The latest video from the Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel brought us two things we thought were impossible. The first one was Rich Benoit testing a Model 3. It was not any Model 3, mind you: it was a Performance unit, and he was honestly impressed with it. The second was an apology to Tesla based on something we also did not expect. According to Benoit, no salvage Model 3 was affected by Tesla’s new Unsupported Vehicle Policy. Is this possible?
Update: We thought the Model 3 never had free unlimited supercharging, but the Performance did, even if very briefly. The text has been corrected to reflect that.
According to Benoit, it is. He helped build one with the Electrified Garage, and that unit still supercharges. There are other salvage Model 3 units he knows, and all of them still supercharge as well.
That made us wonder if that was not a scaled deactivation of supercharging and fast charging. It could have started with Model S and Model X vehicles and is yet to hit the Model 3, but what would be the difficulty in doing it all at once? Benoit believes they were spared on purpose. This is precisely why he apologizes – in a sarcastic way.
Gallery: Rich Rebuilds Says Tesla Is Sparing Model 3s From Supercharging Ban
The youtuber says he thought Tesla was doing it for safety concerns, as the company officially states, but that it really made it for the money. Tesla seems to be on a battle to make more money by all means, as we wrote a while ago.
The explanation is simple: the Model S and the Model X had the offer of free supercharging for life. We thought the Model 3 never had it, but Mikesaurus clarified it actually did, even if briefly: from August 2018 up to September 16, 2018.
Ending supercharging for the older vehicles would cut that cost. Forbidding Model Ss and Model Xs to fast charge in other networks would also allow them not to give money to other companies.
Most Model 3 units always had to pay for supercharging. Besides, it is called the California Camry for being extremely popular. Cutting it from supercharging, even if only salvage units, could hurt supercharging revenues.
We would add another possible aspect for the Model S and Model X restrictions on Superchargers: concerns about battery safety. What if these first battery packs do not deal well with supercharging or fast charging when they age? Tesla has even made an update that is now in courts because it capped voltage in Model S and Model X battery packs.
The company has also developed a new 85 kWh battery pack with 350V instead of the original 400V 85 kWh battery pack that it had in its vehicles. The first one to tell us about this was Chilam, a Tesla Motors Club Forum member that reported it on January 13, 2020. On that forum thread, this person took a picture of the new battery pack, and its part number is 1014116-00-A.
Soon after he talked about this new battery pack, it was still available at Tesla’s part catalog, but it is not anymore. We are not sure if the part was discontinued or if it is now only available for Tesla Service Centers to see and not to the general public anymore. Why would Tesla create it and abandon it so fast? Worse still, why would it decide to hide it?
If Tesla really decided to cut supercharging and fast charging only for Model S and Model X units, perhaps it was both a safety and a money concern – due to liabilities.
With the software updates 2019.16.1 or 2019.16.2, Tesla made these owners give up on supercharging because it is just not practical anymore. With the Unsupported Vehicle Policy, it only forbade salvage vehicles from doing that once and for all.
If you have a salvage Model 3, please let us know if you still can supercharge or fast charge your car. Tesla may start blocking that. If it doesn’t, it may indirectly confirm the suspicion that the Unsupported Vehicle Policy seemed broad but had a particular target: troublesome battery packs on the Model S and Model X.