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The Tesla Model 3 Drive Zero Car Guide

The Tesla Model 3 seems to be the electric car that others are being judged by – while deliveries are starting to flow in the US, they still won’t hit Australia until later in 2019 so potential Australian owners still have a way to go yet.

That being said, when it does hit Australian shores in mid-2019 the choice for buyers will be quite interesting. It will really put the pressure on other EV’s such as the new 2018 Nissan Leaf and especially the BMW i3. With its luxurious interior, unique exterior, next generation technology, great electric range, Supercharger network access and very comparable pricing it’ll be a hard EV to pass up – but it won’t come as cheaply as many would hope, either.

Drive Zero Car Guides are written for people trying to get a feel of the electric car landscape in Australia. We only wrote guides for battery (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicles that are confirmed to be on sale in the market in Australia now, or are coming soon.

Our goal is to summarise as much as you might want to know about the different considerations for each of these electric cars and who they may be useful for. That said, we’re not qualified car reviewers, so full reviews of these models, we’ve included the best links and video for reviews that we could find.

What’s the big deal about the Tesla Model 3?

When Tesla as a company started all those years ago its mission was to accelerate the transition towards sustainable transportation. To put as many EV’s into the hands of the public as possible, as soon as possible.

However it couldn’t just straight out build 1 million cars, it had to grow in size and capability like any company. It’s for this reason that they chose to build successively cheaper and more mass produced cars one by one.

To begin with, they built – by hand – the Tesla Roadster. With about 1,500 ever made they were very expensive. Next they moved onto the Model S and Model X which, while still expensive starting at $120,000+ AUD, they were much more accessible. They were also produced in far higher volumes too.

Finally, after around 10 years of growing, developing, learning and pushing the boundaries of battery and EV technology Tesla got to the Model 3. Their “every mans” car… sort of.

With Tesla aiming to produce upwards of 500,000 per year and a starting price estimated at around $55,000 AUD drive away they are looking to really achieve their initial goal in a meaningful way.

Beyond this history though the Tesla Model 3 has earned itself a huge amount of attention simply because it represents a major shift in what automobiles are. Not only is it an EV – something that is still quite rare in Australia – but it also has many other ground breaking new features such as key less entry via your phone, a completely new AC vent system, a virtually buttonless interior and the promise that it will one day autonomously drive itself.

So how much is a Tesla Model 3 in Australia and what models are there?

Currently you can’t buy the Tesla Model 3 in Australia. There is a worldwide backlog of over 450,000 pre-orders that Tesla needs to fill, plus they also need to develop the RHD version.

They were quoting a sale date of “Early 2019” for it to hit Australian shores, however this has been pushed back to “Mid 2019” due to the delayed ramp up in production. At best this mid 2019 days will also be for existing Tesla owners and those who reserved in the first weeks of it being available.

You can reserve one here if you’d like which requires a $1,500 AUD reservation payment.

At this point, they also haven’t announced exact Australian pricing for the Tesla Model 3 in Australia yet but we know pricing starts at $35,000 USD for the Standard model which has a range of 350 km.

Elon himself has tweeted that the Australia price will just be a straight US price in AUD plus the import duties and GST.

If we do some rough estimations based on the conversion rate they use to sell the Model S/X, add in GST, duties and the various other taxes that base price translates to around $55,000 AUD drive away at current USD/AUD conversion rates. This is before options, and is a best case scenario.

We’ve developed our own Australian Model 3 pricing calculator, so be sure to have a play around with that if you’re interested in seeing the potential out of pocket cost for an Australian-delivered Tesla Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 key details

Tesla Model 3StandardMid RangeLong Range AWDPerformance
Table last updated Dec 2018
Release Date & AvailabilityOn Sale Mid 2019
Official Price$35,000 USD
$41,000 USD$48,000 USD$64,000 USD
Estimated Drive Away Price~$58,000 AUD~$65,000 AUD~$80,000 AUD~$114,000 AUD
Electric Range
(EPA Range)
344 km416 km496 km496 km
0-100 km/h5.6 Seconds5.6 Seconds4.5 Seconds3.3 Seconds
Battery~53 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
~62 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
~78 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
~78 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
Drivetrain192 kW Rear Wheel 3 Phase Permanent Magnet MotorFront AC Induction Motor
Rear Switched Reluctance, Partial Permanent Magnet Motor
Front AC Induction Motor
Rear Switched Reluctance, Partial Permanent Magnet Motor
Performance drive units are lot sorted for highest sigma output & get double the burn-in process
Seats4-door fastback sedan, seats 5 passengers
ChargingLikely CCS Type 2 (Unconfirmed)
Vehicle & Battery WarrantyVehicle warranty for 4 years or 80,000 km, whichever comes first.

The Battery and Drive Unit for a period of 8 years or 160,000 km (192,000 km for longer range variants), whichever comes first, with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period.

Although the Tesla Model 3 is gorgeous from the outside, the interior is where it truly shines. Some will love it and some will hate it but either way you can’t deny Tesla have taken a huge leap when it comes to the insides.

Gone are the huge arrays of buttons. Everything from the music system to climate controls to the glove box opener has been tightly integrated into that huge 15.4″ centre display. Serving as both the main entertainment, navigation and dashboard it is said to be extremely solid, bright, responsive and very easy to get used to.

You’ll also notice that there are no air vents either. This is because of the completely newly designed air vent that runs across the whole dashboard just above the wood grain decor. Using a new system it can direct air both horizontally and vertically in any direction as specified by the on screen controls. As a result you get the same great results but without ugly air vents dotted all over the front.

AWD and Performance variants

With the limited information we’ve been given so far about the AWD and Performance models they seem to be quite desirable.

The AWD version has a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and an identical 496 km range as the Long Range model for only about $9,000 AUD more. $9,000 is a fair amount considering it only reduces that 0-60 time by 0.6 seconds but for those that like better cornering and need it for snow driving it’s a good option to have.

The Performance version is where it really starts to get interesting though. Coming in at an estimated ~$138,000 AUD drive away it’s a good deal more expensive. That does include any paint colour you want, the bigger wheels as well as the Premium Upgrades Package though which if you were to add to any of the other options would be an extra $11,000+ AUD.

The more impressive thing though is that it gives it an acceleration only second to their flagship Model S P100D model. The Model S P100D does 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds vs the Model 3 Performance which does it in 3.5 seconds. Either one is neck-snappingly fast and would make for an amazing ride.

As an added interesting new feature, the two motors are capable of operating independently from each other. Which means if one of them breaks down for whatever reason, you’ll still be able to drive the car to a service center on the other motor.

What’s the Tesla Model 3 like to drive?

Given the huge popularity of the Model 3 there are already an abundance of reviews available online even though the car itself is still quite rare. So to start with there’s an exceptionally brilliant – as well as very long and very in depth – look provided by the Model 3 Owners Club.

Here they go through almost every possible question you might have about the Model 3. From whether you can sleep in the back to super small details like the clips in the Frunk that hold your grocery bags.

Next we have a number of reviews from many different sites all giving their own unique perspectives and opinions.

Then we have a number of “first impressions” or “first drive” videos from various people. If you’d like a little more relaxed style overview of the Model 3 have a look at the below test drive video. In it we see a more normal man’s reactions to a few of the features of the Model 3, an initial drive and even the various car settings.

There’s also another semi-professional review and first impression as told by Daniel Burns below.

And finally there’s this one from a British perspective which is nice as most of the other main ones are from an American viewpoint.

As production ramps up I’m sure we’ll start to see Australian specific reviews as well as ones with RHD models pop up. Tesla will also be allowing people with a pre order to test drive one of them at their local Tesla store before they purchase it. Hopefully after 2019 when the backlog is dealt with and their production rate is far higher test drives won’t be hard to come by just like they are now with the Model S/X.

Tesla Model 3 – Battery, Charging and Power

As a pure electric vehicle it’s important that potential owners understand the options for charging the Tesla Model 3.

Supercharger Network
Model S, 3 and X. Source: hkibad via reddit

Once again, we haven’t gotten any concrete word on exactly how the Model 3 will charge here in Australia but it’s a safe bet that it’ll be similar to what the Model S/X is now.

Currently Tesla has their very famous Tesla Supercharger network plus their other huge Tesla Destination network. I’d be highly surprised if the Model 3 didn’t work with both of them so charging it up shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Left: Supercharger Locations. Right: Destination Charger Locations. Source: tesla.com

You can currently drive from Adelaide to Brisbane (through Melbourne and Sydney) using existing Superchargers. Tesla is also planning on essentially doubling the number of locations by the end of 2018 too. So by the time the Model 3 is available here there will be plenty of them to go around.

Regarding the battery we already know the Tesla Model 3 has an EPA Rated range of 336 km for the “Standard” model and 496 km for the “Long Range”. These are excellent amounts and easily out do other new EV’s such as the Nissan Leaf (240 km). Even the longer range Leaf is said to only have about 360 km range which is what the Model 3 offers as its base option.

Supercharger Network

Regarding how fast the Tesla Model 3 will charge we already have some key figures given by Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 Standard:
Supercharging rate: 208 km of range per 30 minutes
Home charging rate: 48 km of range per hour (240V outlet, 32A)

Tesla Model 3 Long Range:
Supercharging rate: 272 km of range per 30 minutes
Home charging rate: 60 km of range per hour (240V outlet, 40A)

The charging port is hidden under the tail light. Source: teslarati.com

Just like with the Model S and X, the charging port is concealed elegantly under the rear taillight. There are many ways to open it and it is motorised so it can automatically close and open for you.

What does the interior of the Tesla Model 3 looks like?

As mentioned earlier one of the most striking differences between the Tesla Model 3 and virtually every other production car is its interior. It’s abundantly clear that a huge amount of thought, engineering and hard work has gone into the design. They have invented an entirely new way to handle AC airflow, the user interface and even adjusting the steering column.

The result is a stunningly clean and futuristic looking space that really sets the car as an example of what future innovation looks like. Not everyone will agree obviously – beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all – but early reports are that the highly radical departure from most normal car interiors is very easily adjusted to.

It might seem strange not having physical buttons for AC but then again, it seemed strange not having a physical keyboard on our phones until the original iPhone proved it could be done right.

There’s also an option to upgrade to Tesla’s white interior that is supposed to be even more stain resistant than the black. Further options like the Premium Upgrade Package add in extras like heated seats throughout, rear USB ports, 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles, premium audio system with tweeters and subwoofer as well as a tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection.

The white interior option for the Model 3. Source: electrek.com

In the back there is also the huge rear glass roof that sweeps over anyone lucky enough to ride there. Early videos have noted that even 6 feet 4 inch people can comfortably sit in the back without hitting their heads or pushing up against the front seats. The rear seats also fold down and the centre arm rest comes with cup holder as well.

With such a unique look and feel the Tesla Model 3 is on the bleeding edge of interior design and technology. Features such as a huge screen for navigation, internet streaming services and dual mobile phone holders make it a dream for any tech lover.

What other great features does it have?

Adding to that leap forward in technology the Tesla Model 3 also unlocks using only your phone. There’s no bulky key fob to carry and you don’t even have to take out your phone. You simply walk up to it and it will recognise your phone, authorise you and unlock before you get to the door handle.

On top of this you can use the same phone app to get a wealth of information on the car just as you do currently with the Model S/X. You can check the cars temperature and turn on/off the climate control, start or stop the car charging and check it’s status plus even track it’s location in real time. Good for if your children ever think they can take it out for a joy ride!

With a software upgrade option you can also unlock Enhanced Autopilot and Fully Self-Driving Capability. If you’d like to learn more about what each of these do you can read our Tesla Autopilot Guide here.

There are also a huge number of large and small details that we haven’t mentioned simply because there’s just too much even to fit in this huge guide. Things like the Frunk (front trunk), Over The Air (OTA) software updates, a skylight in the boot to help see inside when it’s dark, industry leading safety that’s significantly better than even the best “safe cars” available today, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE Internet Connectivity, voice controls, back-up camera as well as eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking. There’s just so much!

Summing Up – the new standard for all cars

Tesla are known for their super high tech cars that are not only hugely desirable but that also just happen to be all electric. It’s immediately obvious that the Tesla Model 3 is a Tesla. The styling is very close to the original Model S with a few tweaks to evolve the look and feel. These were also done to make the production of the Model 3 cheaper, faster and easier given they’re aiming to pump out 500,000 of them each year.

However it’s also obvious that with the Model 3 Tesla have well and truly raised the bar for all other manufacturers. With such a desirable, fast and high tech car soon to be available starting at around $55,000 AUD drive away everyone else is going to have to work hard just to keep up.

A huge amount of Australian’s are thinking about buying an EV as their next car and given the features, speed, technology, looks, safety and more advantages that the Model 3 has over the competition they could sell like hot cakes.

Tesla Model 3 in silver
Tesla Model 3 in silver

With its huge 336 km range – or 496 km if you’re so inclined – driving inside or even well outside of any city is easily handled. Plus with their Supercharger network Tesla handily addresses the family driving holiday or business trip interstate too. As such a Model 3 could confidently become a family’s main or even only car. And once most people get in a Tesla… they don’t usually accept anything else again.

The Tesla Model 3 gives buyers in Australia a great looking car that will not only mature well with OTA software updates but perform better than any other car in its class. Coming in at what looks to be a similar price to other EV’s but with far superior features and power it’s not hard to imagine its sales exploding once word gets out.

And while Tesla might not be able to make enough of them to transition every car in Australia – or the world – to electric it will force every other car company to either keep up or die out.

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