My Tesla Model 3 Review Part 3

I just want to compile some thoughts and info here. I’ve gotten over 1000 miles and a couple more road trips under the belt. Some local driving, too, LOL.

Parts 1 and 2 linked.

A lot of people’s reaction to the Model 3 is based on what they are used to. We are all used to ICE cars, but those run the gamut. I came from a Mazda MX-5, but if all you drove were plush luxury cars or Toyota Camrys or pickup trucks, those people will have different first impressions and reactions. So take that as a major consideration when you read reviews online. On Youtube, a lot of the vbloggers also live in Socal, which reflects a drastically different experience than the US Northeast. Plus, things have changed a lot for the Model 3 even between Q1 2018 and Q3 2018, just in terms of firmware updates, supercharger availability (and other chargers), and the amount of accessories out there. At first, I watch/read a lot of car magazine type reviews, and those tend to consistently praise the Model 3, so I knew that was a trustworthy baseline. In my month+ with the car, I heartily concur with those car/driving-based reviews. The Model 3 is a fun vehicle, and I even came from a MX-5 daily driver! It’s not as emotional, but at the same time it is definitely more American than Audi/BMW/MB, and overall “quality” but not “luxuriously quality.” It’s got a lot of quality components, that were put together fine, but it just isn’t quite on the same level of a top level European or Japanese car maker in terms of the construction. But it isn’t a negative or a minus, just different.

On the cost of ownership side, I can say that it is definitely anywhere between 20% to 75% less expensive to fuel up the vehicle compared to a similar ICE car. If you compare it with a similar BMW 3 series you will be putting in premium 92+ octane fuel at like, 25mpg at best, depending on your driving situation. I think the Model 3 beat it by a ton, but given the cost of the car itself that is not much more than a drop in the bucket. If you drive 15000 a year that’s about $400-600 in electricity cost, which is not even close to gas. Of course, if you live in non-USA where gas is probably twice the price, you’ll save over two thousand USD a year if not more, so it makes a lot of sense in Asia and Europe..

What you really save for us Americans is maintenance. You don’t need to change any oils or any oil filters. The only fluids relevant here are brake fluid, coolant, and wiper fluid. The last you’re on your own, but the other two are done only by Tesla maint team annually during the checkup. I think you get at least 2 for free… Model 3 maintenance is an unanswered question at this point.

The brake pad can wear out, so that might be the only other thing you’re “using” with the Model 3 other than the wheels/tires. The wheels are the usual deal.

One note I want to add is charging at home in general, it can be tricky. Installing a 14-50 plug is overall the best way to charge–could be other types of level 2 charging. The reason is you get good efficiency without possibly damaging the battery. Although some reports out there suggest supercharging doesn’t really matter, which might be the case in the end. However, what I am doing now is using a household 110v plug, which has lower efficiency and will cost probably 10% or 20% more in power overhead.

Vampire discharge is an issue, especially if you park in the sun during summer, the AC may run, the fan may run. Even if you don’t,  you might lose a few miles a day. It isn’t anything to worry about if you are on a road trip, but if you don’t live with a garage that you can plug your car in, that might be an issue. Overall it is basically a non-issue for me.

Living with the 110v plug does mean you have to plug in basically all the time, but since I don’t drive every day, this is more than doable. I might put in a 14-50 plug in my garage in the future, but it’s not necessary. You can definitely get by with 110v if you can keep the car plugged in when not in use, and drive less than maybe 40-50 miles per day on average. I get up to 5 miles per hour while charging, so assuming I can charge 12 hours a day, that’s 60 miles. You can do the math.

One more note before I move on, the right way to calculate cost of charging is:

  1. supercharging costs–when you supercharge a Model 3, just plug it in. Tesla then bills you later via your account assuming a credit card is hooked up to it. It will also show up online and in the battery menu in the Model 3 console.
  2. cost of electricity: you can prorate any carriage costs that you paid. Note that some youtuber in San Diego pays 22 cent per kwh, that’s nuts. I pay like 12c, FWIW.
  3. cost of charging: The amount of electricity gained by charging the car is not the same as the amount of electricity used to charge the car, since charging is not 100% efficient. If you use level 2 chargers it’s like 90%. if you use 110v plugs, it’s 70-80%.
  4. amount of power consumed per mile/unit time: Also, the power used by the car includes not just for moving the wheels, but all of the car’s systems. It might make more sense to do a month of charging, and a month of driving, and just clash the numbers together, instead of measuring it on a per-trip or per-mile basis.

So you tally up that total and you’ll have your charging costs, and you can divide that into miles driven to get a per-mile price. Like I said, it’s kind of a drop in the bucket, but it does add up. Maybe I’m just biased because I drive so little.

The Model 3 ownership experience, as I said before, is also about the lack of good info for a revolutionary car. There is quite a bit of a learning curve for people who has never owned an Tesla or electric car. It is not comfortable for many new owners, I imagine. The owner’s manual is important and covers all the key elements, but it doesn’t address the ownership experience well. The youtube videos you are suppose to watch online is also just the minimum.

Tesla’s Model 3 first-party accessory game is kind of eh. The third party game has been better, but with spiking delivery rates, comes spiked demands. I got the bare minimum for my car, and some cleaning equipment, but there are more I could use. For example, I could use a good trunk mat set that lets you protect both the top and bottom layers, and let you access the lower layer.

Lastly, here are some Youtube videos about the Model 3 that probably are helpful for new people. I found these to be worth watching.

Undocumented features ahoy: This relatively no-nonsense review of the car is pretty good covering some details and features I didn’t know after even owning the car for a month.

Road trip experience video below is basically the same as my own experience. Especially that part where parking at the supercharger require you back up all the way, since I made the same mistake. The tiny butt and the fact that the rear wheels are almost at the edge of the car takes a bit of getting used to while parking. I also experienced the same wiper issue this guy did.

I’m linking the below video for the center console wrap. That is sick. I personally use a different floor liner but these looks worse than mine, although I’m sure it works just fine. The waterless car wash is an eye opener for me. But this video is a shameless shill, at least it’s educational for a car care noob like myself.

I guess if there are updates to the ownership experience, I might write more on this. But that’s probably it for now.