A Hidden Reason To Buy A Rear-Wheel-Drive Tesla Model 3 Long Range

Blue Tesla Model 3


The Tesla Model 3 Long Range comes with Model 3 Performance rear-motor horsepower and torque.

We keep getting great news on the performance capabilities of the new Tesla Model 3 and the story is getting even better. First off, the Model 3 charges faster than even Tesla’s Model S 100D (see excellent analysis by ABRP). Second, it has great range. Third, owners appear to be getting mid-4-second 0-60-mph acceleration times, which is much quicker than Tesla’s advertised number (data here).

Why? Is it a fluke? Is it just one car?

One might have assumed so until we received some dyno test results from Mountain Pass Performance that show a Model 3 LR RWD putting out 325 HP and 320 ft-lb of torque. That compares to a Tesla EPA horsepower rating of 258 HP.  That’s 25% more horsepower than in the Tesla/EPA document.

Maybe the dyno numbers are wrong?

We don’t think so. We ran the exact same dyno horsepower and torque curves in our computer model and it predicts the same mid-4-second 0-60-mph time as the tested number.

To be clear, the 325 HP dyno number is with a fully charged battery. Perhaps the Tesla/EPA motor HP number is quoted at a lower charge level? That makes sense at first glance but Mountain Pass engineering ran the dyno test at lower charge levels. Even at low SOC’s, the tested HP came out higher than the Tesla/EPA HP number.

We are at a bit of a loss explaining why Tesla is shipping some (all?) Model 3 LR RWD cars with rear-motor HP specs rivaling the Performance version, but why look a gift horse in the mouth?

Analytical charts

Our performance computer model generates some interesting plots for those that want more details. The first plot is simply our representation of the Mountain Pass dyno data. This map was input to our computer model to predict 0-60-mph times and quarter-mile times.

The second chart shows what our model predicts for distance versus time and the corresponding quarter mile time.

The third chart shows velocity versus time and the corresponding 0-60-mph time prediction.

Thanks to Keith Ritter for the computer modeling numbers

Categories: Tesla

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

45 Comments on "A Hidden Reason To Buy A Rear-Wheel-Drive Tesla Model 3 Long Range"

newest oldest most voted

FYI, Autobild did some official measurements in Europe with M3LR.
0-160 km/h ( 0-100 mph ) in 13,2 seconds
0-200 km/h ( 0-125 mph ) in 23,5 seconds.


I guess we know the 100-125mph roll-on for the M3LR. The converse is how much 0-60 acceleration gas cars give up on the other end.

“In EU”, someone might not give up 160-200 km/h, before they would give up a 4.5 second 0-100, for a 5.5 second 0-100 (0-62mph). I think most would decide on 0, to highway speed, maybe 70mph, performance.

Thanks for the info and link, ZOE. I looked at Autobild’s complete acclesration results on the link you provided – their measured acceleration speeds closely matched what our calcs estimate for a 271 HP motor output, not the 320 HP output that Mountain Pass measured. Example: Autobild measured 5.5 seconds 0-60 km/h (62 mph), which works out to about 5.2 seconds 0-60 mph. The 0-200 km/h time also was very close to what I calc’ed for 271 HP motor output.

That gives me reason to think Tesla’s RWD drive units that they install in the LR RWD version may have a range of max HP ratings. These high HP, faster-than-spec’ed acceleration times, though common, are a random free “bonus” and not “guaranteed”.


Mopar (Plymouth) use to ship 400hp cars in the 1960s that were way underrated also. Insurance reasons was the logic.

The Model 3 LR RWD is the secret bargain. Just as fast and more efficient means quicker long distance travel especially with aero wheels and you don’t have to give up performance. Win win that is starting to win my heart over, maybe a sedan isn’t so bad after all.

Yes, anyone below the Mason-Dixon line, and doesn’t worry about snow, should just be getting the rear-wheel drive version. The additional range is great, and the efficiency will help pay off the car quicker.

I am in Iowa, we get a fair amount of snow. I would still get RWD version. Streets are plowed and using proper tires makes all the difference.

Like the RWD Model S, the weight of the battery giving better center gravity, improves the snow traction compared to any RWD ICE vehicle.

People around the world in snowy climates love the Model S RWD – the traction control is top-notch, and winter tires helps, of course.

All model 3s are the performance version. Only difference is a sofware update that un locks it.

Really? I wonder if it can be unlocked by a hacker?

not quite- the RWD is missing a second motor. 😉

Well, the Performance trim level Model 3 comes with some luxury options the non-Performance levels don’t have. But yeah, from what George and Keith say in this article, it does look like the powertrain hardware is the same; same horsepower, same torque, etc.

I think it was some time ago that it was reported the non-Performance trim levels and the Performance trim levels all use the same motor (and presumably the same integrated motor controller, which includes the inverter), so I don’t find what’s reported in this article to be surprising. Seems to me it’s merely confirming what the evidence already pointed to.

Luxury options such as…?

(It doesn’t actually include any “luxury” options the non-performance models don’t have.)

Nope, excluding binning/picking best DU’s for higher performance reliability, it’s all the inverter. RWD = 810A, same DU as performance rear DU. AWD = 500A + 500A, rear inverter handles way less power = gearing is chaged, front motor gear is more efficient. Performance = 500A + 810A, gearing is changed.

They could easily make the RWD hit faster numbers but it should be purchasable and comes with a warning because tires/traction becomes the limiting factor and easier to get into accidents.

Wrong, the manufacturing process of the motors has a sort of lottery to it, the best motors (that can handle the most power) are binned for the performance editions, dual motor and RWD get the “pretty good but not great” motors

That 258HP EPA/Tesla rating is for the standard battery pack RWD version (which does not yet exist). Tesla rates the current LR RWD @ 271HP.

What ever motor is in my Model 3 LR — it’s a burner!! No complaints here……

I agree, it’s a hoot to drive.

I wonder how the long range RWD will handle snow/ice driving conditions? Does anyone have a link to a winter driving review? I would think with the weight of the elect motor over the rear wheels and the equal weight of the battery overall it would drive on snow/ice much better than my old 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix. (Heavy 350 motor in front with rwd)

It’s all about the tires, what ever the version.

I’ve seen one or two videos from last winter from owners who picked up in California but actually lived further North.

Yu Yu also took his Model 3 into Canada last winter. He wasn’t thrilled with the experience until he switched to snow tires. It may have also been the fact he’d already put 10-20K miles on the stock tires… not sure how the treads were holding up at that point.

I haven’t seen any good videos from last winter in significant snow (more than 2″). But, the weight of the motor is over the rear wheels, which should help traction. If not, get snow tires. I’d take a RWD car with snow tires over an AWD car with all-season tires any day of the week. Plus, realistically, the car doesn’t have enough ground clearance to go through more than 5″ of snow.

Based on the above, I ordered a RWD M3, even though I’m in southern new england and see several snow storms per winter. When I ordered AWD was only $4k more, but I wanted to maximize range (AWD gets less range), and I didn’t want to risk the car not shipping before the federal credit halves.

I had a 2006 GTO with RWD and 400+ HP. With Bridgestone Blizzak WS series tires (not the LM), I could handle anything a FWD or AWD car could. The confidence on snow and ice was outstanding. If the snow was deep enough that the front bumper was acting like a plow, that’s when trouble started, but that is true of any car. You need ground clearance or you’ll get high centered and lose traction. If there’s 12 inches of snowfall where you live and the plows don’t get to your street, and your job depends on you being available at any moment, you really need an SUV/Jeep/Truck.

I recently picked up a used Model-3 LR (yes.. those exist already on the used market!) and I was also quite surprised at the performance.

Do you still have the Gen2 Volt?

Are you now going to male a follow up video comparing Volt and Model 3 in real life?

shush! Tesla might limit it with an update now!

Good points, George. I bite my tongue a bit, but who can blame Tesla buyers who’ve seen how Model S RWD and AWD cars had better than advertised performance, as “Performance” versions merely delivered the numbers? Then, there’s the scant hardware differences between AWD M3 and M3P. At least with PXXD Model S, the rear motors are bigger, and punch harder. Model 3P, like 85D MS, has same sized motors front/back. A few may remember the unsolicited, near 1-second 0-60 gain 85D owners received about a year after the car was introduced,

You can can sell the Model S Performance D car on its big 360KW rear motor. M3 Performance is being sold more like an unlocked 85D, than a “Performance” Model S.

This was already indirectly known–when the performance Model 3 was first announced, it was mentioned that they used a binning process kind of like Intel & AMD do with processors. They take all the motors they build, test them, and set aside the highest performing ones to be used in performance Model 3’s. Unlike processors, I’d imagine all the motors are within a pretty narrow range of performance, so it makes sense that there’s little difference in output between the rear motors of RWD and performance Model 3’s.

Long range has a PM motor.

The Model 3 motors all have permanent magnets – but not as the rotor core. They use reluctance motors, where small PMs are placed among the stator coils in specific places in order to eliminate the inherent operational instabilities of reluctance motors. Look it up, it’s pretty impressive.

The front motor, though, is an induction motor, just like the motors in the S and X.

I just picked up my LR RWD Model 3 yesterday (finally!). I can confirm that from 10 mph (after traction control gives up) to 60 mph the car has the scary quick rollercoaster feel.

I am very happy I didn’t go with the AWD, plenty fast enough and the touch of extra range/efficiency will be nice on road trips.

I haven’t pushed the cornering, as I am still getting adjusted to the traction available. But I am assuming it would need stickier/taller/wider tires to really get after the corners. I’ll consider those options once I have worn through the factory set.

Thanks again for these articles George and crew. It definitely helped me finally commit to a configuration.

P.S. I did give up on white interior. I haven’t seen it in person, but the white dash trim did not look appealing.

Congrats, Josh!

I wonder if they rated it’s 0-60 time for worst case scenario like when the pack is at a really low state of charge? So you will get 5.1 seconds with a low charge but mid 4s for a full charge.

That would make since from the various drag numbers we have seen reported.

That was my exact thought. Otherwise, there would be a Seeking Alpha article condemning Tesla for their “misleading” advertising on the “struggling Model 3.” Under promise, over deliver is always a good strategy.

Not putting out the spec’ed power ratings? Watch out, Tesla, they might sue you in Norway. 😉

I’d guess they are derating mostly for temperature and also somewhat for low state of charge. The controller, no doubt, cuts back power when it detects higher temperatures in the motor and/or the battery and/or the controller itself. A few tests on a dyno in a climate controlled shop with a fan blowing over the car just doesn’t represent what you’ll get in some situations… say if you stomp on it after waiting for a long light to heat soak the components, after you just depleted most of the battery going 80 on the freeway for the last two hours flying across the Sonoran Desert toward Phoenix in 110-degree summer heat (and 150+ degree pavement radiating directly on the battery)! Even with good cooling, some conditions just aren’t going to be conducive to components that mostly like room temperature or below (unlike combustion engines that aren’t “up to temp” until they hit 200+ degrees, so the temperature impact is much lower – though altitude is the flip story). Tesla got burned by exaggerating claims, so they’re probably being overly conservative now. Might not hurt their buyer’s insurance rates either if the official horsepower figures are a little low, too!

Do we know yet if the non performance D is faster than spec and if it really is less efficient than the rwd.

From what I’ve read so far, all Model 3 variants in current production are faster than spec, by several 10ths of a second in each case.

I am very anxious to hear whether the 3D truly has less range than the 3. It makes no sense that it would have less, given the design of the S and X, where the front motor is geared for maximizing efficiency at highway speeds.

Where I live, the cost of insurance depends in part on the power of the vehicle (because more powerful vehicles, or rather the people who drive them, are statistically more likely to cause an accident). I wonder if it could cause legal problems for Tesla to under-report the power of the car like that, since it could be seen as a form of insurance fraud.

It might be a moot point, though, because even the under-reported power rating might still fall in the highest insurance bracket. Frankly, I’d like to see Tesla offer a lower-power version of the car in the sub-100kW range, which would be more affordable to insure.

Since we have maximum torque from 0 – 6000rpm. Would it not be a good idea for electric cars in general to have gears to keep the electric motor revs within the region of maximum torque. This may also reduce “fuel” consumption at Autobahn speeds.

This is basically what the S and X AWD systems do. The front motor is geared for optimizing efficiency at highway speeds and is used almost exclusively for maintaining cruising speed. That is how the AWD S and X have longer ranges than the RWD versions used to (I know there are no RWD versions available anymore).