheaper than the NCA one used in the US version.  According to this, it doesn’t perform as well in cold weather.  This may be why they’re flogging it in Australia.  Hopefully, poor cold-weather performance won’t be a significant problem here.

Currently, the Model 3 SR+ is the only Tesla vehicle with a lithium iron phosphate battery.

Price

Registration costs can be a little higher in other states, so it’s fair to say Australians can get a Tesla Model 3 for around $72,000.   This is low enough to avoid the Luxury Car Tax, which now kicks in above $77,565 for electric cars and fuel-efficient hybrids. 

The Model 3 is not what I call cheap, but there are plenty of loaded people happy to spend $60,000 or more on a new car, and I’m happy to recommend the Model 3 to them because of its high performance and low operating cost.  The fact electric cars can help preserve a planet where money continues to have meaning is an important bonus. 

Top Speed

I didn’t find out if the Model 3 SR+  could reach its top speed of 225 km/h because I am morally opposed to putting lives at risk through personal idiocy.  Fortunately, lunatics on German autobahns are more than happy to pick up the slack and post videos showing it has no trouble reaching its top speed even if the steering wheel is on the wrong side:

Acceleration

The Tesla Model 3 SR+ takes off like a rocket.  Admittedly, like a rocket that’s slower than most, doesn’t fly, and travels on wheels.  But it still has great acceleration compared to most cars on the road.

When I reviewed the Tesla S, I was able to honestly say nothing in its price range comes anywhere close to its performance. Still, there are petrol-powered cars with similar acceleration to the Model 3 SR+ available for roughly the same price.  This doesn’t mean you should get one of them if you want high performance.  Due to the way electric motors work, the acceleration from 0-60 is outstanding, and that’s the range most important to revheads who still have a license.  Also, some of those high acceleration petrol-powered cars cheat by being hybrids that also have electric motors.

After you stomp on the Model 3 accelerator, there’s a very brief delay, and then it takes off with powerful acceleration that’s very smooth because there are no gears to change. 

Range

The range is fine.  When I reviewed the much shorter range of Electric Mini, I tried to point out that even if a total idiot heads out on a long day trip without knowing where public chargers are or even how to use them, it’s still fine.  But some people took it the wrong way and thought I was saying its range wasn’t nearly enough.  The Model 3 SR+ has much more range than the Electric Mini and can charge faster so — for the majority of drivers — range won’t be a problem. 

Unfortunately, the 490 km range Tesla was giving for the Model 3 SR+ on their Australian site until a few days ago is absolute bullshit.

They say it’s an estimate, but that won’t protect them from my wrath.  They know exactly how far the average Model 3 SR+ travels on a full charge.  Every single Tesla car is a snitch that reports back to headquarters what you’re doing.  The suggestion that Tesla can only give an estimate of how far they go is ludicrous.

When I drove the Model 3 SR+, it told me my average energy consumption was 145 watt-hours per kilometre.  Since it has a 54 kilowatt-hour battery, that would come to a maximum of 372 km of range.  But when I got in, and its battery was at 95%, the car’s screen indicated it had 320 km of range.  So according to the car itself, it’s maximum range would be around 337 km with 100% charge. 

The car was a little under a year old, so battery capacity loss should have only been a few percent.  They may have tweaked the design since it was made to get a little extra mileage, but they’re not going to tweak an extra 100+ km without using a much larger battery. 

The Chinese made Model 3 SR+ now being sold may have a slightly larger battery, but its exact capacity remains to be seen.  Apparently, the Chinese version will tell people in China it can travel 420 km on a full charge, but that is still well short of the 508 km Tesla currently states on its Australian site.  There have also been complaints from China its range in cold weather is far less. 

Other Model 3s Go Faster & Further.

If you are absolutely loaded there are versions of the Model 3 with more range and even better acceleration that outclass any purely internal combustion engine vehicle that’s anywhere close to their price:

Tesla Model 3 Long Range and Performance EVs

While these two versions aren’t cheap, they are cheaper than the Tesla S sportscar which starts close to $142,000 and goes to $266,000.  Their range figures for these two Model 3s are also exaggerated.

Renting The Model 3 From Evee

Evee enables private owners to offer their electric vehicles for rent online in return for a 25% commission.  That seems steep to me, so maybe there’s room for competition in the market.  But note I’m an idiot who couldn’t run a business if it came with legs and a whip and I have no idea what it costs to operate an online car rental company.  

To register with Evee I had to supply a copy of my license.  It took around one business day to verify it, so don’t leave it until the last moment if you want to rent a car. 

When I first checked what they had available in Adelaide, I saw two Model 3s and decided to try the cheapest one.  But by the time I got around to renting, there had been an Adelaide Evee Model 3 price war and the other cost less.  I quickly booked it and revelled in the endorphin rush that comes from saving $20

Build Quality Is Good

When I saw the Model 3, I almost fell to my knees in shock.  It was so beautiful!  But it wasn’t the beauty that surprised me — it was the fact it didn’t look ugly up close.  I fully expected to feel a stabbing pain in my eyes due to imperfections from Tesla’s famously bad build quality. 

When Model 3s first came out, new owners posted videos of mutant mobiles looking like they were slapped together by former Trabant factory workers sacked for sloppiness.  Other Tesla cars have had similar problems.  I was given a ride in one of the first Model Xs to arrive in Australia and — after a lifetime of driving Japanese and Korean cars — I had no problem spotting multiple little imperfections that made it appear twisted alien geometries had been involved in its manufacture.  I was dumbfounded at how cheap the interior appeared in such an expensive vehicle.  If you ever want to abduct me, there’s no need to knock me out.  Just push me into the boot of an early run Model X, and I’ll pass out just from the poor weld quality in there. 

But after checking out this Model 3, I can now say — based on a sample of one — that Tesla can put a car together as well as anyone.  I’ve even heard vehicles produced in the new Chinese factory have excellent build quality because even American companies can learn from experience and incorporate improvements into a new factory.

Tesla Model 3 and wind turbines

The owner added the CB aerial. Maybe the increased wind resistance knocks a km off its range.

Interior & Styling Is Fine

When I got in the Model 3, I thought the interior looked fine, apart from the fact someone had stolen all the dials from the dash and hidden the crime with a wooden plank.  But it turns out that’s the way it’s meant to be.  All displays and auxiliary controls are on the large, central, touch-sensitive screen that’s like a giant smartphone.  There are no vents for air conditioning.  Instead, it all blows out from under the plank. 

I liked the simplicity, but it took me an hour or two to get used to looking left to check my speed instead of through the steering wheel, as you do in cars with dials there instead of termite feed.  Due to the time it took me to adjust, I think Tesla may be losing sales when people test drive it simply because it feels odd at first.  Perhaps they should have a little optional, removable, speedometer display they can stick in front of people taking it for a test drive.   

Tesla Model 3 interior

I didn’t take a good picture of the plank, so here’s a Tesla publicity photo that I flipped.

The Roof Is Glass

One unusual thing about the Tesla 3 is its roof is a big slab of glass.  Fortunately, the rental car owner was smart enough to put a cloth covering over the roof interior to keep the goddamn sun out.  A skylight with wheels may be nice in Norway, Newark, and Narnia but I think we can do without the extra heat here.  The glass is treated to block infrared, but 43% of sunlight energy is visible, and that’ll come straight through and warm the interior.  Especially if the upholstery is dark, which the cheapest option is. 

Tesla Model 3 Comfort

The Model 3 is a car made for Americans.  There’s plenty of room inside, and the seats are suitable for big behinds.  They can also be adjusted in various ways, and the car remembers how you like it.

Unlike the Tesla S, a sports car, you sit higher in the Model 3, which makes it much easier to get in and out of.  So if you are mobility impaired or fat enhanced a Model 3 is likely to be a better choice.  

The air conditioning is powerful, quiet, and effective.  Model 3s now come with a heat pump, preventing its range from dropping as much in cold weather.  This is a useful feature for Australians, even though we don’t have Norwegian style winters.  The heat pump may be essential now the Model 3 SR+ will come with a Chinese battery that may not like the cold.

Overall, I’d say the Tesla Model 3 is a very comfortable car especially if you don’t drive it.  When I did take it on the road, I found — just like the Tesla S — the ride isn’t quite as smooth as I’d expect from a car at its price point.  

The Journey Begins

The car’s owner’s name was Gottfried, and he was very helpful when I picked it up.  He explained its features, answered my questions, and took me for a little demonstration ride.  He also told me the rental period only began after the orientation, which was appreciated. 

I soon as I had the car to myself, I went to pick up my friend, the alluring and vivacious Vanessa.  But she is just a friend because we’re both half-Dutch.  We can never marry because we’d run the risk of one quarter of our children being born full Dutch and committing unspeakable horrors such as putting mayonnaise on chips, moving to Lake Eyre to live below sea level, and eating bananas upside down like chimpanzees. 

Ride Could Be Smoother

Our first destination was Port Wakefield, which was named back in the days before television, when an interesting field was enough to keep people awake.  On the way, Vanessa agreed the ride wasn’t as smooth as she expected for a $72,000 car.  There are a few reasons why we felt the bumps a little more than we thought was fair:

  1. Electric cars have high efficiency, low rolling resistance tires and they tend to be hard.
  2. It wasn’t a test drive, so salespeople hadn’t under-inflated the tires to make the ride smoother.
  3. The battery weight means Tesla couldn’t simply copy the suspension of conventional cars.
  4. Tesla simply hasn’t put as much work into fine-tuning the suspension as they could have. 

The car is loaded with sensors, so I’m a little surprised it doesn’t see bumps coming and automatically adjusts the suspension to compensate.  Maybe that’ll be a future feature. 

If I’d taken my Hyundai Getz, the ride would have been a hell of a lot bumpier, so I’m not saying the smoothness of the Model 3’s ride is bad.  I’m just saying it could be better. 

Feels Safe

The vehicle feels very steady, with plenty of traction.  I always felt safe when cornering, even when I was being a daredevil and going faster than the warning sign suggested.  Due to its lighter battery pack and smaller size, it didn’t have the same completely glued to the road feeling of the Tesla S, but it still felt better than any non-Tesla car I’ve driven.

It Has “Autopilot”

After battling our way to the heart of the Port Wakefield metropolis, we stopped for food — a salad roll for me and a salad stationary for Vanessa — and then headed to Snowtown.  Because the car had less range than Tesla led me to expect1. and because Gottfried had taken me for a little demonstration ride, I was wary of continuing with my original plan: going from Adelaide to Snowtown and then the Clare Supercharger. Still, according to both my calculations and the car itself, we would have enough battery charge to make it. 

On the way, I played with the car’s cruise control.  Tesla refers to its advanced cruise control as “Autopilot”, but that’s a bullshit name. 

You can put a plane on autopilot and take a piss or a nap and not die.  You can’t do that in a Tesla.  Well, I guess you could take a piss, but it would be extremely impolite to do so in a rental.2

But what it can do is still impressive.  The Model 3 can see road signs and automatically adjust its speed to the legal limit.  This includes temporary speed limit signs for road works.  The only time it failed was when we passed a sign someone had hit. But the sign was at a 30 degree angle. 

The car will also automatically brake so it won’t smack into things.  It can match speed with the vehicle in front and maintain a safe following distance.  Well, I say the distance was safe, but it was closer than I felt comfortable with.  Perhaps it should come with an “I don’t trust you yet” mode that has a stress-reducing amount of separation.  After all, this is Australia.  We have room for a few more metres of following distance. 

The Tesla Model 3 could even overtake automatically, which is kind of scary but worked well enough on the highway.  But the “autopilot” often wasn’t available on secondary and back roads.  It doesn’t appear ready to handle them yet.  I decided to give the “autopilot” a thorough test on Adelaide’s wild city streets when I returned.

The Clare Supercharger

When we got to Clare, the battery charge was down to 10%.  That’s the point where the Model 3 starts getting cranky, dials back unnecessary functions, and asks for a feed.  By the time we got to the Tesla Supercharger, it was down to 8%.  Watching too much Mission Impossible had convinced me the car would explode if the charge counter got to 0%, so I was relieved to arrive. 

Tesla Model 3 battery warning

Sounds serious

One constant of EV chargers in Australia is spiders love them.  It’s like they’re made from spider cocaine.  Despite the Clare Tesla Supercharger looking shiny and new it still had plenty of cobwebs, and when I pulled out the charging cable, a huntsman spider leapt out and landed on my leg.  But because we weren’t in Queensland it was so small I wasn’t even knocked off balance. 

Fast Charging Is Fast

When I plugged the Model 3 into the Supercharger, it charged fast.  Then, over the next couple of minutes, its charge rate increased as it ramped up.  Here’s a picture of its screen when it was slurping down power at its maximum rate:

Tesla Model 3 supercharging

It showed the battery charging at 128 kilowatts.  That’s the average power draw of around 200 Australian homes.  According to the display, this is enough to give it 940 kilometres of range an hour.  However, the car also told me I used 145 watt-hours per km, which means this charging rate would only provide 883 km per hour.  

The car didn’t maintain this charge rate because, like a mobile phone, it slows down as it gets full.  But it was still quick.  When I took the picture above, it said time remaining was 55 minutes, but that was because it hadn’t stopped thinking about it.  The actual time it took to go from 8% to its preset stop point of 95%3 was 43 minutes.  The car said it had 320 km of range at that point, so it gained nearly 7 km of range per minute if we believe it. 

A 43 minute wait would be boring if you had nothing to do, but we played a game of pool in the Clare Valley Motel.  We were so skilled at not losing balls down those little holes we spent the entire time on one game. 

I know many people are going to think 40+ minutes is way too much time compared to filling up at a service station, but overall you spend less time fueling an electric car than you do a petrol one.  This is because you charge at home to cover normal day to day driving, which only takes a few minutes a week, while petrol-powered cars require you to spend more time in service stations.  You lose some of the time you save when you use a charger on a long trip, but not all of it, and if you plan it right your car can charge while you’re doing something you enjoy.  Such as hitting balls with a stick. 

Using the Tesla Supercharger did cost me 52 cents per kilowatt-hour.  In South Australia, that’s not a massive amount more than the cost of grid electricity, but it seems steep for the rest of the country.  At least it’s cheaper than petrol and competition means EV fast chargers won’t be able to hold drivers over a barrel.

Tesla Model 3 Clare Supercharger

I was able to arrive at the Clare Supercharger thanks to my Clare-ity of purpose.

Tesla Superchargers Not Required

It’s not necessary to use a Tesla supercharger for rapid charging.  High power DC fast chargers are springing up all over the place.  If you go out the back of Burke you’ll still be out of luck at the moment, but provided you remain in front of Burke, you’ll often be able to find somewhere to charge fast.

Slow Charge From Normal Power Point

After checking out Clare, we went to our accommodation at Neagles Retreat Villas.  It was very nice, but also embarrassing.  Imagine inviting a friend to some luxury villas and not having enough money to pay for one each and expecting her to share with you.  But I guess that’s what you have to do when you’re not a millionaire and only pretending to be one by driving around in a Tesla.4

I plugged the Model 3 into a standard power point to top it up, but the charge only averaged around one kilowatt.  This was under half the expected rate and only enough for around 6-7 additional km per hour.  Gottfried, the car’s owner, contacted me because apparently, he could tell everything we were doing and said this sometimes happens with older wiring.  While the building wasn’t old, the wiring could have been cheap, and we were at the end of a rural transmission line.  So be prepared for this if you’re travelling in an electric car. 

I couldn’t completely top up the car battery because Vanessa didn’t let me leave the door open all night.  I offered to pop out and kill a few people because the odds against there being two serial killers in the area at the same time would be astronomical, but instead, she made me shut the door.  I guess she just doesn’t understand statistics.  

We then watched the Japanese anime, “The Unsmashable Snowman,” before turning in.  And yes, it was exactly as strange as you’d expect. 

Villa views: Whatever you do, kids, don’t become a blogger. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to look at crap like this all the time.

Vampire Drain

In the morning I checked the Model 3 and found its ranged had dropped overnight.  Not by much, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to drive long distance.  The vampire drain was caused by the car still using some power while motionless.  It’s possible to reduce this by fiddling with the settings, but I didn’t bother trying.

One feature that can be switched off to reduce the drain is its “Sentry Mode” security feature that takes video of anyone or anything the car doesn’t like that gets too close.  By watching the videos it took, I was able to determine Model 3s are scared of:

  1.  My friend Vanessa.
  2.  Wind blown vines.
  3.  A giant mullet balanced on top of a South Australian version of Bruce Lee.5

I’m only scared of one of these things. 

Tesla Destination Chargers

I had to pay money to use the Tesla Supercharger at Clare, but there are also Tesla destination chargers that provide power for free because it’s paid for by whoever had them installed.  We stopped at one kindly provided by the council in Kapunda and tried it out.  We only used it for a minute, but Vanessa bought Diet Coke, contributing to the local economy.  

It was powerful enough to provide around 70 km additional range per hour. Still, we didn’t hang around because we intended to use another one at the place where all internal combustion engine vehicles will end up before long…

When we parked, the battery was at 45%.  To increase it by 50 percentage points to 95% using the destination charger would take 2 hours and 25 minutes.  That would be a long time if you had nothing to do, but we had something to do, which was go into the National Motor Museum.  That’s the point of destination chargers.  They’re installed where there is something for people to do to bring in customers.  

The property owner has to pay for the electricity, but the National Motor Museum has a 300 kilowatt solar system on its roof, so a lot of the time it won’t cost them much to charge a car.    

Note destination chargers can vary in power, and not all will charge a car that quickly — but most will. 

Tesla Destination charger

According to this photograph from Tesla, there’s a disturbing lack of spiderwebs on US Destination Chargers.  It doesn’t seem at all fair for the spiders not to give a visual warning before they leap out at you.

“Autopilot” Is Not There Yet

After visiting the Motor Museum, we returned to Adelaide, and I dropped Vanessa off at her door.  It was then I decided it was time to fully try out the car’s “autopilot” because now there was only my own life at risk — as well as that of everyone else on the road in Adelaide. 

I don’t think we’ll have to wait very long for self-driving cars to become available, but trying out the “autopilot” convinced me the first ones aren’t likely to be Tesla vehicles.  What it can do is impressive, but it can’t do it better than I can.  It’s like watching a dog drive a car.  What’s amazing is it can do it at all, not that it does it well.  The technology has come a long way, but clearly still has a long way to go. 

But the Model 3 “autopilot” can do something I can’t: see ghosts.  I know because it swerved to avoid one.  This was disturbing as, from my point of view, there was nothing there.  I regained control by moving the wheel and ploughed straight through the ghost and sent it to the after-afterlife.  But because the car didn’t try to swerve into a solid object, it didn’t actually put me in danger, and so I was able to forgive it. 

But what I couldn’t forgive was its habit of trying to rub itself against parked cars. 

I had noticed the “autopilot” getting closer to parked cars than I liked, but I figured it must know they were there and it was just comfortable getting closer to them then I was.  But then I noticed we were able to get really close to a parked Honda Integra — one that had speed holes — and I thought…

“Okay, this time it’s going to take action to avoid it.” 

Nope.  We slid on by with maybe two centimetres to spare. 

At this point I said, “Screw you, R2D2!” and switched “autopilot” off.  I wasn’t about to put my fate in its electronic hands again.  I know there are people online who find it less problematic than I do, so perhaps I’m just paranoid.  But maybe we should check whether or not those people are all dead now.  

Potential Future Self Driving $10,100 Extra.

If you pay an extra $10,100, Tesla says the Model 3 will be able to fully self-drive when that feature becomes available.  No mention is made of when that will be or the fact the Model 3 may not meet Australian standards for self-driving vehicles — whatever they turn out to be. 

If you’re buying a car for your elderly parents and are worried about their ability to continue driving in the future, you may want to take the gamble.  But I can’t recommend trusting a company that won’t even give their vehicles a real-life range.

Big People, Little Problem

As I always do when I get my hands on an electric car, I see if I can manage to fit my biggest friend, Sam, in it.  There was no problem at all. 

Tesla Model 3 size

As you can see, the Model 3 is so large Sam doesn’t even look like the six foot four giant he is when standing before it.

As he was all signed up with Evee, Sam could get behind the wheel and give it a go.  The experience was very dichotomous.  He enjoyed it very much; I enjoyed it very unmuch.  As he drove my son and me around the Adelaide Hills at the very edge of the speed limit — even when taking hairpin bends cut into the side of a cliff — I asked him if the unusual position of the vehicle’s speedometer display bothered him.  He said…

“It’s okay.  I’m used to playing computer games with lots of different displays.” 

When I asked him if he was aware he wasn’t playing a computer game at that moment and was in fact holding the life of myself and my son in his hands, he said…

“That’s a philosophical question I’m not really equipped to answer at this time.”

Vanessa’s Report

Vanessa also tried out the Model 3.  She said it was a good car to drive even though she showed no interest in seeing just how fast it could accelerate or how well it handles corners at high speed.  I know this lack of hooning isn’t a girl thing because my sister was hoon queen of Toowoomba for three years running.  Now I think about it, Vanessa’s reluctance to open up the throttle may have been because I pointed out that the worst thing that could happen was she’d turn a $72,000 car into $1,000 worth of modern art.

One thing she didn’t like was how the digital radio kept cutting out as we were travelling through hills, although I guess we can’t blame the poor reception on Tesla.  Wait a minute — we totally we can!  Your satellites suck, Elon!  The only thing they’re good for is providing low-cost global internet!  They can’t even continuously beam Nickelback to a car in South Australia! 

Tesla Model 3 frunk

A Tesla’s front trunk or frunk is usually full of snaky cables.  The Model 3’s body is mostly steel, but that bonnet is aluminium, so don’t sit on it.  Like I didn’t.

Easy Maintenance

Electric motors are simple.  They don’t have oil, radiator fluid, spark plugs, filters, or anything that needs replacing on a time scale less than decades.  This makes maintenance very simple.  While internal combustion engine vehicles should be serviced every 10,000 or 15,000 km when it comes to service intervals the Australian Model 3 Owner’s Manual simply says…

“Your vehicle should generally be serviced on an as needed basis.”

That’s quite a change and represents a considerable saving if you don’t have to shell out for servicing every year or so.  But you don’t get off scot-free because Tesla recommends the following: 

Tesla Model 3 maintenance

That doesn’t seem too bad.  I have no idea how to replace a desiccant bag, but how hard can it be?  Also, we don’t salt the roads here, and your tires would have to be bloody expensive for them to be worth rotating them every 10,000 km6.  But the weird thing is they leave out is brake pads.  They simply say…

“The above list should not be considered comprehensive and does not include consumable parts such as windshield wipers, brake pads, etc.”

You’d think they’d make a bigger deal out of checking brake pads since they probably don’t want their customers to suffer from a condition known as ‘becoming dead’.  The good news is brake pads should last a very long time because the vehicle’s regenerative braking means they’re rarely used. 

Battery Warranty OK, Car Warranty Not OK

The Model 3 SR+ battery warranty is for 8 years or 160,000 km.  Whichever comes first.  It promises the battery will retain a minimum of 70% of original capacity for the duration.  As the average passenger car is driven around 13,000 km a year, most people will get the full 8 years from the warranty — unless they enjoy their Model 3 SR+ so much, they start driving more. 

The warranty’s the same for the Long Range and Performance versions of the Model 3, except they have a 192,000 km limit.

This is okay.  It would be nice if it were longer, but today’s lithium battery technology does have limits.  In the future, we’re likely to see better warranties.  Fortunately, most Tesla cars don’t seem to have a problem staying well above 70% original capacity when they hit the km limit.   

The warranty that is poor and needs to improve is the one for the vehicle.  It’s only 4 years or 80,000 km.  That’s awful given my Hyundai Getz, which is powered by explosions, came with a 5 year 100,000 km warranty in 2004.  If an electric car with a motor that has fewer moving parts than a Swiss army knife can’t do better than a low-cost Korean car, it’s simply shameful. 

While I don’t like the lousy vehicle warranty, I understand why it’s so poor.  Even though there is far less that can go wrong with an electric car than one with an internal combustion engine, building new cars is hard and mistakes will be made.  This is why the warranty is short.  They want it to end before too many of their mistakes come back to bite them.  

But Tesla is improving the reliability of their cars over time and learning from their mistakes7.  This has clearly already happened and today’s Model 3s are obviously better than those produced in 2018 or earlier.  Once they’ve had time to get it right, there’s no reason electric car warranties can’t begin at a base minimum of 10 years.  There are so few critical moving parts; once they get it right, there’s not a hell of a lot that can go wrong.  

Model 3 sits by the old bowl tree, Electric queen of the road is she, Drive Model 3, Drive Model 3, How green your life must be…

Tesla’s Range BS

The Tesla Model 3 is a great car, but it does have one major problem.  It’s not with the car itself but Tesla’s claims about it. 

Until a few days ago, Tesla said that the Model 3 SR+ had a range of 490 km on its Australian site.  This has changed to 508 km now the Chinese made version is being sold here.  While I assume the range has improved, going by what I can gather the Chinese version has no large range advantage over the one made in the US, and the new figure doesn’t represent real-world range.  According to the US-made Model 3 SR+ I drove — a vehicle that wasn’t even a year old — its range was only slightly over two-thirds the 490 km figure Tesla gave for it. 

But there is no need for guessing.  If Tesla wanted they could give us the exact figures for how far their cars drive on average with a full charge.  They can give it for city driving, highway driving, and for a combination.  Instead, they choose to give an inflated figure that misleads customers, tarnishes the image of the electric vehicle industry, and creates massive risk for Tesla.  

I don’t like it when people put electric vehicle companies at risk.  They are a key part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so I feel furious when I see people creating time bombs with the potential to cause massive damage to the industry.  The fact the people setting up the bombs are in the EV industry themselves just makes me facepalm so hard it makes a sonic boom.  

“I’m not as happy as I look.”

Australian Consumer Guarantees are very clear.  If a seller makes a claim about a product or service, it has to be true.  If it’s not, the customer is entitled to a remedy.  This can be a repair, replacement, or refund.  Anyone who buys a Model 3 SR+ and doesn’t get 508 km of range from a full charge under reasonable driving conditions can require Tesla to fix the problem.  I don’t know how many cars they’ve sold in Australia, but this could cost them millions.  It could even knock a fraction of a percent off Tesla’s share price[1.  Or cause the price to come tumbling down.  Shares are funny like that.].

Personally, I think Gottfried deserves to have his Model 3 Standard Range Plus upgraded to a Model 3 Long Range. 

Crime & Punishment

At the start of this article, I said the Tesla Model 3 was my favourite of all the electric cars I’ve driven.  But since then, new information has come to light that has changed my mind.  It’s nothing to do with the car itself.  Rather, it’s all to do with the evil within me it brought to the surface.  I have learned I committed a heinous crime while driving it:

Tesla Model 3 speeding ticket

I don’t know how this could have happened!  Oh wait, I do.  I drove too fast.  I can only assume the awesome acceleration of the Model 3 acted as a centrifuge causing all the good inside me to sink deep, leaving only pure evil on the surface.  I can’t specifically remember what happened.  I can only guess when the light turned amber I increased pressure on the accelerator.  In my Hyundai Getz that may have resulted in it rocketing towards the not especially evil speed of 62 km/h, but in a Model 3, evil speeds are so much easier to achieve.  

In this country — unlike some — justice is swift.  I have received my $466 fine:

That’s a lot of money.  It’s almost more than what I received for rigging the US elections.  I’m very distraught because I was doing so well with the whole, not breaking the law thing — under the name I’m currently using.  I’ve never had a ticket before, and this may be why people trust me to drive their fancy electric cars. 

I’m also regretful because I had plans that hinged on a clean traffic record.  My son will soon get his learners, and I was really looking forward to gloating when he got his first ticket.  I didn’t think it would take him long because driving isn’t like it was back in the old days.  When I was learning to drive in Toowoomba, we’d pull over to the side of the road and have a drink to steady our nerves if we saw something that upset us, such as another car on the road.  But now, due to one slip, all the hard work I put into not endangering lives while driving has gone to waste.  

Being unable to gloat really gets my goat.  And the monetary penalty means I couldn’t afford to get a goat if I wanted one.  I have a go-fund-me campaign to pay my fine and allow me to escape the consequences of my reckless disregard for the lives and safety of the people of Adelaide.  But don’t give me the money.  Send it straight to your local trauma ward. 

Way Better Than An Internal Combustion Engine

If — unlike me — you can meet the following conditions:

  1. You have a lot of money to spend on a new car.
  2. You can forgive Tesla for the ridiculous range figures on their site.
  3. You can resist the seductive lure of speed and drive like a responsible citizen. 

Then I recommend buying a Tesla Model 3.  If you’re loaded, I can’t think of a better car to buy.  Well, there is the Tesla S, but they’re so expensive if you can afford one you’re probably paying someone to read this for you, so it’s irrelevant. 

Unless you’re an extremely successful rural salesperson, the Model 3 SR+ range isn’t likely to be a problem.  This is despite the fact it can’t travel nearly as far as Tesla claims.  But if it is a concern and you’re so rich you’re not even aware that grapes don’t need to be peeled, you can always spring for the Long Range version. 

In addition to the low running and maintenance costs of an electric car, you’ll also have performance that exceeds most vehicles on the road.  If you want, you can pay more for the Performance Model 3 that will leave all conventional cars of a similar price for dead. 

Of course, if you are not so wealthy or you’re wealthy and got that way by being sensible, then I suggest looking at a cheaper electric car or a fuel-efficient hybrid.  Unless you want to get a small, fuel-efficient, conventional car and spend the money saved on a solar power system for an orphanage, those are about the only morally defensible options for new cars at the moment. 

Hopefully, Tesla won’t take its time bringing out the lower-cost electric car they have planned for the future. 

Footnotes

  1. Knowing what Tesla is like, I took the range figure from their site and subtracted 100 km but was still unpleasantly surprised.
  2. There’s also a 54 kilowatt-hour battery built into the floor of the Model 3 SR+ and, while I’m sure it’s water-resistant, I wouldn’t want to risk setting up a conductive path between it and my schmekel.
  3. I could have set it to charge to 100% if I wanted to, but I didn’t bother because I knew it wouldn’t be necessary.
  4. But if you ask my Vietnamese friends they’ll tell you when it comes to Dong I’m a billionaire.
  5. If I don’t see him in the upcoming movie, Mortal Combat, made in Adelaide, I will be distraught.
  6. Personally, I rotate my car’s tires every time I drive it
  7. Well, they’re learning from some of their mistakes.  The company still has a long term honesty problem.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. Richard Kirby says

    I don’t drive a Tesla and i am certainly not loaded. However, i don’t agree that you have to be loaded to drive a Model 3 SR+.

    I suspect that corporate drivers will get into Model 3’s in a big way, given they are very competitive against your average BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar or Volvo on the road today. Given i see hundreds of these cars on the road everyday there does seem to be a market for these cars in Australia.

    It’s true that Tesla’s are not ‘affordable’, they don’t compete with a Ford Focus or VW Golf but i am not sure they want to (yet).

    Hopefully we will see more stock in Australia now they are being made in China. Looking on the Tesla website there is never any Inventory of Model 3’s and the wait time is 6-9 weeks. More stock and more competition from other car brands will in time reduce prices further.

    • Barton Peter says

      Not entirely sure about the wait time. I ordered my Tesla 3 long range 6th oct. original delivery time estimated at 5-9 weeks, then extended to nov/ dec, now extended to feb/mar 2021, ie a possible 6 month wait.

  2. Very, very useful review… . Tesla have claimed they’re unable to provide exact range figures, as these will vary with weather conditions… but I agree they shouldn’t inflate range. With numerous other EVs citing long range estimates, their marketing people may be tempted to provide a best-possible scenario; one light-weight driver, at optimal speed, on ideal surfaces, with tyres at perfect pressures, etc., etc.

    The new(er) batteries will, of course, eventually achieve those range estimates, but citing an impossible range for this model must only disappoint buyers… and reduce trust… .

  3. Manufacturers lying about the range of their vehicles hardly helps the cause. I’m happy I bought a Hyundai Ioniq recently. Hyundai claims 311km range and I typically reach that or slightly exceed it. Sure, I live in Queensland and the car hasn’t seen anything resembling cold weather but I can live with that.

  4. Dominic Wild says

    A Tasmanian company is importing second-hand Nissan Leaf cars from Japan, where they have a weird system of encouraging drivers to change cars after three years.

    Some of the Leafs have 40 kW, others have 60 kW batteries.and what is exciting for us planet savers, is that once the regulatory hurdles have been sorted out, that battery can be used for your home supply and such a battery is much larger than a Powerwall.

    That co. will deliver to capital cities, but I can forget that as Perth is not listed. As WA is known for its entrepeneurs (and crooks!), one hopes someone starts importing to WA. The site offers a minimum of 80% battery capacity and prices are in the $20 – $40k range. More competition will be good for us!

    • But what is the price of a replacement battery for a Nissan Leaf not sold by an Australian dealer? There is a subsidised replacement program for Leafs that are sold by Australian Nissan dealers. But will it apply to “grey” imports?

      Without the subsidised program being taken into account a NSW Nisaan dealer quoted $33,000 for a replacement battery (probably including installation and testing)

      Beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period, Nissan has introduced a subsidised battery exchange program for vehicles sold by its Australian dealers. Nissan Australia will exchange a working 24kWh battery, with a state of health of 8 bars or less, with a new 24kWh battery for $9,990 plus the cost of fitment. https://thecarguy.com.au/nissan-leaf-battery/

      • Dominic Wild says

        Thanks or the warning, Paul about “grey” imports. The link to thecarguy gives me the shivers how much money one can lose buying an EV because one feels guilty for the pollution!

        • Spud Murphy says

          The problem with the Leaf is the battery has no active thermal management. You can get away with that in cooler climates like Japan, Tassie etc, but on mainland Oz the heat becomes a problem and causes accelerated degradation. The Leaf is the only EV with no active thermal management, all other EVs have it (either forced air or liquid systems) and so don’t have this issue. They still degrade slowly over time, but there are Teslas running around with 300,000km on their batts, so it isn’t a big issue for the life of most cars.

          The price quoted by Nissan for the Leaf battery is appalling, and known to be massively inflated, it would be costing them well under $10k to make that battery, given the size and the current cost of cells. Remember that, unlike ICE vehicles, once a car manufacturer has sold an EV they get very little more out of it by way of replacement parts due to the almost complete lack of parts needing regular replacement, so it makes sense to them to try to deter owners from fixing their EVs, instead encouraging them to buy a replacement vehicle.

          Of course, this is a tad unethical really and won’t wash with most people. We avoided buying a Leaf for just these reasons, bought a Zoe instead and it’s a great little car so far.

  5. The statements about range need to be tempered/clarified with regard to the fact that in Australia we still use the outdated “NEDC” rating (otherwise known as “not even damn close” but actually stand for “New European Driving Cycle”). In Europe this has been replaced by the WLTP cycle which is better but still longer than actual range. For an idea of “real world range” it is better to visit the fueleconomy.gov website run by the US-based EPA.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Those different methods of measuring range are all reasons why car companies — not just Tesla — think they can get away with dishonesty on range and fuel efficiency figures. But — and here’s the point where I point out I’m not a lawyer so this isn’t a professional opinion — they have nothing to do with Australian Consumer Guarantees. If a car manufacturer makes a claim about a product it has to meet it.

      • I agree, but as pointed out by Bryce Gaton in an article on The Driven (which I share here for other readers: https://thedriven.io/2019/08/07/why-are-new-electric-vehicle-range-estimates-often-so-different/), the reason carmakers use NEDC in Australia is because of outdated legislation – as I understand it. Clearly this needs to be updated (and I note I am not a lawyer either!). It would be useful to bring more attention to this issue, I believe, to clarify to potential EV buyers why it seems EV makers are overstating range.

        • Thanks for clarifying this Bridie, unfortunately this issues comes up every time a new person buys a Tesla (or other EV). NEDC range estimate is outdated and extremely inaccurate. Perhaps EVC could advocate stronger for this change to happen – many new owners feel misled by the website claims and that is unfortunately not only for Tesla, but for the EV uptake as a whole. Teslam on their part could provide both the legally required NEDC range and a “real life” estimate to be clearer with the new owners.

          A “funny” comparions here is the estimated petrol consumption on ICE vehicles – I’ve never seen the sales sticker to be accurate, real world consumption is always higher yet people have got used to this idea.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            If the Evee electric car rental site displayed the real world range of vehicles that should be help convince electric car manufacturers to change.

    • Andy Dolphin says

      Bought a LR Model 3 in Sweden a month back and the WLTP range was 580km not the 657km NEDC in the article. I think WLTP stands for Would Like That Please, cos I very much doubt even with careful driving in Chill mode I’ll come close. Tesla would be better to promote something that was achievable 80% of the time, not 5% if you have the wind behind you. That said, LOVE the car 😃

  6. Ron my math says 100 x 145 =14.5kWh/100km and at 52c/km that would be $7,54/100km. At current ULP prices in SA of $1.20/litre and with a country run in a common 4 cylinder car achieving 6l/100km for a fuel cost of $7.20 seems the fuel costs alone may struggle to justify the Tesla.

    Do not get me wrong I am 100% with you on saving the planet and the reduced operating costs will help as will free or low cost charging when available. I do own a Tesla product so I am not knocking the product.

    As you correctly said Tesla should be careful not to mislead when quoting range so best be careful when simply quoting fuel costs.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      The Supercharger fee comes out roughly equal to what it costs to fuel my Hyundai Getz per km, but a fairer comparison would be to a car of similar size which would put the Model 3 ahead. And if the petrol car had similar performance the Model 3 should be way ahead.

      Of course, a fuel efficient hybrid would be much cheaper than using a Supercharger.

      I figure competition will keep fast charger prices low once enough are built.

      • Fair call although proposed road use charges for EV’s might tilt the balance in favour of hybrids particularly for city use as they seem likely to escape those charges for the present.

        It makes me wonder if our “friends” the car makers like the idea of keeping their service businesses open for longer?

        A new Camry hybrid would be a fair comparison to the Model 3 but it does not have that smile inducing acceleration even if the fuel costs are comparable.

        • Richard Kirby says

          When borrowing a Model 3 for 3 months i didnt use the supercharger once. I simply plugged it in when i got home and set the mobile app to charge between the hours of 10am-4pm on a sunny day. As i have SOLAR free power from the sun!

    • Keith Heale says

      Ian, your maths are correct. If we always charged at Supercharger sites or other public chargers, the “fuel” cost for EVs would be similar to an efficient ICE vehicle. But, as you would appreciate, most EV owners rely heavily on charging at home, often from solar panels, and that makes all the difference. I tell my friends that the Tesla “runs on sunshine”.

      • Keith should I even mention i drive a C5 Citroen diesel (yes I am a masochist) that cruises at 110kph using 5 to 6 litres per 100km. We are in WA and I think Ronald will have conniptions about this being on his thread!

        I love looking at my Powerwall 2’s readout and thinking about the grid consumption which has been 0.1kWh for the past week.

        I would love a Model 3 but until we get a reasonable charging network here the trusty diesel will be the go to with a range per tank in the country well over 1000km.

    • James Mackness says

      Super Charger costs rose recently and they are now comparable with efficient ICE cars, but consider that when you use super chargers is the same time you use servos on the freeway, they’re always more expensive than your usual petrol. Chargefox fast chargers are ‘only’ about 42c a kWh and as the article and others state most of the time your electricity costs are much lower or free. If you switch to Amber Electric you can actually get paid to charge your car at certain times of the year.

  7. chris lamming says

    excellent and amusing article. well done. you need a link to your go fund me page.

  8. One of your better articles, Ron, thanks! I’ll be avoiding the new Model 3 now it’s made by the CCP. It was on our shortlist, it’s not anymore!

    • Ronald Brakels says

      It would be nice to see Xi, Li, the other Li, Wang, other Wang, Zhao, and Han on the factory floor installing upholstery and doing quality checks. But I doubt that happens. It’s probably just made by normal people.

      • Probably. And I love normal people, regardless of the colour of their skin. Still, I go well out of my way to not support that murderous regime, including food, electronic devices, clothes and cars. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can do. It would be nice if car manufacturers were a little more transparent as to where the cars are assembled, and what % of components come from China. Oh well, a man can dream.

        • Keith Heale says

          As I understand it, auto manufacturers cannot hide the country of origin of their vehicles – it is encoded in the first few characters of the VIN. For vehicles from mainland China the VIN starts with L, US-made vehicles start with 1, 4 or 5 etc.

          • Hey, that’s super interesting, thanks! I just read the Wikipedia article confirming what you said. I learnt something new today, yay!

  9. Jason Vickery says

    As far as range goes. You are yelling at the wrong people.

    It isn’t tesla claiming that range, its the nedc cycle which we KNOW isn’t real.

    The truth is, it’s a government requirement to quote nedc for ev’s, you will note they all use it.

    The EPA in America quotes about 260miles/410km which is much better and in mixed driving very achievable.

    Of course real driving isn’t like the test cycles so range will vary alot.

    If its 25deg, no wind and sub 60kph short trips with lots of regen, 410km will be quite easy to get.

    If its 0deg, headwind at 110kph on the highway, then of course you won’t get it.

    On the Tesla Australia groups we all agree NEDC is a bad way of displaying range as it sets unrealistic expectations.

    Rule of thumb is just go by what the car says there is.

    Tesla still has by the far the most efficient ev’s with the highest ranges and the best performance.

    • “The truth is, it’s a government requirement to quote nedc for ev’s. you will note they all use it.”

      Not true.

      On the manufacturer’s website a (especially the order page) and marketing they, of course, can choose to use a lower, more realistic range if they want to for the most prominent range figure.

      Which is exactly what Hyundai do for the Ioniq – they use the 311 km (WLTP standard) in their marketing instead of the 373 km (ADR 81/02 & NEDC standard) which is only quoted in the small print.

      hyundai range claim

  10. Keith Heale says

    Bridie has dealt with the range question, so I won’t carry on any more about that, except to say that multiplying by 0.7 gives a much more realistic estimate, i.e. 360 km for the SR+. Perhaps one day Australia will adopt the WLTP cycle. Perhaps not, because neither the PM nor the Minister for Transport believe that any right-minded Australian would drive an electric car.

    The acceleration of these cars is quite remarkable. The available torque is absolutely constant at all speeds from standstill to about 75km/h. Because there is no need for a gearbox that means the acceleration is constant up to the same speed. That’s why it’s so easy to go from 50 to 70 km/h in a little over a second (and collect a speeding fine)!

    When using the adaptive cruise control to follow other vehicles, the separation distance can be easily adjusted. I have mine set for a comfortable 2-second gap from the car in front (yes, the distance is speed-sensitive, as it should be).

    One joy of owning a Tesla is that new features and even improved performance arrive every few weeks in the form of free over-the-air upgrades. Instead of deteriorating, the cars just keep on improving. This is revolutionary in the automotive world!

    • Shane McGovern says

      So….The refreshed Model S Plaid + with a advertised Range of 837km will only achieve 837*0.7 = About 586km.

      If 586km is real world range then this is plain misleading, false, deceptive bullshit.

      I read that Edmunds did independent range tests on a range of electric vehicles. Tesla was the worst in terms of advertised v actual. Other EV’s actually exceeded their advertised range.

  11. Joel Davis says

    Hey,

    FYI, there is about 20% battery in reserve, so you can comfortably drive it down to 0% if you get caught out.

    It’s not like a phone that will instantly die on you if you hit 0%

    I have a Model S 75D.

    So if you drive conservatively you should be able to get closer to the advertised range.

    I think the biggest selling point is the charging network, you said you have driven other electric cars, what are their charging networks like?

    The range doesn’t worry me too much as the network is laid out so well I’ve always been able to get to my destination, but seems to cover Vic better than SA at the moment.

  12. Neil Bolton says

    Thanks for a great review! You raised the ire of my Tesla fan-boi persona a few times but I forgive you because it was fun to read. (Reminded me of Romsey Quints – you’re probably not old enough to know him, but he was a muttering rotter like you. Sounds like your buddy gave you the shivering quits when he was driving.)

    Range claims: yeah, but all car companies – ICE or EV – are equally guilty. You ever got the claimed mpg of a petrol car?

    You have to understand that the car is just a bloody sophisticated computer, and you have to learn all about it. We’ve had two Model 3s for over a year, and I reckon I know about 40% about them.

    One of our M3s is a SR+, and it’s been Canberra-Melbourne quite a few times. Range is easy to manage, as you pointed out. Sometimes you can get surprised by a headwind that you don’t realise is actually there, but Tesla has a cool Energy button that tells you how empty you’ll be when you get to the charger, and how slow you’ll have to drive to ensure you make it. (The other one is a Stealth Performance – no-one *needs* a Performance Tesla, but they sure are fun.)

    My only gripe is not Tesla, but that non-Tesla chargers are not as reliable as I’d like. When you’re running on fumes and you get to a charger that isn’t working – that’s annoying. Makes me fume. Ring NRMA and the very helpful girl agrees that the charger is indeed not working. That’s nice to know. (It’s only happened once in 120,000 kms, so it’s not a big problem.)

    You’re dead right about the total charging time with an EV being far less than a petrol or diesel car. The only time where we have to “wait” is on trips, and human functions (eating, drinking, stretching and the other ones) tend to take up all the time that the car is charging. Otherwise the cars are charged every night – takes about fifteen seconds to plug them in.

    Thanks again.

    Remind me to take some spider spray when I go to SA – I’ve actually never seen a spider in a charger in ACT, NSW, QLD and Vic . . .

    • “Otherwise the cars are charged every night – takes about fifteen seconds to plug them in.”

      AND you dont have to go to the servo today, if you are going on a trip tomorrow. (Or indeed “on the way”).

  13. Paul Lawrie says

    My Model 3 SR+ was delivered 2 weeks ago and it’s just amazing. I was well aware beforehand that the range was more like 300-350km, because despite being apparently “loaded” I did some reading beforehand.

    So far I’ve been powered completely via solar except for about $3 to test out my local QLD government charger that costs 20c/kwh.

    I find autopilot great, and on a few of my longer trips >200km I feel like it’s very worthwhile.

    I feel like your comments about Tesla being untrustworthy are over the line too.

    • untrustworthy
      /ʌnˈtrʌs(t)wəːði/
      adjective
      not able to be relied on as honest or truthful.

      I love Tesla products, and ultimately I consider them a force for good – but as far as many of the things Elon says – I think that’s pretty accurate.

      I think the problem is that the Tesla marketing people think the ends justify the means – so the means can be telling a few porky pies.

      • Paul Lawrie says

        I understand what the word means – I don’t have a learning difficulty – and frankly your reply is pretty condescending.

  14. 45 mins to recharge after a 350kms drive? That makes a 12 hour (if non-stop) Sydney Brisbane drive at least 25% longer, so you’d have to be both rich enough to afford the Tesla and to not worry about wasting your time in this way! I’ll stay with my PHEV, thanks: no range anxiety for such occasional out of town or weekend get aways, and the rest of the time you’d be on zero CO2 emmissions. Plus 45 mins fast-charging reduces battery life, doesn’t it?

    • Neil Bolton says

      I disagree with your sums. After 350kms in an ICE car (casting my mind back here . . . ) I find myself spending five minutes filling the car, five minutes paying, five minutes trying to wash the stink of petrol or diesel off my hands. Also, whether in an ICE car on an EV I still need to cater for human bodily functions, buy food and coffee etc, and stretch the legs just a bit. Meanwhile, an EV is sitting there, happily charging while you’re spending all that already-accounted-for time.

      And that’s just if you’re trying to drive Sydney-Brisbane as fast as you can.

      I’ve done Canberra-Brisbane (I think) six times in the last year or so, sometimes through central NSW, sometimes the coast road, and charging time has never been the slightest issue.

      Through central NSW I actually prefer the NRMA chargers as they are slower (and free!) and they give me time to wander around a country town that I otherwise wouldn’t experience.

    • James Mackness says

      That’s actually an inefficient way to do a long road trip, as stated in the article the charge speed decreases as the battery fills. If you want to speed up your journey it’s actually better to stop more times and run the battery between about 10% and 50-70% as I understand it. Very long road trips do probably take slightly longer, but how many times does the average person actually do a 12 hour drive and not want a couple of stops. The autopilot actually makes long journeys and traffic much less tiring as well, so even with a longer journey you’ll probably arrive more refreshed than an ICE car.

      • John Mitchell says

        Department of Main Roads recommends a 15 minute reviver stop every two hours. I probably go a little longer than that, but an EV (well a Tesla) doesn’t necessarily impact arrival times if you plan ahead.

        YMMV.

  15. The EPA drove one and recorded the energy use very accurately and fairly. I have driven one over 50,000 miles and will attest that the range is very real, AS LONG AS ENERGY IS NOT USED FOR OTHER PURPOSES, notably heat, but also including jack rabbit starts followed by heavy braking (which will wear out your tires also). EV acceleration is endlessly tempting but unnecessary.

    The reason EV range figures are so problematic is that EVs don’t waste over three times the amount of energy being used to move the car, as heat. That energy feels “free” but it isn’t. So accept reduced range and increased energy use when you heat your car, and quit complaining about paying to keep warm.

  16. Terry Bradford says

    I know others have picked you up on this but please direct your annoyance at the inaccurate NEDC range figures to the government – they are the ones mandating that Tesla show NEDC on the website for Australia rather than EPA or WLTP figures that Tesla show in most other countries in the world. I have a secondhand Tesla Model S – range when new was quoted as 440km NEDC or 390km EPA. If I drive carefully I can easily get the 390km even now when the car has over 100,000km on it but no I can not get 440km.

    In the current form Autopilot is meant to be used only on highways/freeways and not city streets. If you had tried it on the long highway drive portion of the test you probably would have been blown away by how good it is and how much easier (and less tiring) it makes those long drives. City driving is coming (probably next year) but yes using it in city at the moment is not recommended. And no all people who use Autopilot are not dead yet – Autopilot has done 95% of my highway driving for the last 2 years and I am very much alive.

    • I refer to my answer some comments ago. The government does not mandate that Tesla put the NEDC as the most prominent (or only) range on their marketing materials. Of course Tesla can advise a more realistic (lower range) – exactly as Hyundai do in for the Ioniq in Australia and Mini do for their Cooper SE, etc, etc.

      This take no responsibility, blame the government attitude astounds me.

      • Terry Bradford says

        Maybe you should be asking why the Australian government is the only major government using a standard last updated in 1997 when everyone else has adopted the more realistic WLTP or EPA measurements? Tesla has a global website so I feel it is reasonable for them to not customise for our one (very small) market just because our country insists on using a 25 year old standard to rate EVs that didn’t even exist then. I did a test drive with Tesla before purchasing my car and they were completely honest that the “government bulls**t range is not realistic” and showed me actual range figures and suggested using the online range calculators to see how it would work for me in real life before making the decision. I wonder if you get equally upset when the ICE car you have doesn’t meet the economy of the sticker on the windscreen when you bought it? Or if the fridge uses more power than what the label said per year? Why is it OK for those companies to have the labels on without warning you on their website that they are not realistic but somehow Tesla is committing a crime by following the same rules?

        • Terry,

          1) have a closer look – Tesla do customise their website for Australia.
          2) As I said – other EV manufacturers use WLTP – or their own estimates of range on their Australian websites – Tesla choose not to
          3) I’m glad the Tesla salespeople were honest in person. That’s my experience too. Shame their marketing is not always that honest.
          4) Australian Consumer Law is what it is and it is very clear on express warranties. I’d strongly suggest reading up on it. If you think it is too harsh, lobby to change it.

          Cheers,

          Finn

          • Paul Lawrie says

            They could do better. But speaking of dodgy marketing do you disclose that you share customer information with Facebook? According to my data you sent data to Facebook 2 days ago on the 22nd when was about when I posted a comment and disclosed my email address.

          • Paul,

            We do not sell your contact information to Facebook.

            Like almost every commercial website, we use cookies. One of them is the ‘Facebook Pixel’ which “is an analytics tool that allows us to measure the effectiveness of our advertising by understanding the actions people take on our website.” it also lets us show you ads on Facebook.

            This is explained in section 5 of our privacy policy. I have just added some links to that section so you can follow those to understand how Facebook use their cookie.

            This website costs serious money to operate securely and reliably. Cookies help us pay the bills by understanding how people use the site, and allowing us to target our advertising cost-effectively.

            Finn

  17. Just ran some calcs, an ICE car from Mel (Geelong) to Syd is 9.75 hrs, the Tesla with charging stops is says 11.6 hrs, so that’s 19% longer.

    The other thing to consider is you’re unlikely to drive 10 hrs without taking any breaks regardless of the car, so with an EV you just plan your breaks around your charging stops.

    Fast-charging is pretty clever, it charges quickly from 20% to 80% and slows right down to get to 100% to protect the battery, but I find charging to 100% is rarely required as all you need is enough to get to your destination which the car automatically calculates.

    If your the kind of person that often does long trips then PHEV is probably the best option, but if your like me and 90% or your trips are local, doing some math a few times per year is no big deal.

  18. “mistakes will be made. This is why the warranty is short. They want it to end before too many of their mistakes come back to bite them. ”
    Bit harsh?
    The warranty is the same as most cars in the price range in the US.
    4 years, 50,000 miles.
    That’s still above the 3 years 36000 miles (I think) statutary warranty (in the US).

  19. What an amazing and detailed article. Wow.

    Evee is awesome. I rented a p90d there for a monthly rate of $1900

    Month to month. Amazing to have opportunities like this without much commitment.

    Enjoyed the article.

  20. David Thrum says

    Here’s what Tesla says about real-world range rather than NEDC range. Pity it’s not linked to on the ordering page!

    https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/range-calculator-ref

  21. David Fairburn says

    This is off topic, I know, but worth my two cents worth. I have my own public EV, cheap per trip, requires no parking space, takes no room on the road. But of course can’t go everywhere I want it to. It is a train of course. When I add up the environmental cost of manufacture, the case for new EV’s diminishes; the fact they still use road and parking infrastructure, take up space when not in use, use raw materials and a lot og energy to manufacture, then transported around the world to the buyer, and battery technology that is polluting to manufacture, then why are we still encouraging private EV vehicles?
    EV car sharing goes some way to negating that, but it is still hard to argue against public transport.
    This is not a pet subject of mine, just worth pointing out.
    Non peak hour in Sydney sees too few patrons on trains. Covid has seemingly turned train uses into private car drivers.

  22. This is not about Tesla, but about what powers them, Lithium.

    Why hasn`t anyone mentioned that you can`t use Lithium batteries in a battery operated radio?

    I had to find out by purchasing Lithium batteries and trying to use them in my radio, try it and see what happens.

    • John Mitchell says

      What? Apart from being completely off topic Bob – anything designed to run on alkaline batteries will only run on lithium batteries if you make allowances for the voltage difference. It’s a very basic electrical concept. So yes, radios can and do run on lithium batteries. Just not yours with your lack of knowledge.

  23. Re the traffic-aware cruise-control distance, that was described as being too close: the following-distance can be adjusted at-will via the right toggle button in the steering wheel, set between 1 to 7 car lengths. Great article, but that bit was a case of not reading the manual (or being told) re how it works.

    There are many other useful aspects of driving a Tesla that are also not obvious without reading up on the features eg. how to use voice-activated controls to change almost all features for hand-free operation (again activated from a steering wheel toggle), such as playing music, adjusting air conditioning, etc.

  24. John Mitchell says

    I think it’s fair to have a go at Tesla about their range figures, but while you’re at it also have a go at all ICE cars with their so call fuel economy figures which bear absolutely no relationship with reality.

    For some reason Telsa in Australia is not quoting the EPA figures (463km for SR+ – which is closer to reality in city highway cycle) but instead quoting NEDC or WLTP. Probably NEDC. Which is what most EV’s being sold in Australia are quoting because there is no legislation around what figures to use and no local testing. I assume they are doing this to remain competitive with other EVs being sold, but misleading consumers, just because everyone else is doing it is commercially risky.

    Frankly the Govt’s policy on EVs is shambolic and in the long run will severely disadvantage Australian consumers. Car makers are reluctant to bring EVs to Australia without Govt support and consumers are actually holding off buying new cars until more affordable EVs become available. Result – severely depressed new car market. Catch 22.

  25. David Thrum says

    Suspect you will get better range in summer!

    Tesla has an energy use graph which shows rated range and the actual range based on your consumption over the most recent 25 or 50 km you’ve driven. For me the two values are much the same, which would equate to a full battery range between 500 and 550 km (mostly not highway driving (or hooning 🙂 ) ). This is less than WLTP (and of course the ludicrous NEDC) so
    is perhaps based on US EPA?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      It was pretty summery here in South Australia. It was warm, but not stinking hot so probably a good couple of days to test a Model 3.

    • There really are too many variations affecting the range any electric vehicle one can get.  
      I had “terrible” claimed electrical mileage after my jaunt from Brisbane to Sydney and back on my PHEV.  It is just a computer after all – trying to work out range based on past data, when that history has been skewed from months of local electric-only use to a sudden surge in petrol-only use (I tried, there were no available charge stations to fill even my PHEVs relatively tiny battery pack). 

      It took 3 weeks for the BMS (battery management system) to settle in before it stopped reporting a 30kms-only range (I get 50kms pure electric most of the time).  

      BEV and PHEV electric range is based on external temperature, how cold or warm you are trying to keep the inside of your vehicle, and the amount of regen braking you can do (much less on the highway than in stop and go traffic).  

      Time to chill out and stop trying to prove one or another measurement standard is best.  There cannot really be any perfect answer, AI is not there yet.  

  26. Jeremy Chou says

    Tesla have to inflate their range figures because everyone else does. It’s a coordination problem that only a government can solve. Fact is everyone inflates their range figures but Teslas still go further than others. Also driving at 110 is going to reduce efficiency compared with city or back road driving.

  27. Reg Watson says

    I’d be interested to know what the insurance conditions are Ron in a rental Tesla are if you are driving on autopilot and have an accident for any reason ? I would assume insurance companies would insist that the driver has the ultimate responsibilty for control of the vehicle but if anyone knows differently I’d be interested to hear.

    I still am yet to be convinced that an autonomous vehicle can’t make a mistake in certain circumstances. Yes I know humans make them all the time but we know who is responsible most of the time when they do. I am interested in the legal culpability in the event an autonomous vehicle causes
    injury or death and who pays.

  28. What a pathetic review!
    Someone got his nose way out of joint because he couldn’t afford a Model 3, and because he got caught speeding through an amber light at 10kph over the speed limit. It’s precisely those actions which often cause very bad accidents at traffic light controlled intersections.
    Hint: drive safely and within the law and you won’t get fined!
    You were also using the autopilot in places it is not yet meant to be used.
    Fact: the first aeroplane “autopilots” did only one thing: kept the wings level, that’s it, nothing else.
    And even the very latest and most sophisticated aircraft autopilots in 2021 do not ever legally allow the pilots to leave the seat and/or go to the ‘loo!

    You also conveniently ignored many of the absolutely amazing features of the Model 3. You also claim the car didn’t achieve NEDC consumption figures (which are mandated by the government) yet other people, including me, can!
    Yes, we all know NEDC is a dumb standard and way too optimistic, but blame the Australian government who mandate it, not Tesla – U.S. EPA is far more accurate and totally achievable on a regular basis.

    (Q: Has anyone ever achieved windscreen sticker consumption in an ICE vehicle? Damn sure I haven’t ever over a tank of fuel, so I should therefore be taking legal action against the manufacturers ROFLAMO?)

    This was posted in a Model 3 Facebook group just today:

    “ Based on a pack size of 55kwh and stated range of 490km, my SR+ should be able to hit 112wh/km. So I tried a little range/efficiency test last evening.

    Route was from Brisbane Bayside -> Gold Coast (The Spit) and back.

    I have a heavy foot, so when I’m driving solo I’ll get 145wh/km, but this reduces to 125/130 when the missus is in the car as I tend to behave myself and drive a lot more smoothly 😆

    For this trip I set a few rules to get this number down further:
    – No A/C. Not a problem as the drive was in the evening and the temp started at 29 but fell to 22 by the end
    – AP set to 95km/h on the highway, speed limit on other roads
    – No racing starts, smooth acceleration only 🙂

    Things that might have brought down the efficiency:
    – Two tyres showed 1 psi below normal
    – There was about 15min of rain
    – Some roadworks and traffic on the highway
    – It was a night drive so headlights were on
    – Some banging techno playing 👍”

    I won’t bother commenting further as it’s not worth my time, and I suspect my comments will not be published anyway.
    All I’ll say is that our 16 month old Model 3 is the best car we have ever owned, by miles, and miles.

  29. Richard Scholl says

    As a Model 3 owner (for the past 18 months), I agree 100% with the range observation. Yes it’s a claim that Tesla made, but I was well aware it was bullshit before I bought the car. It was well published that the estimated range was far in excess as to what you could expect during standard driving.

    I disagree about the cost and affordability issue though. Whilst the price tag was $72k, my finance payments on a $40,000 balloon are $170pw due to subsidized interest rates that are available for green vehicles. The larger than normal balloon is possible due to the exceptional resale value. I ran the numbers. My 2006 Accord was costing me $140 per week in fuel and repairs/maintenance and servicing, so the changeover price was about $30 per week for one of the safest cars on the road. I’m no millionaire and you don’t need to be and that $30 per week is well worth it for the safety rating alone. So from a cash flow point of view, if you have any form of car loan, forget the actual purchase cost. Look at the weekly cash flow impact and you will find that in most cases you will be much better off from a cash flow POV than with almost anything else.

    *disclaimer* I do have a 13.2kw Solar PV system, so am able to charge for free so there is zero cost for me to charge the car. Ordinarily at 26c per kwh you will pay about $20 in electricity for a charge.

    I have also had the car for almost 30,000km and have had zero issues and zero servicing. (I have had to change the rear tyres… which might be more of a reflection of my driving habits than the vehicle)

    By the way, you can adjust the vehicle following distance in Autopilot by using the right steering wheel toggle (just as an FYI)

    Can I also suggest that your autopilot experience is not indicative of mine. Once you are used to it and know its limitations it is an absolute blessing, particularly on long drives where I used to arrive completely shattered, I now experience significantly less driver fatigue. Though to be honest even 90% of my driving around town is on AP.

    My view is that the Tesla Model 3 is the best car I have ever owned or driven, by an order of magnitude. These cars are the future and once you have driven one for a few weeks, you will never go back to a standard ICE car.

    • Same view here- best car we have ever had by miles, and miles (or kilometres if that is appropriate LOL 🙂 Eighteen months in, no servicing, and no issues- amazing car. We could go four years with nothing more than tyre rotation and preferably flushing the brake fluid (which is hygroscopic, so should be done or at the least tested at about three years.) Brake wear is almost non-existent as nearly all stopping is done via regen, with energy going back to the battery.

      Last Saturday we did a 15 hour day for a family birthday function, and a round trip distance of about 640 kilometres. Thanks to a Tesla Supercharger half way there- perfectly placed for a brief stretch of the legs and ‘loo stop, it was a breeze. I simply couldn’t have managed that long day in our other car, a diesel SUV. I have bad shoulders which would have made a long day with two long drives literally quite impossible.
      Using the (fabulous) autopilot for 95% or more of the time, we arrived home late and still feeling fine. For the whole 640km trip, we had only two very minor “phantom brake” episodes (just a slight speed reduction) which were totally inconsequential. (You just apply some accelerator pedal to maintain your speed.)
      It’s a an absolutely amazing car, and with software updates just keeps getting better. (The autopilot software is currently undergoing a massive re-write with lots of customers enjoying Beta testing it in the U.S.ofA. Some of the videos they’re posting show that higher levels of autonomy are getting very close indeed. We will eventually see the fruits of that probably later this year which will make autopilot much better still, even for those who don’t pay the premium for the “full self driving” option.)

  30. It was a fun, yet very informative read. Thanks for the great work!

  31. Marko Pekki says

    Hi, ordered my tesla 3 sr+ and got it after 10 days…and I live in Croatia (small country opposite ti Italy). It looks like I got lucky. Almost perfect car, public chargers free up to 50kw, no major trim problems, drives like a charm. Range on 100% from 350-420 km. Not bad because I have 88 km to work and back daily.

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