Ask someone to think of an electric car and they will likely conjure an image of the Tesla Model 3. Since its launch in 2017, this midsize four-door sedan has been the most popular fully electric car in the world. Its owners list handling, acceleration, and cost of ownership as the most enjoyable parts of driving a Model 3.
What is range and why would it change?
For any all-electric vehicle, the range describes how many miles the car can go when it’s charged to 100% and driven under a particular set of circumstances. Like with a gas powered car, the achievable range may vary with driving conditions. Rated, or estimated range is determined by EPA testing and is assigned to all vehicles of a particular make, model, year, and trim. However, there can be both short and long term changes to the actual, or achieved range. Temporary changes can be caused by external factors such as driving style, terrain, or temperature, while long term range effects are generally caused by battery degradation and age.
Short term: How consistent is the range from one day to the next?
All electric vehicles have something called a battery management system, or BMS. This monitors the battery’s charge, temperature, and is a computer that can calculate how much farther you can drive before recharging. Most battery management systems do on-the-fly calculations to get efficiency and range estimates - for example they use the last hour of driving, or the last trip since charge - to estimate metrics for future trips.
Some electric cars vary in terms of available range on a given day more than others. While things like driving behavior and outside temperature affect all electric cars, we have found that the rated range seen on-board Tesla Model 3 hardly vary at all. It is nearly consistent regardless of external factors.
Tesla uses its software and battery management system to achieve a near constant range estimate on the dashboard. Most Model 3 drivers won’t know how much real-world battery is available at any given time. Tesla suggests using the onboard energy app to get a more personalized view of your actual range.
The range estimates displayed on the dashboard of a Tesla Model 3 are very consistent regardless of temperatures. This chart shows the rated range at full charge (y axis) by daytime temperature (x axis) in degrees Fahrenheit. This is all-new, original data that Recurrent has collected from its research drivers and it demonstrates how Tesla’s range estimates are not dependent on outside temperature, regardless of the impact temperature has on real-world, achievable range.
This chart shows that range estimates across observed temperatures are mostly flat, but this does not speak to the real world range that drivers may achieve on the road. The on-board range estimates can be confusing for Tesla drivers, since cold temperatures do actually affect short term range estimates in all EVs -- see the Chevy Bolt as an example. Model 3 drivers should know that in very cold or very hot weather, actual range might be slightly below what your car tells you.
Long-term: How does range decrease over time as the battery degrades?
We all have our strengths and Recurrent’s strength is understanding EV batteries! For the last year we have been helping EV owners monitor their car batteries, and this chart shows the beginning of our battery degradation monitoring for the Model 3 electric vehicles in our community. The charts below show data live from Recurrent’s battery tracking research, and as such, represent real vehicles. Since we only began tracking battery data in 2020, the picture will get even clearer as data is added over time.
You can see in this plot that there is an initial drop off in range when the car is new. This is expected in all lithium ion batteries and means that the battery chemistry is settling into its long-term state. After this initial drop, range estimates (and battery health) tend to fall into a steady but slow decline. Since the life of an EV battery is far longer than year, it will take significant time to see the full degradation curve.
Note that since this analysis uses odometer rather than age, we have combined the same battery sizes across all years. This gives us better data prediction models.
The chart above is easy to understand, but belies the true complexity of battery degradation. While the lines above are moving averages of our research fleet, the plot below shows the full spectrum of data points we see with our Model 3’s. There is a lot of variability between individual vehicles, which is why we recommend registering your car for monthly battery reports or requesting a certified battery report from Recurrent.
What kind of lifestyle is best suited for the Tesla Model 3?
Each Model 3 has an estimated range that varies by year and vehicle version (or trim). Range is often a key factor when selecting an EV that is a good fit for your lifestyle. Vehicles with a shorter range are often better suited for short trips close to your home or wherever you charge. Vehicles with longer range are often more expensive but are a worthwhile investment for people with long commutes or who like to go on long road trips, or those who may not have easy access to home or office charging.
Used Teslas average around 10,000 miles per year owned, which is shy of the 13,500 miles that the average American driver goes.
For the Data Enthusiasts
Each day, thousands of Recurrent battery report participants share data that is used to produce analytical insights on our website. Participants also receive monthly battery reports to compare their car with all the others in the community and receive personalized long-term battery health insights. If you drive a Model 3, you can sign up to compare your car, too.
Long story short, we love data. And we love sharing data. Here’s some interesting Model 3 data from our community that we are sharing for EV drivers and enthusiasts everywhere.
In terms of how many we have per each year:
When it comes to Teslas, a lot of the important performance and battery information is encoded in the trim level, and even then, the same trim may have different battery capacity. This is a breakdown by trim level and battery capacity of the Model 3’s in our fleet. The Long Range AWD 75 is the most popular trim level, with the Long Range and Standard Range Plus next in the list.
Recurrent’s research fleet of Model 3’s are found across the country. The map below shows the locations of vehicles, highlighting their prevalence on the coasts, in Florida, and Texas.
While warm and temperate climates are disproportionately represented in our raw data, we use data sampling techniques that ensure an accurate representation of local temperatures and conditions for all drivers. That being said, we would love to sign up more cold-weather drivers or hear how your range is affected by cold weather.
One of the big concerns people have about switching to EVs is that an electric car won’t have the range for daily life. However, the average daily mileage of any sort of car is only around 30 miles. The same is true for the Tesla Model 3. There is a slight uptick in daily mileage during the summer seasons, but almost all our community drivers average under 50 miles a day. This plot below shows the daily driving distance for the entire Model 3 population with each blue dot representing an individual vehicle.
The state by state daily miles are also clustered around 30 miles a day, although there are slight variations.