Tesla Model 3 efficiency is impressive

Tesla Model 3 production version

Until now, Tesla wasn’t known for making high efficient electric cars, but this will change with the Model 3.

From the start Tesla’s goal was to compete with top performance gas cars and efficiency wasn’t that important. However, if we can have top performance and efficiency with the same car, why not?

Thanks to Akilae from the Model 3 Owners Club, we can now compare the efficiency between the three Tesla models currently on sale and I’ve to say that I’m pretty impressed.


Below we have the internal efficiency numbers that Tesla uses to rate their electric cars:


Tesla Model 3: 23,7 kWh/100 miles – 14,73 kWh/100 km

Tesla Model S: 34,4 kWh/100 miles – 21,38 kWh/100 km

Tesla Model X: 36,9 kWh/100 miles – 22,93 kWh/100 km


Tesla and EPA figures aren’t exactly the same, so for the sake of comparison here we have some EPA combined efficiency numbers:

Tesla Model S 75D: 33 kWh/100 miles – 20,5 kWh/100 km

Hyundai IONIQ Electric: 25 kWh/100 miles – 15,4 kWh/100 km


Looking at these figures it’s quite possible that the Tesla Model 3 will steal away the efficiency champion title from the Hyundai IONIQ Electric when the EPA efficiency ratings are finally public.

The days when we had to choose between efficiency and performance are over. The Tesla Model 3 will offer both in a stunning body.


Let’s see how the Tesla Model 3 compares with the Hyundai IONIQ Electric on weight and aerodynamics.


Hyundai IONIQ Electric

Kerb weight (kg): 1.420 – 1.475 (depending of optional equipment)

Coefficient of drag (Cd): 0,24

EPA combined efficiency: 25 kWh/100 miles – 15,4 kWh/100 km


Tesla Model 3

Kerb weight (kg): 1.610 (standard version) – 1.730 (long range version)

Coefficient of drag (Cd): 0,23

Tesla internal efficiency rates: 23,7 kWh/100 miles – 14,73 kWh/100 km


Tesla Model 3 will not only appeal to drivers accustomed to top performance of German luxury cars, but surprisingly it’s also appealing to drivers that want to drive as efficiently as possible, such as old Prius’ loyal fans.

I’m sorry Elon, I know you want to sell the TMX and TMS, but I think that the TM3 is the best car Tesla has ever made, by far.

The only negative part I see now, is that until Tesla starts producing 500.000 cars per year and flood the used car market this car will still be expensive for the mainstream. However, I pretty confident that by 2020, when legacy automakers start to wake up to the electric car revolution, an used Tesla Model 3 will be much more affordable.

To sum up, I’m pretty impressed with Tesla. I’ve always said that huge and inefficient cars, even if electric aren’t sustainable. The Model 3 is a first step in the right direction, the next is efficient, sustainable, comfortable and fast public transportation with electric buses, trains and especially maglev for higher distances. Tesla electric buses, trains and planes… that would be awesome.


What do you think? Are you impressed with the efficiency of the Tesla Model 3 or you don’t even care? If you currently own a Tesla are you considering to trade it for a Model 3?



More info:


Tesla accidentally reveals Model 3 efficiency hinting at impressive range

Tesla Model 3 production specs revealed: up to 310 miles range, 140 mph top speed, and more

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

17 Responses

  1. sapcmc says:

    Until we have a car able to run for 200 miles, 320 km, in one charge and costing less than $14,000 USD there is no revolution.

    The Tesla model 3 is a nice car but still an elite car. Only people with an yearly income of over 150,000 USD can afford such car.

    If this is a revolution it is the caviar one.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Yes that’s true, but one thing is undeniable, German automakers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes can no longer ignore Tesla. Already next year sales will start to suffer.

      If every car bought for more than 50.000 € was electric, it would be great.

    • Kimmo57 says:

      I don’t make half of that in a year and I can afford the Model 3.

  2. Bobby says:

    What 5 passenger sedans are you finding for $14,000 US?

  3. EHE says:

    I don’t know if EPA numbers will match real life. But I am convinced that Ioniq will have lower real life consumtion than model 3.

    1. Model 3 is 200kg heavier.
    2. Model 3 is equipped with 18″ or bigger wheels.

    This means far higher rolling resistance. The small difference in air drag is not sufficient to compensate for this unless you drive most of the time at very high speed.

    • Terawatt says:

      It’s funny how many people believe rolling resistance is proportional to wheel diameter, or increasing with wheel size. Pedro helps increase the confusion since he often incorrectly “explains” this to readers!

      It is in fact inversely related to wheel diameter. But for wheels with pneumatic tires the difference in practice, for practical tires, is small.


      Surprisingly, the rolling resistance coefficient also goes down with higher wheel load, provided tire pressure is also increased.

      So it’s not so clear the Ioniq would be the king of efficiency. But the most important point for me is still simply this – regardless if one car is a few percent more efficient than the other: rolling resistance is nearly irrelevant, regardless of vehicle! You simply don’t need the full range in city driving. I never want to drive for eight hours at 40 kph. But I may want to go two hours at 120 kph in cold weather and headwind, and still have enough to fund my way in the city when I get there. At these speeds drag is at least 80% of the energy use, so it’s far more important than rolling resistance and thus mass. One exception is if the road goes up and down a lot and is too steep to avoid braking downhill (even regenerative braking). In such conditions lifting the car can consume a significant part of total energy, and this of course is proportional to mass. And while regen certainly helps you don’t get back much more than half what you spent lifting the car. (But if you free-rolled down in neutral you’d get back nearly all! This economy-rally practical however isn’t very practical most of the time.)

      • Pedro Lima says:

        In my opinion the two biggest efficiency problems with higher diameter wheels are:

        1) higher contact patch, since they are often used with wider tyres, look to the Renault Zoe example:

        15” (diameter 381 mm, radius 191 mm) with Michelin EV tyres (185/65 R15 88Q)
        16” (diameter 406 mm, radius 203 mm) with Michelin EV tyres (195/55 R16 91Q)
        17” (diameter 432 mm, radius 216 mm) with standard/non-EV tyres (205/45 R17 88H)

        The BMW i3 with its high diameter wheels combined with narrow tyres is a exception.

        2) higher diameter wheels increase turbulence and air drag, making the cars less aerodynamic

        I agree with you when you say that when compared to aerodynamics, rolling resistance is almost irrelevant. That’s why I think it’s so important to replace side mirrors with cameras.

  4. filip bjurling says:

    In Sweden we have no fossil fuels for electric power generation. So here, and in Norway, it really isn’t that important. What’s important though is range, price and charging speed, all of which improve with greater efficiency.

    • Terawatt says:

      So efficiency isn’t important because it increases all of the things that are.

      Only a Swede could come up with such logic! 😉

  5. Ralf K. says:

    Tesla aimed at a drag value cd of 0.21 (remember Elons tweet) before, instead of the 0.23 that they achieved. So, I’m curios for the version without side view mirrors (reduces drag and cross sectional area at the same time) – even more so as cameras are there anyway in Teslas sensing hardware concept. And maybe some remember the Tesla renderings of Model3 with no side view mirrors, it looks even more sleek.

    In addition, it would be interesting if they switched to a permanent magnet motor now instead of the induction motor(s) in Model S/X. In contrast to your guess however, I do not believe that the AWD version (dual motor) of TM3 will be more efficient.

    There were other cars before that combined performance and fuel economy however. Think of a Golf GTD. Either 7.4 sec to go to 100 km/h or 4.4 liters of Diesel/100 km. Sure, both values are to be compared within the category of ICE cars, however.

    • Terawatt says:

      Tesla aimed for 0.19 originally. Actually, I believe they only stated it as “below 0.20”.

      But there are always a lot of compromises to be made – it’s no good getting 0.19 of the driver can’t get into the vehicle, or can’t see out, or it makes the car hard to produce, or it makes it ugly so nobody except Pedro wants it, and so on. I think Tesla has done a pretty good job choosing good compromises in Model 3. Or so it seems. Remains to be seen if it’s as radically easier to produce than Model S. (Every car, and most rockets, are easier to produce than a Model X!)

  6. Terawatt says:

    Impressed, but a little worried as it seems Tesla switched to permanent magnet motors to achieve this. Electricity can be made totally sustainably, and I’m not so sure trading off a bit of efficiency is too high a price to pay to avoid using rare earth materials. At least it seems odd on the face of things to first say for years that induction motors are the better choice because they don’t need any rare earth materials and are more sustainable – and then switch to permanent magnets for the volume model!

    But I do of course love the resulting range. The 310-mile version was more than I’d imagined, and 220 was perhaps a little less than I hoped.

    Overall the car is impressive and I’ve stopped worrying about the lack of dashboard instruments. But it’s a long wait until late 2018.

    Only three and a half week now before Nissan underwhelms everyone with their new LEAF. It seems the redesign is what people have been asking for, but I can’t for the life of me understand why Nissan positions itself at the bottom in terms of capacity. Maybe they plan to continue selling the cars way way below MSRP to get good market share numbers on paper?!? I don’t know how analysts do these calculations, but currently new LEAFs in the US are often way below $20k, so it’s pretty obvious that if you assume people are paying MSRP you’ll overestimate Nissan’s market share by value rather a lot…

    When’s the Ioniq’s 200-mile pack being announced..?

    • Pedro Lima says:

      The switch to permanent magnet motors does make sense for the volume model because it wasn’t made to increase efficiency, this switch was needed to increase the drive unit’s reliability.

      Drive units have been the achilles’ heel of the TMS and TMX, imagine what would happen to Tesla if the company had to replace under warranty thousands of drive units in the less profitable model…

      If the drive unit’s reliability problems prove to be over, I’m still worried about repair costs of the aluminium body. Tesla really needs to get this sorted. That being said, I think that the TM3 is the most important car ever made and will meet enormous success.

      Regarding the Hyundai IONIQ Electric’s battery capacity increase, I don’t think it will be officially announced before next year.

      • Gregben says:

        Pedro, you have a nice web site here, but you are clearly not an engineer. Permanent magnet motors are LESS reliable than AC induction motors. The reason is that the permanent magnets can become demagnetized if subject to excessive heat. AC induction motors are basically just coils of wire, a support structure, and shaft bearings. Yes, they can also be damaged by excessive heat, but are simpler and more tolerant of high heat than permanent magnet motors. So Tesla absolutely did choose a permanent magnet motor for the model 3 for efficiency!

  7. Richard says:

    You need to look at the energy consumption of Maglev trains, there is a reason why only a managed economy i.e. China, are using Maglev. Japan do have a Maglev track test, but have had to build a power station to run it !

  8. Eric Walker says:

    I just have to add that, unfortunately , your prediction was wrong. Its impossible to find an affordable used m3 in 2020. Maybe 5 years from now

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