This story can now begin for real, as I am finally the owner of a Tesla Model 3.
Previously In My Quest For Net Zero
First, see: “My Quest For Net Zero & Beyond With Tesla Model 3 — Part 1.”
Tune into my early expectations of the Model 3 after driving and owning many other electric cars here: “9 down, 1 to go — a personal tale of 7 years with electric cars.”
Also check out my initial ordering and decision-making experience: “How My Tesla Model 3 Order Turned From Super Easy To Super Confusing.” (Most of the confusion there was on my shoulders.)
Quick recap to explain the graph: It has an axis of chronology and an axis of liquidity, with one key number: “0.” The price of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range RWD is a big blow to the graph the second I pay for the car, but look and behold — the graph is actually bouncing back. Upwards and onward from here.
There is a long way to go, but paying off debt is a bliss. Doing it while owning a Tesla Model 3 is a thrill! So, if the graph rises steeper from now on, without me getting a better paid day job that is, it will show that the Model 3 was a sane investment, as opposed to insane, which seems to be what everybody I know thinks at this point in time.
Part 2: Delivery — Eventually
My Tesla Model 3 odometer: 303 km.
Before I begin, let me insert this independent paragraph that I wrote before I took delivery of my Model 3, describing my experience with the Model S I got as a loaner when the first delivery attempt failed:
As I write this I have actually not yet driven the Model 3, only had a sit-down inside it at the store. Therefore I can now give my unbiased verdict of the 2017 Model S 75D, which I have driven well over 1,000 miles in 3 weeks. In a word: Impressive!
To think that this car is the first mass-market attempt from a car startup is unreal. It being electric, doubly so. No wonder people who don’t understand Tesla’s mission (and probably never have driven a Tesla) keep smearing the company, because this is as close to impossible as it gets. Even if you actually do understand Tesla’s mission, it’s still almost impossible to believe what Tesla, with Elon Musk’s clear vision, has achieved.
I realize that the Model S has gone through a lot of refinement since it was initially launched in 2012, and I certainly felt an improvement between this particular iteration and the first one I drove back in 2016. But in any case, this is a dream of a car, and has been from the start.
The design is of timeless beauty. You just can’t stop eyeballing it. And the lines of the interior are gracious. I know there is still a quality step up to the finest German high-end sedans, but you forget all about that when you press the accelerator. Quiet, strong, and smooth, with the attitude of a cheetah chasing a gazelle. The whole driving experience is simply addictive. And you certainly do not miss the hundreds of buttons and dials in conventional cars after a few miles in a Tesla.
If you like big and sleek cars, the Model S is something you definitely want to try out. With its 195 cm wide body and glass roof, it’s a luxury sedan with looks that will seduce you. When you cruise around town, it’s silent conduct seem to ingratiate bystanders as well.
The biggest problem I have had in the Model S was that the trips I needed to drive were too short. Trim in the seats to support your lazy bones, fire up your favorite music on the premium sound system, activate Autopilot, and you never want to stop.
With my driving style — not too aggressive and not too cautious — I could go 375 km (233 miles) on a full charge, but in reality I started thinking about charging when I dipped under 100 km (62 miles) left on the battery and just plugged it in at home or cruised past a Supercharger for a 15–30 minute rest. After having lived patiently with the first-generation Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, I will never, ever worry about range again.
By the way, I was lucky to experience a software update of the car, which I might add it suggested doing by itself in the parking lot while I was at work. It jumped from version 2019.12.1.2 to 2019.16.3.2 and I was curios about a certain stretch on my route to work where it previously did not manage to go straight when the layout changed from 1 lane to 2 lanes. I had to interrupt Autopilot because it chose the left lane instead of staying in the right lane. But this update fixed that, so the next time I got to the same spot, it chose the correct lane. Like magic.
Okay, with that out of the way, on with the Model 3 story, with one final bump:
On June 11th, I was getting ready to go pick up my Model 3 as scheduled when the phone rang. Tesla service. Car not ready. A couple of bolts missing. You have got to be kidding me!? No. Really? Yes. How long? Couple of days. … Okay, in their defense, though, the reason those specially designed locking bolts where missing was because they had never experienced a drivetrain replacement on a Model 3 before, which is of course a positive.
On June 13th, I finally got my Model 3. That’s 3 weeks after the originally planned delivery date (when I got the discouraging news about my Model 3 not being ready for delivery because of some unidentified whirring noise from the drivetrain). That was the rainy day that I did my very best to look disillusioned about the fact, and to make amends the good people at Tesla Aarhus handed over a key fob for the loaner Model S while they got on with getting my Model 3 ready.
On the bright side, it is a genuine privilege to now have a chance to compare the Model S to the Model 3. The really interesting thing about these two cars is that they both have a 75 kWh battery, but that’s all they have in common apart from the manufacturer’s name. Everything else differs. Let’s quickly go through the specs to clarify the differences:
2017 Tesla Model S 75D (data from ev-database.org)
- Battery capacity: 75 kWh
- Battery cell dimension: 20 mm x 65 mm (6,300-ish cells total)
- Drivetrain: 2 x AC induction motors (first design by Nikola Tesla in 1887), AWD
- System power: 245 kW (329 hp), 525 Nm
- Vehicle weight: 2,108 kg
- 0–100 kph: 4.4 seconds (0–60 mph: 4.2 sec.)
- Top speed: 225 kph (140 mph)
- Cabin noise at 100 kph (62 mph): 63 dB
- My average energy consumption: 200 Wh/km (320 Wh/mile, mix of all kinds of roads and speed).
- Giving real world average range of: 375 km (233 miles)
- Supercharge power: up to 120 kW
2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range RWD (data from ev-database.org)
- Battery capacity: 75 kWh
- Battery cell dimension: 21 mm x 70 mm (4,400-ish cells total)
- Drivetrain: 1 x AC reluctance motor (first design by W. H. Taylor in 1838), RWD
- System power: 211 kW (283 hp), 416 Nm
- Vehicle weight: 1,730 kg
- 0–100 kph: 5.3 seconds (0–60 mph: 5 sec.)
- Top speed: 225 kph (140 mph)
- Cabin noise at 100 kph (62 mph): 63 dB
- My average energy consumption: 150 Wh/km (240 Wh/mile, mix of all kinds of roads and speed)
- Giving a real world average range of: 500 km (313 miles)
- Supercharge power: up to 145 kW (up to 250 kW when Supercharger V3 is available)
See, the only thing they have in common is the battery capacity. Not a single physical feature is shared. Even the individual battery cells are different, as the new 2170 format has replaced the legacy 20650 format. Just looking at the numbers, you would think the Model 3 is much more efficient, and that’s exactly what my average energy consumption shows, by a surprisingly large margin.
A note on the cabin noise levels: I did a very unscientific measurement with a simple app on a phone. As reference, my old Volvo 240 measures 67 dB, which is more than double the noise of these electric wonders. However, the seemingly same noise level of the Model S and Model 3 is experienced very differently. The Model S has a soft low-frequency rumble, whereas the Model 3 has a higher frequency tire and wind noise. None of which are in any way unpleasant — just different — making the Model S more comfortable at high speed and the Model 3 a breeze at moderate speed.
I have been driving the Model 3 in the same conditions as the Model S for a couple of days now, and this really important mass-market shot from Tesla just blows me away. It is not an exaggeration to claim that about 10 seconds after I touched the accelerator pedal in the Model 3 for the very first time, I knew I had made the right choice. If the word for the Model S is “Impressive,” then the word for the Model 3 has to be “Incredible.”
I had seriously considered buying a used Model S, available for less than the cheapest new Model 3 these days, and surely I would have loved it, but I am glad I didn’t. Everything about the Model 3 is exactly what I had hoped for, and then some. It’s practical, roomy, comfortable, easy going, and nimble, and when you let it, it’s fast like a bat out of hell.
From now on it’s a matter of experiencing a car that just gets better and better with OTA updates, while charging it primarily directly from the sun, and renting it to anyone who finds the need. My quest for net zero & beyond is finally underway.
By the way, I named the car “Colin,” after a small security guard robot in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy that is captured and gets its reward circuits rewired to find ecstatic pleasure in anything its master commands of it!
Feel free to use my referral code (or anybody else’s) when you buy a Tesla in order to receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles: https://ts.la/jesper18367
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