Reviews

Tesla Model 3: Three Year Review – Driving, Charging, and Battery Status (Part 2)

Part 2 of my three-year review covers: The places we’ve been; Where we charge; and Battery pack status. Links to Parts 1-4 are at the bottom.

1) Where We’ve Gone

80% of my mileage has been commuting back and forth to work and running errands. During normal times that was 50 miles a day on weekdays and a bit less on weekends. The Model 3, like all other EVs, handles the daily driving with ease. The remaining 20% of my mileage came on longer trips for work and fun.

Something to keep in mind: while 20% of my mileage came on longer trips, those trips represented a small percentage of my time. If you look at the number of days we spent on those trips, it was less than 4% (42 days over 3 years). So 96% of the time I was just driving back and forth to work. Any shorter range EV would handle that job perfectly – the range of our Model 3 and Tesla’s Supercharger network came in to play for us on the longer trips.

My odometer at 3 years.

The fun trips included: There and back day trips; Regional trips around California; and Road trips. Spoiler: The Model 3 is a great car for road tripping.

Day trips. The day trips were 150-300 mile round trip drives. Examples for us included visits to the Bay Area, Pacific beaches, hiking trails, state parks, etc. On the shorter 150 mile day trips I would charge to 85% SOC the night before and wouldn’t need to charge that day. On the longer 300 mile day trips I would usually stop at a Supercharger somewhere along the way, usually for lunch.

Clear Lake in Northern California.

Regional trips: These were 500-1200 mile trips where we’d stay the night somewhere. Examples included a work trip to San Diego, camping trips, and visits to state and national parks.

Camping in Mt. Lassen Volcanic Park.

We used Tesla’s Supercharger network on these trips. I use A Better Route Planner ahead of time to select the best charging stops for our trips, and plan charging stops for lunch or dinner breaks

We included a stop at Grants Grove to see Giant Sequoias on a trip to San Diego.

Road Trips: We’ve gone on two road trips. One was a family trip to the Grand Canyon. That was 800 miles and we did the drive in one day. Total driving and charging time for 800 miles was 16 hours on the way there, 15 hours on the way back.

Desert View Drive in the Grand Canyon.

The other road trip was a week-long solo drive out to Albuquerque and back through 6 states at just over 2700 miles. I’ve read about folks who’ve racked up serious mileage on Odyssean voyages all over the U.S. We haven’t made a cross-country trip yet, but our 2 trips have given us a taste for road-tripping in the Model 3.

Sunrise in Monument Valley.

As mentioned above, 80% of my mileage has come from driving between and around those 2 yellow icons on the map below. Red icons are Superchargers I’ve used on road trips. Other icons point out some places of interest.

2) Charging

Home: For daily driving I charge my car in the garage. I get home, plug in, and the car charges for about 2 hours during the middle of the night when rates are cheaper. Daily charging is covered in more detail here.

Charging our car at night in the garage.

On the road: We use Superchargers for road trips. Very simple: you park and plug in. The cost is automatically charged to the credit card on your account. Pricing varies by state and region. I’ve only used Superchargers about 50 times over the past 3 years.

The pics below show 2 examples of driving between superchargers on major highways. In the top example I charged to 100% then drove 223 miles under pretty ideal conditions (212 Wh/mile). In the bottom I charged to about 90% then drove 163 miles with my family on board under more average conditions (261 Wh/mile). Weather, temp, weight, etc., all affect efficiency. This is true for all cars, gas and electric.

The next chart below shows another way of looking at how road trips work in an EV. On our trip to the Grand Canyon we drove the 800 miles in one day and stopped at five Superchargers along the way. The Driving column has green battery icons that show the rated-range* of the battery pack at the start and finish of each leg – the rated-range consumed for that leg is shown in red parentheses. The Charging column shows range of the battery pack before and after each Supercharging session. The number of minutes spent charging is shown in the red parentheses. Actual distance driven and drive time for each leg are also shown.

Charging stops during a one day 800 mile drive.

(*Rated-range: the EPA estimate for how far you can drive given the amount of energy stored in your battery pack.)

On my solo 2700 mile trip I stopped every 150 miles for an average of 23 minutes. On our family trip to the Grand Canyon Supercharging stops averaged 19 minutes for the whole round trip. Fastest charging rate I’ve noticed was 222 kW. The longest distance I’ve driven between Superchargers was 223 miles.

Charging at the Kettleman City Supercharger. Superchargers are located near stores, cafes, restaurants and hotels that cater to folks passing through. Left: getting coffee at the Kettleman City Supercharger. Right: hotel lobbies where I’ve had a coffee while supercharging on a road trip.

At Supercharging stops I grab a bite to eat, get a drink, stretch my legs – it keeps me fresh on the road. If you’re like me you might find you rarely go over 200 miles between stops on the road so the Supercharging mode of road-tripping work well for me.

Tesla Superchargers in North America as of May 2021.

3) Battery Pack Status

My RWD long range Model 3 had 310 miles of range when I bought it, and 325 miles after a software update. I’ve done four 100% charges. The first two pre-update charges gave me 309 and 310 miles, and a post-update charge gave me 325 miles when the car had 24,000 miles. I did another full charge at 43,000 miles and got 300 miles. I’ve done several 90% charges since then and got between 267-279 miles. So that 300 may be plus or minus 3 to 5 miles.

In terms of kWh: Total capacity of the battery pack was 80.5 kWh when new (EPA calc), with ~74.5 kWh usable. The software update increased the usable portion to ~78.2 kWh. I estimate that I’ve got about 72 kWh usable right now.

72 kWh is down 3½ percent compared to the initial 74.5 kWh usable; and 8% down compared to 78.2 kWh. I almost never charge over 90%; 85% of my charging has been on Level 2; and I park in cool places in hot weather. I asked Tesla about my battery pack status and they said it’s slightly above average for 2018’s with similar mileage. From following reports of Tesla battery pack capacity over time it’s clear that degradation is not linear. I’ll be following my pack to see how my car fits on the curve moving forward.

One leg of a recent road trip: I started with 272 miles (90% SOC), drove 176 miles and arrived with 78 miles in the pack.

That said, 300 miles is plenty for me. On the last leg of our trip to the Grand Canyon I charged to 90% at the Kingman Supercharger, then drove 176 miles while ascending 3500′ in chilly 35-40F weather and we had plenty remaining in the pack (78 miles) when we arrived. We’re fine, the car does its job.

Summary

Summary: I love the car. It’s very efficient, takes care of our daily needs, and allows us to drive electric while visiting places we’ve always wanted to see.

Next up in my three-year review: Energy use and Emissions.

This guest post from Steve Noctor originally appeared on his blog It’s Electric

Cuttin

Member
Oct 25, 2018
292
210
Nj
Nice detailed article. Thanks.

Very clear charts. I wish all superchargers had a lounge like your pic. I just don't get them. It's an easy way to make money with a captive audience.

My experience in short.
I have a 3.5 year old MX, 75D. 80k miles on now. 247 or 254 miles when I got it new, don't remember. Now it's 215 miles.

It's a bit low range for longer trips. But like you said, it's a tiny percent of time. My daily needs are 60-90miles and I'm fine. However, My weekend home is 200 miles away. I do about 8 trips there a year. And with high speed highway driving and cold Temps, northeast, the 215 miles range gets you about 120miles. I also do some runs to NYC, about 75miles away quiet often, and some long road trips.

So my degradation is about 13-15 percent. Sucks but life. Honestly if it was 8 or 5 percent, it wouldnt change things much. But I have totally abused my battery bc it's a lease and I thought I'm giving it back. Now thinking of buying so got a bit screwed. I charge to 100percent daily. And supercharge often on trips. And commonly pull into chargers or home with 0-10miles remaining. Actually got towed twice within eye of superchargers. It sucks, I do NOT reply recommend. I didn't realize shade makes a difference, but I always park in sun at office and never garage my car in winter or summer.

I do disagree with you on 300miles being enough for trips. Maybe for you in a warm climate and slow driving. I think the ideal number is probably 400-500miles range. This will allow for degradation and fast cold weather driving. Giving you an effective driving range of 175-250.

Also important for rate of charge is key aspect of size of range in old battery. I only charge fast from 20miles to 80miles, then it's slower and ridiculously slower after 125miles. So roughly 10percent to 35percent fast. Then 35-50percent okay, then it's just very slow. So having a larger capacity old battery would help very much.
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,712
3,375
Maine
Nice travel report, and great pics. Do you wipe down your car before taking pics?

About ABRP, on your GC trip did you set your arrival SOC to 25%? or thereabouts? Seems like you were always charging with almost 100 miles in the bank. I set my arrival SOC down at 15%. The benefit is you charge faster at low SOCs.

The other ABRP question is did you set your speed at 100%, cause it looks like your driving speed was quite low. I know you were on a family trip, so it's understandable!
 

snoltor

Member
May 16, 2013
15
19
Davis, CA
Nice detailed article. Thanks.

Very clear charts. I wish all superchargers had a lounge like your pic. I just don't get them. It's an easy way to make money with a captive audience.

My experience in short.
I have a 3.5 year old MX, 75D. 80k miles on now. 247 or 254 miles when I got it new, don't remember. Now it's 215 miles.

It's a bit low range for longer trips. But like you said, it's a tiny percent of time. My daily needs are 60-90miles and I'm fine. However, My weekend home is 200 miles away. I do about 8 trips there a year. And with high speed highway driving and cold Temps, northeast, the 215 miles range gets you about 120miles. I also do some runs to NYC, about 75miles away quiet often, and some long road trips.

So my degradation is about 13-15 percent. Sucks but life. Honestly if it was 8 or 5 percent, it wouldnt change things much. But I have totally abused my battery bc it's a lease and I thought I'm giving it back. Now thinking of buying so got a bit screwed. I charge to 100percent daily. And supercharge often on trips. And commonly pull into chargers or home with 0-10miles remaining. Actually got towed twice within eye of superchargers. It sucks, I do NOT reply recommend. I didn't realize shade makes a difference, but I always park in sun at office and never garage my car in winter or summer.

I do disagree with you on 300miles being enough for trips. Maybe for you in a warm climate and slow driving. I think the ideal number is probably 400-500miles range. This will allow for degradation and fast cold weather driving. Giving you an effective driving range of 175-250.

Also important for rate of charge is key aspect of size of range in old battery. I only charge fast from 20miles to 80miles, then it's slower and ridiculously slower after 125miles. So roughly 10percent to 35percent fast. Then 35-50percent okay, then it's just very slow. So having a larger capacity old battery would help very much.
Thanks for the feedback. About the 300 miles range, yes I am a slow driver in moderate climate so that helps alot, but also, the 3 is small, and very efficient so it's easier to get closer to and go over rated range when I'm on my own. Tesla undoubtedly factors in vehicle weight, drag, etc but I don't get close to rated range in my wife's Y. And charging speed of older vehicles is something I'll be watching with my car over the years. A friend of mine with a 7 year old Model S (85 kWh) doesn't get much over 35 kW when he supercharges.
 
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Reactions: Cuttin

RudeDude

MY-LR-5, Blue ext/white int. Deliv 8/17
Jun 16, 2021
63
126
Central VA
Great article(s). I read part 1 and 2 back-to-back. Thanks for writing it and including this level of detail!
 
May 28, 2021
40
19
Florida
how did you manage such amazing Wh/mi? I drive M3 SR+. I have only been driving for few months but no matter how much I try my WH/mi is always between 225 and 240. I don't accelerate hard, keep music on all the time either through premium service or bluetooth, don't keep phone to charge most times in the car as its generally charged well, generally do not have to use brakes except unexpected situation otherwise 98% of the time its regen and still no matter what I do its always between 225 and 240 wh/mi. Recently I changed to Chill mode to see how much difference it makes and it does make some but not that much.

Any tips?
 
May 28, 2021
40
19
Florida
how did you manage such amazing Wh/mi? I drive M3 SR+. I have only been driving for few months but no matter how much I try my WH/mi is always between 225 and 240. I don't accelerate hard, keep music on all the time either through premium service or bluetooth, don't keep phone to charge most times in the car as its generally charged well, generally do not have to use brakes except unexpected situation otherwise 98% of the time its regen and still no matter what I do its always between 225 and 240 wh/mi. Recently I changed to Chill mode to see how much difference it makes and it does make some but not that much.

Any tips?
And I figured out lol - keep Chill mode on when possible, and music off when possible - the Wh/mi goes down from 230-240 range to 180-190 range! :)
 
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Reactions: KenC

snoltor

Member
May 16, 2013
15
19
Davis, CA
Nice travel report, and great pics. Do you wipe down your car before taking pics?

About ABRP, on your GC trip did you set your arrival SOC to 25%? or thereabouts? Seems like you were always charging with almost 100 miles in the bank. I set my arrival SOC down at 15%. The benefit is you charge faster at low SOCs.

The other ABRP question is did you set your speed at 100%, cause it looks like your driving speed was quite low. I know you were on a family trip, so it's understandable!
For planning with ABRP I set charger arrival at 30% so I always have that 100 in the pack that you mention. Makes for slower charging but allows for unplanned detours. I covered that in another post (https://ventricular.org/ItsElectric/2021/03/29/supercharging-2-800-miles-in-a-day). And yes I am a slow driver, story for another time. Oh, and I run the car through the car wash before leaving on trips but don't wipe down for photos while on the road.
Thanks for the write up! It seems like where you live, the Supercharger network is extensive enough. Do you think it could be improved? If so, where?
Check out Plugshare.com or Tesla's website (Find Us | Tesla) to see existing and coming soon chargers in your area or area of interest. IMO Tesla will need to significantly increase the number of charging stalls if/when other mfg's EVs begin using Superchargers.
 
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Reactions: KenC

lehmanbt

Member
Jun 14, 2021
18
34
Oceanside, CA
Here's my report......enough said! LOL.


IMG_7464.jpeg
 

gtimbers

Member
Jan 9, 2013
137
7
Van Nuys, Ca.
Nice detailed article. Thanks.

Very clear charts. I wish all superchargers had a lounge like your pic. I just don't get them. It's an easy way to make money with a captive audience.

My experience in short.
I have a 3.5 year old MX, 75D. 80k miles on now. 247 or 254 miles when I got it new, don't remember. Now it's 215 miles.

It's a bit low range for longer trips. But like you said, it's a tiny percent of time. My daily needs are 60-90miles and I'm fine. However, My weekend home is 200 miles away. I do about 8 trips there a year. And with high speed highway driving and cold Temps, northeast, the 215 miles range gets you about 120miles. I also do some runs to NYC, about 75miles away quiet often, and some long road trips.

So my degradation is about 13-15 percent. Sucks but life. Honestly if it was 8 or 5 percent, it wouldnt change things much. But I have totally abused my battery bc it's a lease and I thought I'm giving it back. Now thinking of buying so got a bit screwed. I charge to 100percent daily. And supercharge often on trips. And commonly pull into chargers or home with 0-10miles remaining. Actually got towed twice within eye of superchargers. It sucks, I do NOT reply recommend. I didn't realize shade makes a difference, but I always park in sun at office and never garage my car in winter or summer.

I do disagree with you on 300miles being enough for trips. Maybe for you in a warm climate and slow driving. I think the ideal number is probably 400-500miles range. This will allow for degradation and fast cold weather driving. Giving you an effective driving range of 175-250.

Also important for rate of charge is key aspect of size of range in old battery. I only charge fast from 20miles to 80miles, then it's slower and ridiculously slower after 125miles. So roughly 10percent to 35percent fast. Then 35-50percent okay, then it's just very slow. So having a larger capacity old battery would help very much.
It doesn’t help much even if you are nice to the battery. I lost 6% in 20 months in a 2019 X and I’m down 4% @ 8k, 8 months. My 2021 3 SR+ is down 3% in 3k miles and about 7 months. I also has a 2012 S and a 2015 S_D. 65,000 miles on the two combined in 6 years and I only lost 6% total! Their newer batteries are crap. They have also increased their lies about range. Worst assembly in the Industry (even worse than Land Rover), tied for poorest adherence to rated range and significantly noisier that their electric competion (actually my 3 is very quiet, but the X is a Hay wagon). Sorry for the rant, but I find Tesla’s current conformance to their claims to be the worst in their history.
 
  • Disagree
Reactions: WhiteWi

toolman335

Member
Oct 3, 2019
856
607
Rochester
Nice detailed article. Thanks.

Very clear charts. I wish all superchargers had a lounge like your pic. I just don't get them. It's an easy way to make money with a captive audience.

My experience in short.
I have a 3.5 year old MX, 75D. 80k miles on now. 247 or 254 miles when I got it new, don't remember. Now it's 215 miles.

It's a bit low range for longer trips. But like you said, it's a tiny percent of time. My daily needs are 60-90miles and I'm fine. However, My weekend home is 200 miles away. I do about 8 trips there a year. And with high speed highway driving and cold Temps, northeast, the 215 miles range gets you about 120miles. I also do some runs to NYC, about 75miles away quiet often, and some long road trips.

So my degradation is about 13-15 percent. Sucks but life. Honestly if it was 8 or 5 percent, it wouldnt change things much. But I have totally abused my battery bc it's a lease and I thought I'm giving it back. Now thinking of buying so got a bit screwed. I charge to 100percent daily. And supercharge often on trips. And commonly pull into chargers or home with 0-10miles remaining. Actually got towed twice within eye of superchargers. It sucks, I do NOT reply recommend. I didn't realize shade makes a difference, but I always park in sun at office and never garage my car in winter or summer.

I do disagree with you on 300miles being enough for trips. Maybe for you in a warm climate and slow driving. I think the ideal number is probably 400-500miles range. This will allow for degradation and fast cold weather driving. Giving you an effective driving range of 175-250.

Also important for rate of charge is key aspect of size of range in old battery. I only charge fast from 20miles to 80miles, then it's slower and ridiculously slower after 125miles. So roughly 10percent to 35percent fast. Then 35-50percent okay, then it's just very slow. So having a larger capacity old battery would help very much.
Well you've managed to convince me to never buy a leased Tesla. You literally abuse the car. You charge the car to 100% daily and have let it run out of power. Fantastic.
 

Cuttin

Member
Oct 25, 2018
292
210
Nj
Well you've managed to convince me to never buy a leased Tesla. You literally abuse the car. You charge the car to 100% daily and have let it run out of power. Fantastic.

I agree!
I really did beat the hell out of battery AND car.
floor it very often and push it hard on mountain roads.

My conclusion, however, after 80k of this type of driving is the car holds up pretty darn well. On my 3rd set of tires but overall it takes abuse well.

There should be someway of knowing battery health, but honestly I don't know if it make MUCH difference. There will always be some loss and it seems 7-10 percent over long term. So if it's 13 percent? Eh.

That's why I say you need the 400-500 range battery at least. That will account for the losses in range over time and fast/cold highway driving to give you a realistic driving range of 200-250miles. Now if you drive slow and in warm climates then maybe 350-400 is okay.
 

snoltor

Member
May 16, 2013
15
19
Davis, CA
On a related note, I drove 129 miles up to Lake Tahoe, a 7000' climb from the Sac area, with our family of 4 through a raging snow storm, with chains on rear wheels last half of the trip, heat defrost on front wind shield full bore so I could see and to melt the snow and ice that kept building up on the wipers - in those conditions I used 191 miles of range. So about 200 miles actual range for me in those conditions... of course I gained energy back on the way down but getting up there was the point.
 

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Soul Surfer

Member
Sep 4, 2021
74
29
Toronto
Terrific review and summary. Thank you for that.

I am curious as to why one would not always do a 100% charge. I am awaiting to receive my dual motor long range in November and my experience is centered around my current 2018 Volt.
 

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