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Tesla Model Y vs. Model 3 — Owner & Former GM EV1 Engineer Shares Details

A former GM engineer who worked on the EV1 and now owns both a Tesla Model Y and Model 3, Dick Amacher, recently provided a special look at his Model Y and comparisons to his Model 3 for CleanTechnica supporters. Cutting out the Q&A session, below is most of his presentation.

A former GM engineer who worked on the EV1 and now owns both a Tesla Model Y and Model 3, Dick Amacher, recently provided a special look at his Model Y and comparisons to his Model 3 for CleanTechnica supporters. Cutting out the Q&A session, below is most of his presentation.

Before getting into the Tesla Model Y, Dick said a bit about his earlier days at GM working on the EV1 project. As he noted, without the lithium-ion batteries of the 21st century available yet, it was hard to see a future for electric vehicles back then. How things have changed!

Some clear differences you would expect between the Model Y and Model 3 — probably the core differences that would make you choose one of the other — are that the Model Y has a ton more storage capacity while the Model 3 has better handling due to its lower center of gravity. The difference in the former category is something that is still a bit shocking even if it isn’t surprising. There’s just so much more space in the Model Y trunk. Dick also teased out the best that he could for us the different measurements and feel regarding seat height, leg room in the back, and general passenger space in the Model Y compared to the Model 3. In many ways, it seems like the Model Y completes the perfection of the passenger experience in a Tesla. It gives that little bit of extra seating height and leg room that one might feel the Model 3 needs. On the other hand, though, you do have that inherent tradeoff of a little more body roll in the Model Y. I think comparing the two is going to come down to experiencing the two for many of us, perhaps actually increasing demand for test drives much more than was needed with the Model 3 — in order to help people choose which to buy.

Some other differences is that the Model Y (at least, the trim Dick got) includes a wireless phone charger by default and has a few USB-C ports (instead of just USB-A ports), but doesn’t have Homelink included (it costs $300 to add this) or the NEMA 14-50 connector. New Tesla Model 3s also now lack the latter two goodies, but they were included with Dick’s Model 3 when he got it last year. (My Model 3, which we got in August, included the NEMA 14-50 connector but not Homelink.) The Model Y also tinted rear glass.

Dick also conducted a careful efficiency comparison test on the same 24.2 mile stretch of road with variables kept the same as much as possible, including getting the speed up to 70 mph in the same gradual manner and then putting the vehicles on Autopilot. He found that the Model Y Performance used 299 Wh/mile whereas the Model 3 Long Range RWD used 243 Wh/mile. He also talked in some detail about EPA range tests, which I found particularly interesting and useful.

There were a number of other details Dick discussed and highlighted with pics. I encourage you to watch the whole video.

One matter Dick discussed that a lot of people have talked about is the possibility of putting rear-facing seats in the back for a third row. There was no conclusion on that matter, but Dick offered his engineering perspective on the potential for that. On that topic, note that Dick is wearing a CleanTechnica t-shirt in a pic about this that Sandy Munro recently shared in one of his videos. 🙂 The picture is part of the presentation above as well.

One final matter Dick highlighted was a very noisy HVAC system. (Watch the end of the video to hear it.) The Model Y’s HVAC system when cooling is significantly louder than the Model 3’s HVAC system. Dick presumes this may be related to the Model Y’s system now having a heat pump, but says that’s not a reason in itself for the HVAC system should be louder. Rather, some factor in how the system was designed must be creating the extra noise, and will hopefully be improved over time in order to cut down on the noise. This is something he and I haven’t seen brought up elsewhere in the midst of all the positive coverage of the HVAC system’s heat pump, which Dick did also acknowledge was a nice step forward when it comes to efficiency. Again, this is probably something that needs to be experiences in person, but it’s useful that Dick flagged it as something that’s different from the Model 3 for those of us who want to compare and contrast the two options.

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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