Engineering Explained Upgrades To Tesla Model 3 Performance


Explains how the Model 3 rear motor might work.

Jason Fenske, of the popular Engineering Explained Youtube channel, has traded in his Tesla Model 3. His new car, which he says is a huge improvement, is also a Tesla Model 3. The video above doesn’t just fill us in on why he made the switch. It also gets into the inner workings of the Model 3 rear motor and how that played a part in his decision. We’ll give you a quick synopsis here, though, in case you don’t have the time to watch. (We do recommend it though)

When Fenske first got his Model 3 Mid Range rear-wheel-drive he seemed pretty happy with it. It was the most affordable version available, yet still boasted a reassuring 264 miles of EPA-rated range. Sure, there were some issues with it upon delivery that weren’t really acceptable, but those could be dealt with. Still, it didn’t quite seem to spark joy like he had thought it would. The problem, it seems, had to do with the acceleration.

The mid-size Tesla sedan uses a unique type of permanent magnet motor. According to Fenske, it is a permanent magnet switched reluctance motor (PMSRM), which has a higher efficiency while costing less. With no AC induction motor on the front axle — used in the all-wheel-drive versions of the car — the Mid Range rear-wheel-drive version lacked that instant torque that is generally the hallmark of electric vehicles.

Fenske tells us this is because a PMSRM has to deal with a unique phenomenon called torque ripple. In order to this from making acceleration feel uneven, power is meted out in a slightly limited fashion. While still capable of a 5.6-second sprint from 0-to-60 miles per hour, the performance edge felt blunted.

The obvious fix to this situation was the one the affable host took. He traded in his car for a Performance variant. As you can see in the video, he is extremely happy with the new car. Besides having much better panel alignment and only a couple very minor paint issues, it gives him that deeply satisfying instant acceleration response he felt was missing. With 310 EPA-rated miles, it also gives his range a significant boost. Then there are the extra features like “track mode.”

Besides the info in the video, Fenske also answered a couple questions in the text of the video description dealing with the price of everything and how he knows he didn’t get special treatment. We’ve added that just below. Enjoy!

Video description:

I Sold My Tesla Model 3 Mid-Range & Bought A Model 3 Performance!

After driving the Tesla Model 3 mid-range, I regretted not opting to upgrade to the Performance AWD Model 3. The Model 3 mid-range features a unique permanent magnet rear motor, which gives it different driving characteristics versus many other electric cars, including the Model S and Model X, which both use induction motors. This video will cover what the differences in the motors are (front and rear), how this affects the driving characteristics of the car, the mechanical differences between the mid-range and Performance, as well as the overall condition that my Tesla Model 3 Performance arrived in.

How Do I Know I Didn’t Get Special Treatment From Tesla With Paint Repair/Car Exchange?

First off, this seems strange to me, but many have asked if I somehow received special treatment with regards to getting paint fixed, ordering the Tesla, delivery, etc. That’s not how Tesla works, nor myself, but here’s how I know that no special treatment was provided:

1. Both previous videos were filmed before either video was released. I took delivery of the Model 3 Performance BEFORE the video about paint scratches went live. Hence, Tesla had not seen that I had publicly posted paint issues until I already had my new vehicle. The paint video was filmed before I had decided I was going to trade-in the Mid-Range.

2. I specifically selected the vehicle which I bought. I called Tesla to find out what was in inventory, and I selected a red M3P from that inventory, with VIN. Tesla did not choose the new car for me.

3. When I received the Mid-Range with paint scratches, I called Tesla SLC for the fix. I had heard horror stories from friends about the process required to get the paint repaired (multiple body shop visits, coming back worse than before, loss in value from repaint, etc) so I decided against getting the repair and asked Tesla if they could compensate me at all for the damaged paint instead of dealing with the hassle of repair shops. I felt $2,500 was an unjustified payment for the red paint if it arrives defective/scratched. Tesla said they would get back to me about this. They never did before trading in the car.

4. I only put 49 miles on the car before calling Tesla to inform them I wanted to exchange it for the Performance. This was outside of the 3-day return window (we had a bunch of snow after I took delivery, so I waited until snow had melted before driving for the video review, thus no 3-day window). Tesla said they might be able to switch the car due to the special circumstances (71 miles on the odometer, typical 3-day window needs mileage under 500). Then, they told me they could not.

How Much Did All Of This Cost?

– I bought the Model 3 Mid-Range in November 2018. $46,000 base price.

– $2,500 red paint option, $1,500 19” wheel option, and $1,200 delivery. Total: $51,200 – $7,500 tax credit. Actual Total: $43,700

– The trade-in value of the Mid-Range was $43,200. A $500 loss. The $7,500 tax credit can only be applied to the first buyer, so it instantly loses this much in value. Essentially, buying used means getting the tax credit up front.

– I bought the Model 3 Performance in December 2018. $64,000 base price.

– $2,500 red paint option, and $1,200 for delivery. Total: $67,700 – $7,500 tax credit. Actual Total: $60,200

– Total Cost To Upgrade To Model 3 Performance: $17,000

Source: YouTube

Categories: Tesla, Videos

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16 Comments on "Engineering Explained Upgrades To Tesla Model 3 Performance"

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Do you still get the tax credit even if you only had the car for few days? I thought you had to keep the car for a while? This was asked before, no answer.

That story was from 2014, bit of a zombie thread, so I’ll answer here and not there.

First off, for anybody even contemplating trying to manipulate the system and churn EV’s for the tax credits with no intention of actually owning an EV, that is felony tax fraud. Anyone planning on that, please post your detailed plans here so I can turn you in and claim a percent of your fine as a reward.

There is no fixed time period for how long you have to keep the car after you put it into service. But like all tax credits, you cannot do a “straw transaction” just for the purpose of getting the tax credit. You need to purchase the car with the genuine intent to put the vehicle into service and genuinely place the car into service. You can’t buy it with the intent of reselling it and still take the credit.

If one drives the car just a week, sell and get another and so on and on claiming to try out various cars (eg. posting youtube video about each car), how could intent be proved that he didn’t simply do it to sell? I suppose it’d nab the really stupid people, but it seems “intent” doesn’t really do anything in legal sense. At least I hope it doesn’t do anything for Jason’s sake.

He bought another EV, of the exact same model no less. His actions were completely in the spirit of the reasons the tax credit exists. No need to over-analyze it

Nope. First titled owner can claim the credit. Period. There’s no further analysis or qualification requirements. That’s the only rule. How do you think it works for leasing companies.

I think there was a requirement about length of ownership, you had to own the car for at least a year before attempting to re-sell, otherwise you risk the forfeit of credit.

If he would have sold that on auto trader or similar he could have gotten closer to 49K-50k for his original 3.

By trading it in to Tesla, he pays sales tax only on the difference in the price of the Performance M3 he’s buying and the trade-in value of the Mid-range M3.

What? How is it possible?

He has no technical understanding about PMSRM and torque ripple.

When I calculate the cost of a vehicle, I include sales tax and car registration fees, usually cost additional 10% of the purchase price that he didn’t include.

The MR vehicle may have a gentle torque slew rate, but it’s unlikely that was done to mitigate torque ripple. I think it more likely that Tesla did it separate their performance models from base models more.

Torque ripple is indeed an issue, but there are design factors that can reduce it, like rotor skew, for example.

The so called PMSRM is not different than the majority of INTERIOR permanent magnet machines used in industry. All have a component of reluctance torque due to the saliency of the rotor.

To imply that this type of motor requires intentional torque reduction of the line to reduce torque ripple is false.

Hmmm. I wondered what Kenneth from 30 Rock was doing these days…interesting gig.

Jason is a pretty sharp guy, but his description of the Model 3 rear motor as a PMSRM reluctance type motor varies significantly from what Sandy Munro showed on his recent Autoline video that expanded on Munro’s Model 3 teardown.

Sandy describes a PMSM synchronous permanent magnet motor with 3-phase windings in the stator and magnets embedded in the rotor, with a twist. Tesla designed the rotor to use a “Halbach array” of rotor magnets glued together in a special way to increase net magnetic field strength and reduces or eliminates the rotor magnetic iron, eliminating energy losses via magnetic hysteresis. Switched reluctance requires a lot of steel in the rotor – as Jason described.

The MR, LR, and P all use essentially the same rear motor, from what I’ve understood. Why not? Sandy pointed out how it is cheaper, more efficient and more powerful than any other EV motor he’s seen. The difference per Tesla, at least between the LR RWD and P rear motor, has been re-rating the motors for different HP’s via post-assembly stress-testing (“double-burn-in” per Elon). I suspect the MR performance problem he referenced is largely software driven.

The “torque ripple” explanation is BS. Torque ripple is caused by variation it the force applied to the rotor as the poles move through the magnetic field. It manifests itself as vibration or humming noise at the frequency of the motor rpm times the number of poles (erpm) and harmonics above that. It occurs in all electric motors and there are multiple was to manage and reduce it. Limiting throttle response is not one of them.

In the case of the model 3 with a 6 pole motor, at 10 mph it would be above 120Hz, ie a low hum or tone. This is not on the same time scale as the throttle response lag described in the video.

I normally like his videos as he is good at explaining, and has very interesting topics. But this one looks more like just a clickgrab making a quick profit as Tesla videos sell. Contrary to his normal videos he provided no data or proof that the midrange motor has a another power or torque curve then the same motor on the performance. It was all just his feel, and no wonder you get a different response with 4 wheel drive and 2 motors then just 1 on the rear axle. No wonder a car that is 18k more expensive has a better performance. People would complain and rightly so if they would only get the higher capacity and an additional motor but not better performance for handing over 18k more for the car. About the panel-gap and paint issues, this was just bad luck that he received a car with that many minor issues could also have been the other way around that the midrange had been fine and the performance had the issues. For a daily commute with some long range driving on weekends, I still would say the midrange is the more sensible option, unless you have the… Read more »