Range is one of the most important things for EV shoppers and drivers. While it can feel like a moving target, it’s not actually different from how miles per tank vary in a gas car. But, we know that for EV shoppers, it can feel nearly impossible to understand and compare EV ranges between makes and models. Here is what we’ve seen in terms of Tesla Model 3 ranges in a variety of years and trims.
What is the Tesla Model 3 EPA range?
The most accessible piece of information about EV ranges is the EPA Rated Range. This is a number that the EPA publishes for each electric vehicle on the market, detailing how far that car can drive on a full charge. The EPA range is tested under a set of very controlled conditions. Manufacturers use a tool called a dynamometer, which is essentially a car treadmill, for their range tests.
After performing the dynamometer tests, each car manufacturer can decide on an “adjustment factor,” also called a “derating factor” that is meant to take into account real world factors that are not part of indoor testing. These factors include things like air resistance, elevation changes, and road roughness.
Although the EPA range estimates are the best information consumers have about EV range, they are not perfect. Like miles per tank, they are best guesses under set conditions. What this means is that the EPA range is not accurate on day one, and it is most certainly not accurate after several years of driving an EV. And, as the car and its battery are used and get older, the battery capacity and performance will degrade, reducing the total range available.
What is the observed used Model 3 range?
From what we've seen firsthand and heard from anecdotes, most Model 3's hold on to their original range very well and you can expect to get 85-95% of the car's original range over its lifetime. Used Model 3 at 100% charge have an average range varying from 187-334 miles, depending on the year of the vehicle and the trim. The lowest observed Model 3 range is 155 miles for a 2018 Long Range AWD model, and the highest is 461 miles, also from a 2018 Long Range (but not an AWD). It just goes to show that the age of the vehicle is only one of the factors that determines the range. This data comes from over 3,000 Tesla Model 3's on US roads today and over 3 million data points.
Generally, older Model 3s, from late 2017 and 2018, are seeing between 232 and 298 miles of range today. The range prediction does depend on the battery size, which for those years, are 50 kWh - 75 kWh packs. Of course, even these “older” Model 3s are not really that old - they have just hit the five year mark.
Newer Model 3s should not show much battery degradation, but many do not reach the full range reported to the EPA due to driving style or manufacturing variance. For instance, a 2020 Standard Range Model 3 may see an actual range between 170 and 310 miles, while a 2020 Performance trim can get between 209 and 299 miles.
- 75.0 kWh: 277 - 322 miles
- 50.0 kWh: 217 - 247 miles
- 62.0 kWh: 205 - 305 miles
- 75.0 kWh: 154 - 461 miles
- 50.0 kWh: 133 - 254 miles
- 62.0 kWh: 196 - 296 miles
- 75.0 kWh: 215 - 395 miles
- 50.0 kWh: 170 - 310 miles
- 75.0 kWh: 187 - 342 miles
- 50.0 kWh: 212 - 270 miles
- 82.0 kWh: 272 - 359 miles
- 62.3 kWh: 249 - 273 miles
- 82.0 kWh: 280 - 376 miles
To learn more about Model 3s, see our full buying guide.
What Affects Range?
Although there is a desire to put a single number on a car’s range, the fact is that it will change given external and internal conditions. There are short term range effects that are generally caused by outside factors and do not result in any long term range reduction. There are also long term range effects that can be caused by a variety of things, but do cause permanent range reduction.
Short Term Effects
Many of these are the same as with an ICE car, since they merely follow the rules of physics.
- Weather - Extreme temperatures can reduce driving range. This is because a) high or low temperatures can cause inefficiencies in the battery, and b) the use of climate control pulls energy from the battery that would otherwise go to range. Generally, using a cabin heater in the winter will affect range more than using the AC in the summer. This can be a surprise to drivers who are used to ICE cars, which generate a lot of waste heat that can warm the car cabin “for free.”
- Auxiliary Systems - if you park your car with auxiliary systems running, such as “sentry mode” in a Tesla, you may return to find that your battery has been used while the car was not in motion. If you plan to use such systems and need your full range, try to park where you can leave the car plugged in, with a conservative maximum range set.
- Terrain - Hilly roads also affect range, with uphill drives using more energy and downhill using less. Highway driving is also much less efficient in an electric car, whereas slow city driving or stop-and-go traffic will use much less of your battery, leaving you with more range.
- Drive style - Much like with a combustion engine, fast acceleration and aggressive driving will use more energy and leave you with less range. Similarly, if you’re carrying a lot or have a full car, your car will need more energy to go.
Long Term Effects
Unlike the factors above, these will cause permanent effects to your range.
- Age of battery - Batteries degrade with age. Even if you never use your EV, it will still experience some degree of baseline degradation. This is inevitable, but you can take steps to minimize additional degradation.
- Fast charging - Fast charging is fast because it moves a lot of energy at once. This “firehose” effect means high voltage is hitting your battery, which can heat it up and cause physical stress.
- Heat exposure - Having your car battery exposed to high temperatures for a long time is never good. The heat adds energy to the chemical system inside your battery, accelerating unwanted processes and leading to degradation.
- Depth of discharge - Depth of discharge is how much of your battery capacity you use at once. For instance, if you go from 80% charge to 30% charge, that is a 50% depth of discharge. Laboratory tests show that limiting your depth of discharge can help preserve your battery range.