With the release of the new Supercharger version 3 (V3) technology, Tesla is significantly boosting the charging speeds of the Model 3, and getting further ahead of the competition. In this article, we run numbers on the Model 3’s new capabilities on road trips and long journeys, and reveal how it compares with its peers.
Let’s jump right in and have a look at our classic “highway range and recharging” chart. With V3 Supercharging, Tesla has moved the game on, and from now on we are using range regained from 20 minute DC charging as the new reference for comparisons (from the previous 30 minute benchmark).
Strictly speaking, we thus far only have clear insights into the recharging speeds on the Tesla Model 3 Long Range. It seems safe to assume the other Model 3 versions will get similar C-rates as the Long Range pack does, though — in other words, equivalent charging speeds in proportion to their battery pack sizes. We can revisit this again when we get more information. Based on these estimates, here’s how range and charging stacks up (click any graph to embiggen):
As usual, since most long journeys are mainly undertaken on highways, we use the EPA highway range ratings as the fairest means to compare different models. This closely approximates steady driving speeds of 70–75 mph (112–120 km/h) in decent conditions. We assume initially driving from 100% battery down to 10% (using 90% of the vehicle’s overall range) before taking a break to rest and recharge. It’s clear that the leading EV in this group — the Tesla Model 3 Long Range — is now capable of a similar overall pattern to a gas vehicle on road trips, and a better pattern in some important respects.
Why better than a gasmobile? Every EV that has access to a plug at home is able to start a long journey with a full tank of electrons from the get-go, with no extra effort or time required. Fossil vehicles are not typically kept with a full tank of gas all the time. They will usually need a dedicated visit to a gas station at, or near to, the start of a long journey, requiring additional time and effort. A fossil vehicle will therefore often fall behind an EV right from early on in a trip.
A quick 15 or 20 minute rest break after a solid 3 to 3.5 hours or so of highway driving (225–260 miles / 360–420 km) is a sensible pattern for human comfort — a stretch, a bathroom break, a coffee or snack. After another 2+ hours of highway driving, you’ll want another quick break, or maybe a meal. The Model 3 Long Range easily accomplishes this pattern, and the other Model 3 variants are close to it.
For folks who only occasionally make longer journeys over 200 miles (320 km), and for families with young kids or pets who anyway want to make more frequent and/or slightly longer rest stops (with meal breaks), any of these vehicles are great. All are ready to cover close to 200 highway miles when away from home. During a 40 minute meal break, even the non-Tesla EVs regain energy for another 1.5 to 2 hours of onward highway driving:
Whilst all of these EVs make fine road-trippers if you’re not in any great rush on your journey, it’s notable that the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range and Standard Plus are able to add a similar range in 20 minutes (130 / 142 miles or 210 / 230 km) as most of these EVs are able to add in 40 minutes! The Tesla Model 3 Mid Range and Long Range are even further ahead. (See first chart.)
Tesla’s technology lead means a lot of catching up to do for other automakers, and it’s a very positive thing for overall EV adoption. Everyone knows that EVs are now firmly in the present, and everywhere in the future. To stay in the race, other manufacturers and charging network providers are being forced by Tesla to step up their own game, making EVs ever more capable, and further increasing their value proposition compared to fossil vehicles.
Does buying a new fossil vehicle even make sense any more?
The significant advantages of the affordable and all-round capable EVs that are now available creates a moment for pause and reflection. Does it even make sense any more to buy a fossil vehicle, given the all-round superior qualities and value proposition of the best EVs?
The market is now quickly shifting. If we look 3 to 5 years down the road, will the decision to have bought an expensive new fossil vehicle in 2019 be a cause for regret? Let us know in the comments.
Here are the charts in metric units:
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