Comparing Tesla Model 3 EPA Ratings: Tested Versus Advertised


The Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD and Performance models aren’t as efficient as the RWD model. But yet they have received the same advertised range.

We’ve known for a while that the “Dual Motor” All Wheel Drive (AWD) and Performance (P) models of the Model 3 would likely be less efficient than the standard Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) model. Earlier this month, documents from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) were leaked. They showed that the RWD model has an extended driving range over AWD under the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS) testing cycle. The AWD/P models earned a 455-mile rating compared to 495 miles for the RWD model.

The UDDS has a lower average speed to simulate primarily city driving. Typically, the EPA advertised range is rated at ~70% of the UDDS range. Here are the current EPA ratings for the 2018 Model 3:

Model 3 EPA range and MPGe numbers

The higher range for the RWD model surprised many since the opposite was true of Tesla’s other models. Interestingly, the 2018 Model 3 RWD rating has actually seen a minor boost in efficiency over the 2017 model:

Model 3 2017 Rating

Since the EPA and CARB documents indicate lower efficiency for the AWD and P models, why is the EPA range identical across all 3?

For the Model 3 RWD, Tesla voluntarily reduced the EPA advertised range to the current 310-mile combined range. Based on the UDDS range, the EPA range should be about 340 miles. This reduction is not unusual and is encouraged by testing agencies. It is not the first time Tesla has done this and InsideEVs has reported this reduction in the past regarding the Model 3.

The AWD/P Models were not voluntarily reduced to the same degree. Based on the UDDS range, the EPA range should be around 315 miles. So why are all models rated at 310? It is possible Tesla did not want to make the AWD/P models seem in any way “inferior” to the RWD model. It also puts the differentiating factor on the performance of the vehicle rather than the range. Under-reporting the lower-priced Model 3’s might also be a smart move since more of the buyers will have less experience with electric vehicle ranges.

So for Model 3 buyers: RWD is the most efficient and will result in the longest real-world driving range. If you live in an area with harsh winters, you would get the most benefit out of the “Dual Motor” AWD models. Finally, if money is no object and you “gotta go fast” then the Performance model is a no-brainer.

While researching for this article, we came across an excellent chart from Tesla Motors Club user Troy. It lists reported ranges from CARB and EPA testing cycles and estimated ranges based on driving speeds.  He updates the chart regularly so it is worth checking out. Elsewhere on the site, Troy also explains how Tesla voluntarily reduced the range on the RWD model.

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39 Comments on "Comparing Tesla Model 3 EPA Ratings: Tested Versus Advertised"

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Model 3 Long Range RWD with 18″ wheels is really impressive for range. That would be the long distance driver for sure (not that the other Long Range models are that much worse). 19″ tires/wheels alone drops 10% off your range. Model 3 Performance 20″ and you are down 20% (63 miles less practical range). That is getting noticeable, but maybe still acceptable for most.

That chart is awesome, got it bookmarked now.

Right?? I did also, very useful!

That makes at least four of us! 🙂

Moderator: Can you address today’s LA Times story on Tesla Service, perhaps with a poll of Tesla owners. I am considering a Model 3, and this story is a potential problem for me. Service is very important. Thank you.

We are already looking into this and should have a story up today or tomorrow. 🙂

Thank you.

I’ve never waited long for 3 service.

You can see numerous youtube videos on Tesla service woes. But things will get better as the company matures, because Tesla is going to survive. Sure, current stock price may be swinging, but the long term viability is fairly certain.

Don’t understand why people complain. What did they expect from a garage company?

Not a very nice thing to say.

That is because “James” is just another serial anti Tesla and anti-EV troll d-bag posting from HIS ICE garage!

That is so wrong! They have a tent now.

It’s not a tent. It’s a stressed fabric structure. 😉

The last 3 vehicles I’ve owned needed to go back to the shop one time total, and that’s a combined mileage of 150K. If a vehicle is reliable then service IS NOT that important.

Service is like insurance: It’s not important until you need it.

That said, I don’t think we should pay much attention to the outlier anecdotes of overly long waits for Tesla service, which are seized upon and repeated ad nauseum by the Tesla Hater Cultists.

I’m sure that for every brand of car, you can find horror stories of people having to wait ridiculously long times to get their car serviced. If those other brands had as many FUDsters actively attacking their brand on a daily basis as Tesla does, then we’d see a lot more similar stories from legacy car owners.

Go Tesla!

I think you kind of contradicted yourself here. You admitted your vehicle had to go to the shop once, even though it was presumably reliable. If the service sucks or is extremely backlogged then you could have been forced to suffer from the problem for a long time. Reliable or not, all it takes is a single issue to make service important.

Since CA has such a high concentration of Teslas, this is not surprising. I’m my metro area of 1 million people (Raleigh, NC) we have one service center. I made an appointment two days later from the call. Talking to the service people, they said it is getting rather hectic. The service center has to prep all the incoming new cars as well as service existing ones.

I picked up my model 3 two month ago from Rocklin and didn’t like a loose plastic piece outside the windshield so I scheduled a service appointment for the following Friday which I couldn’t make and postponed it for another week. When I got there the service was a five star I was given a loaner car but since they were out of Tesla loners I had to choose between a BMW convertible, Infinity QX70 and Cadillac. I choose the infinity and it came with a full tank of gas and they ask you not to pay for gas and its OK to bring it empty or if you need to buy gas bring the receipt and they will pay you for the gas. Two days later the car was ready. This was on of the better service experiences I had.

Thanks for your report! Exemplary service like this is one of the reasons why Tesla tops the list for customer satisfaction every year, on Consumer Reports‘ survey of car owners.

All too many Tesla bashers would like us to forget that Tesla has a well-earned reputation for treating its customers well.

Russ Mitchell is a known anti Tesla. Read any Tesla article from him with a ton of salt.

I’ve been looking at Model 3 ordering and noticed late last night that all models now show availability in 2-4 months. Earlier yesterday the RWD and P-AWD models showed 1-3 months.

Lack of demand… /sarcasm

I keep hoping the stock doubles by tomorrow so I can order one 😉

They changed it to make look like there is high demand, like Apple does with every new Iphone

If I could be absolutely sure they would deliver by 12/31 I’d probably pull the trigger. They should offer to refund the deposit on any order that isn’t delivered by then.

Also, for a given config they should know the delivery date within a much smaller window (week or two).

Not likely, James. It most likely means that they worked through the US backlog.

My lifetime (well 2 month) average is 242 Wh/mi which translates into 310 miles per full charge. I’ve been 75% city, 25% highway during 85-100F weather. Also have 18″ with aero covers on. 310 miles seems like a pretty good number for EPA. In winter I will definitely see a drop in range. I highly doubt the 340 mile number.

AWD is shorter range than RWD. Weird. Performance AWD is same range as AWD. Extra helping of weird. How is this possible?

With regard to the former, we can only assume the second drive unit’s mass “outweighs” its efficiency benefits (from causing the car to have a de facto second gear). (This still has me perplexed for the highway result, which is less impacted by total weight.) With regard to the latter, we can assume the differences between AWD and Performance AWD only apply at the bottom of the accelerator pedal (where the testing procedure perhaps does not venture) or in a particular software Performance Mode.

I am still plenty perplexed.

Why is it weird that the Performance variant has the same efficiency? Just because more power is available, doesn’t mean more is used in the same driving cycle…

Because all of Tesla’s performance models have lower efficiency than the non-performance, dual-motor versions.

I am just as confused as Anderlan. The ratings make no sense at all. Based on the S and X, the dual-motor variants will have more range at highway speeds, and a tiny bit less range in city driving, resulting in an overall net improvement in range. The performance would be better than the RWD, but less than the non-performance AWD.

Very strange.

The Model S and X performance variants actually have a different, heavier drive unit than the standard variants. The Model 3 performance variant on the other hand uses the same drive units as the standard variant; just picks the best ones and pushes them harder.

Model S and X dual motor variants have more range, since induction motors have a fairly narrow band of optimal efficiency, and thus different gearing between the motors allows operating them at better efficiency. The main motor in Model 3 is an internal permanent magnet motor, which has a wide range of good efficiency to begin with; so the second motor doesn’t help on that score — it just adds weight…

I’d say the same thing, Antrik, but in a more simplified way: The Model 3 design is optimized for very high energy efficiency, moreso than the MS or the MX. As a result, any change to that maximum design for efficiency, even adding a second motor/ drivetrain, results in lower efficiency.

I think you’re right about why the Performance version isn’t any less energy efficient in EPA tests, too.

So, you are assuming that the gearing for the front motor is the same as the rear motor in the 3? Do we know this? Are Tesla engineers & management stupid enough to make an AWD version less efficient than the RWD of same?

One of the great wonders of Tesla was to have an AWD variant that made the vehicle more efficient overall than the RWD version, which is opposite to what ICE vehicles are capable of (without some electrification). Musk emphasized that fact in the run up to the AWD release in the S way back when.

Well, regardless of the assumptions and means… if the ranges turn out to be true, then I’ll be saving myself $4k and going with the RWD option. Tesla’s traction control is unmatched, so I’ll feel reasonably safe in all seasons with RWD.

TomArt – The AWD has faster acceleration to 60 MPH at 4.5 seconds versus 5.1 seconds for RWD.

Yeah, I know, but I’d like to see what the difference is in range before I commit.

“…we can only assume the second drive unit’s mass “outweighs” its efficiency benefits…”

It’s not so much the mass; that has comparatively little effect on range, no more than carrying a passenger in your car. It’s more the increased friction from a second drivetrain. The motor itself probably doesn’t add much extra friction, but the second set of reduction gears and driveshaft(s) certainly do.

I don’t really like this adjusting nonsense. I don’t care if the EPA encourages it or not. I want reliable info on how a car performs. I don’t want to pick a car thinking it has better economy, only to find out that someone voluntarily reduced the rating on another car that was in fact better.

They will get sued if they get the real range wrong. Tires on the various models is what’s making the ranges swing most. Tesla doesn’t know what tires or wheels sizes will be ordered , if an owner will keep the wheel covers on, etc.

I agree, Asak, but it seems to be one of the risks to being a Tesla early-adopter. I’m content to sit back and see what real-world ranges people get as more of each type get on the road and forums start filling up with data from drivers.