The most popular electric vehicle globally – including Australia – has received another price increase, with no changes to equipment, amid the ongoing production and supply shortage crisis.
The Tesla Model 3 is available in three variants, starting from $65,500 before on-road costs with a driving range of up to 602km (WLTP), a high-tech minimalist interior and all in a slick sloping sedan body style.
It’s the third time the base RWD has received a price hike this year and the second time for the Long Range and Performance, with the most recent increase in March subjecting the premium electric sedan up to $4000 extra, while in April the Long Range also lost its 19-inch Sport wheels as a standard inclusion.
For context, in its prime during July 2021 to early March 2022, the Model 3 cost between $59,900 to $86,472 before on-road costs due to lowered pricing from the 2021 refresh and shifting Australia’s production source to Shanghai, China from Fremont, USA.
Nonetheless, the entry-level Model 3 RWD is still eligible for EV state rebates in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, while the Long Range and Performance attracts the luxury car tax (LCT). For company fleets, the RWD and Long Range are eligible for the Labor government’s fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemption Electric Car Discount scheme.
As at publication, Australian delivery times of the Model 3 stretch into 2023.
It’s joined by the Tesla Model Y, a more practical crossover SUV twin, that will fiercely go head-to-head with the Model 3 in the sales charts. We’ve detailed everything you need to know about specification and feature differences here.
Compared to current Model Y crossover, only the Model 3 sedan offers the mid-spec Long Range model in AUstralia (for now).
The Model 3 also directly rivals the Polestar 2, and its pricing is line-ball with the Nissan Leaf e+, Hyundai Kona Electric Extended Range, Mini Cooper Electric, Mazda MX-30 Electric, Volvo XC40 and C40 Recharge, among others.
Size and design
Riding on a ground-up EV platform as per the Model Y, all Australian-bound Model 3s are produced from Tesla’s Shanghai factory in China.
It offers a simplistic exterior design with a rounded face, matte black trim, and sloping roofline that enables its energy efficient 0.23 drag coefficient.
Meanwhile, the minimalist interior is clad in vegan leatherette seats and steering wheel, suede, and matte black surfaces thanks to a refresh in 2021.
As standard, the black interior features a full-width wood dashboard that stretches into the front doors, but the optional $1500 black and white interior replaces it with a white panel instead. All models feature a two-pane fixed panoramic glass roof that has infrared and ultraviolet tinting.
At the rear row seats, there are two ISOFIX child seat anchorage points and can fold down in a 60/40 configuration. The sedan also offers deep underfloor boot storage due to the lack of a spare tyre and a frunk under the bonnet, too.
Range and powertrain
The Model 3 line-up is offered in two different battery sizes and chemistries, plus three powertrains.
The Model 3 rear-wheel drive (RWD) comes with a 57.5kWh (usable) lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery good for a claimed 491km of range (WLTP) and acceleration from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds.
Stepping up to the mid-spec Model 3 Long Range adds a front electric motor for all-wheel drive (AWD) and packs a larger 76KWh (usable) nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) battery. As per its moniker, it offers the longest claimed driving range at 602km (WLTP) and sprints from 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds.
The flagship Model 3 Performance uses the same large NCA battery, but ups the ante with tuned dual-electric motors driving all four wheels, cutting the 0-100km/h time to just 3.7 seconds. It does reduce claimed driving range to 547km range (WLTP), though.
The Model 3 has a towing capacity of 1000kg (braked) or 750kg (non-braked); however, Tesla will only offer a first-party tow hitch accessory for its Model Y wagon SUV sibling.
Although Tesla doesn't disclose charging capabilities, zecar believes the Model 3 RWD can charge at up to 170kW DC or Long Range and Performance models at 220kW DC using a standard 400-volt class architecture. All variants can juice up at up to 11kW AC.
Since the base RWD uses an LFP battery, Tesla recommends charging it regularly to 100 per cent without any excessive degradation concerns, while the Long Range and Performance’s NCA pack should usually be charged at up to 90 per cent to preserve its health.
It also has exclusive access to the convenient Tesla Supercharging network in Australia, though it is starting to open up to all EV models overseas. We’ve detailed whether it's a key selling point to buy a Tesla in Australia here.
The company estimates a 15 minute top-up on its fastest 250kW DC V3 Supercharger adds 327km of range to the Model 3.
The small sedan uses the standard Type 2/CCS2 charging connector and is no longer supplied with the three-pin trickle Tesla Mobile Connector home charging cable. It is, however, available as a $550 accessory. The Model 3 isn’t capable of vehicle-to-load nor bidirectional charging.
When using its built-in Google Maps navigation system and set to a Tesla Supercharger as the destination, it can precondition the battery for optimum fast charging speeds. The strongest one pedal regenerative braking mode is standard.
Safety and technology
The Model 3 has obtained a five-star ANCAP safety rating under the 2019 testing criteria.
All models come with ‘Tesla Vision’ and ‘Basic Autopilot’ camera-based active safety assistance features, including auto emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and lane-centring assist, blind-spot camera view, reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
Tesla Australia now offers a $5100 'Enhanced Autopilot' option package, which adds automatic lane changing assist, 'Navigate on Autopilot' on highways, semi-automatic parking, and Summon and Smart Summon remote features.
Opting for the $10,100 ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ – which isn’t full autonomous driving – brings all Enhanced Autopilot assist systems and 'Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control'. It also 'promises' enabling full autonomous driving beta sometime in the future and 'Autosteer' on city streets.
The high-tech sedan features a 15-inch horizontal infotainment system running Tesla’s own operating system capable of over-the-air updates and is powered by a new computer-grade AMD Ryzen processor.
The touchscreen features Google Maps navigation, built-in dashcam and ‘Sentry Mode’ recording functionality, arcade games, music and video streaming services, and more.
Tesla includes a 30-day ‘Premium Connectivity’ trial to access music, video, karaoke and Internet browser apps using its own embedded Telstra 4G data connection (instead of relying on your own mobile wifi hotspot), plus enables live-traffic lines and satellite view in its mapping system. It is a $9.99 per month subscription afterwards.
The central screen is also home to the speedometer, remaining state of charge, surrounding traffic visualisations and other important information due to the lack of an instrument cluster in front of the driver. It is also the hub to change climate control, fan vent directions, seat heaters and all other vehicle settings.
Tesla does not offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection.
Additionally, it’s compatible with a connected Tesla mobile app that allows owners to monitor the vehicle’s status, remotely precondition the cabin, and even use their smartphones as the sole car key in lieu of the included Tesla Key Card.
Price and models
Model 3 RWD – $65,500 before on-road costs
The single-motor Model 3 RWD model comes with as standard:
- 60.5kWh (gross) LFP battery
- 18-inch Aero wheels
- Black vegan interior with wood decor
- 15-inch central infotainment system with cellular connectivity, over-the-air software update capabilities, and 30-day Premium Connectivity trial
- Tesla Vision Basic Autopilot active safety assistance systems (details above)
- Dual Qi wireless charging pad with four USB-C charging ports
- Partial premium interior and upgraded audio
- 128GB USB-A stick for dashcam and Sentry Mode recording
- LED headlights, daytime running lights and taillights
- Dual-zone climate control
- Fixed tinted panoramic glass roof
- Power folding, auto-dimming, heated wing mirrors
- Power adjustable front seats
- Heated front and rear seats
- Interior floor mats
- Double-glazed front windows
Model 3 Long Range – $80,000 before on-road costs
The dual-motor Long Range AWD adds:
- 82kWh (gross) NCA battery
- LED front fog lights
- Premium interior with premium audio (13 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amps)
Model 3 Performance – $91,600 before on-road costs
The dual-motor Performance AWD adds:
- 21-inch Überturbine wheels
- Performance brakes with red-painted callipers
- Carbon fibre rear spoiler lip
- Lowered suspension
- Aluminium pedals
- Track mode
- Increased top speed to 261km/h (up from 225-233km/h)
- Standard paint – no cost: Pearl White Multi-Coat
- Premium paint – $1500: Solid Black, Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, Red Multi-Coat ($2900)
- Black and white vegan interior – $1500
- 19-inch Sport wheels (RWD and Long Range only) – $2200
- Enhanced Autopilot – $5100: Details above
- ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ – $10,100: Details above
- Premium Connectivity – $9.99/month: Details above
- Tesla Mobile Connector three-pin charging cable – $550
Warranty and servicing
Tesla backs its models with a four-year/80,000km vehicle warranty and roadside assistance with a different high-voltage battery warranty depending on the drivetrain variant.
For the base Model 3 RWD, it has a battery warranty of eight-years/160,000km, whereas the larger Model 3 Long Range and Performance battery is covered for eight-years/192,000km. Tesla promises it’ll keep 70 per cent of its health over the coverage period.
The fledgeling American carmaker adopts a condition-based servicing scheme, meaning the vehicle will notify the owner when it's due for a check-up via the mobile app to book a service centre or mobile service appointment.
Tesla also recommends a range of specific routine maintenance tasks, including:
- Cabin air filter – every two years
- Tyre rotation, balance and wheel alignment – every 10,000km or if the tread depth difference is 1.5mm or more
- Brake fluid test – every two years
- Air conditioning desiccant bag – replace every six years
- Brake calliper clean and lubrication – every 12 months/20,000km (for cars operating in cold weather regions only)
How does it compare to other EVs?
UPDATE 8/7/22: Tesla has removed the included Mobile Connector three-pin trickle charging cable in Australia. It is now available as an optional accessory for $550 (previously $860).
Figures by Danny Thai
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