The Tesla Model 3 Might Not Be as Efficient as You Think

When automakers put out an estimate, more often than not, they’re pretty close. Sometimes they over-exaggerate what their vehicle is capable of, and sometimes they’re underestimated. For the Tesla Model 3, it appears that the American automaker has overestimated how far it can go on one charge. Or, that’s what InsideEVs‘ test showed, anyway.

The EPA estimate didn’t match the real-world test

A white Tesla Model 3 vehicle is seen at a Tesla flagship store
The Tesla Model 3 | Gao Yuwen/VCG via Getty Images

Tesla doesn’t always manage to impress critics, and its reliability ratings aren’t the best. The numbers don’t always match up either, as shown by InsideEVs’ latest real-world EPA test. 

According to InsideEVs, “The Tesla Model 3 dual motor, long-range is EPA-rated at 322 miles per charge and is one of the most efficient EVs available today. In our 70 mph highway range test, we were able to drive a total of 290 miles (467 km) with an average consumption rating of 4.25 mi/kWh (14.59 kWh/100 km). It finished up achieving 10% less range than its EPA-range rating.”

It seems strange that Tesla’s estimates and Inside EVs’ estimates are so far off from each other, but there was only one EV out of 15 that wasn’t off. It was the 2020 BMW i3s with Range Extender. Other vehicles either underestimated or overestimated how far their vehicle could go on each charge. 

Digging in further, while -10 percent might seem like a lot, there were EVs on the list with even worse ratings. The 2015 Chevy Spark EV was off by 23.2 percent. 

It’s even more important to note that the EPA tests are conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, so it’s not really Tesla that came out with these numbers. Tesla does its own tests, of course, which are then submitted to the EPA for verification, but the EPA backed up what Tesla turned in.

So how could the tests be off? Well, it’s one of those real world versus being sheltered problems. 

Why aren’t the numbers matching up?

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The tests that determine the EPA estimates are conducted in restricted conditions that don’t take into consideration road conditions, weather, temperature, or anything else a vehicle will be facing when it hits actual highways and city streets. This is why Tesla’s EPA estimate of 322 miles per charge is an ‘estimate.’

When InsideEVs does its test, it tries to do so on more realistic terrains, so that the numbers are closer to what actual owners will get. The vehicle being put through its paces is pushed at 70 mpg around a long loop. It’s tested at least twice by different drivers, so that the results are more accurate.

Even so, the InsideEVs test may not be 100 percent accurate as it’s subject to the same problems that the EPA test is. A road in Colorado is much different than one in Texas, so the results may vary greatly depending on where the test is conducted. 

Is the Tesla Model 3 really that great?

RELATED: Is a Tesla Model 3 Really Worth It?

Considering that you may not get the estimated 322 miles per charge, should you invest in the Tesla Model 3? It’s not exactly cheap, after all, and if you’re spending more money at charging stations than you originally thought, it makes it questionable as to whether you should buy it or settle for something cheaper.

It’s certainly got its fair share of problems, but there’s no denying that the Tesla Model 3 is one of the nicest EVs on the market. From an eye-catching exterior to top-of-the-line interior features like a monolithic touchscreen, it’s tough to compete with the Tesla Model 3. 

If you are interested in a 2021 Model 3, the EPA estimate is now 353 miles on the Long Range. This means that the charge is even better than ever, and if you have the chance to buy a Model 3, you should absolutely go for it.