The Tesla Model 3 is considered one of the most efficient EVs you can buy, and for this reason, it offers plenty of range. Meanwhile, many Model 3 rivals aren't that efficient.
According to Recurrent, the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range has an EPA fuel economy rating of 142 MPGe, which is super impressive. Stepping up to the Model 3 Performance lowers that number to 113 MPGe.
The Nissan Leaf, which is smaller than the Model 3 and has much less range, earns an EPA fuel economy rating of 113 MPGe. Clearly, the Leaf is much more efficient than most cars, but not nearly as efficient as the Model 3. In fact, the Leaf, though far from a performance car, nets about the same MPGe as the performance-oriented Model 3.
At InsideEVs, we rarely talk about EV fuel economy using MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent). While MPGe probably makes more sense to the average car driver who has been looking at mpg for years, there's arguably a better way to note an EV's efficiency.
Recurrent also compares the Model 3 and Leaf using our preferred method, which is miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Essentially, the rating simply tells you how far you can expect the car to travel using one kilowatt-hour of energy. The Model 3 is rated to travel between 3.33 and 4.17 miles per kWh. Meanwhile, the Leaf can go 2.94 to 3.45 miles.
With all of that said, Recurrent's recent study suggests that the Model 3 is actually less efficient than the Leaf in real-world driving. However, it's not that the EPA is wrong or that the cars are rated incorrectly. Instead, it comes down to the drivers. Recurrent shares:
"Nissan LEAF efficiency is better in real-world daily driving than the Tesla Model 3. In our experiment, we collected nearly 500,000 data points from 99 vehicles (half Nissans and half Teslas) for 12 weeks between November and March. The real world results were clear."
While the study put the Model 3 at an average of 3.39 mi/kWh, the Leaf came in at 3.71 mi/kWh. It became clear based on the numbers that Tesla EV drivers are driving more inefficiently than Nissan EV drivers.
Recurrent suggests that Tesla drivers tend to expect comfort, so they may use climate control to a greater degree. Model 3 owners also likely appreciate the car's performance, and they may take advantage of its instant and eager acceleration often, or at least from time to time. Moreover, a Model 3 driver may not be so concerned about accelerating quickly and burning up the electric miles since the car has plenty of range to spare.
An EV like the Leaf has much less range than the Model 3, and that means Leaf drivers will probably have more range anxiety. This could lead them to drive more efficiently to conserve energy. At the same time, it could encourage them to be careful with overdoing it on the HVAC settings, especially if the car's range is getting low.
Recurrent is clear to point out that it's not suggesting that Model 3 drivers are jerks and Leaf drivers are hypermilers. However, the obvious capabilities of the car clearly come into play, and it makes sense that the drivers of these cars would take advantage of the capabilities in different ways.
There are many more details in the study, so be sure to visit Recurrent at the source link below. Once you've had a chance to check it all out, head down to our comment section and let us know your thoughts.