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Tesla’s Model 3 – all the basics for future Model 3 owners in Australia

On the 28th of July Tesla had their delivery event for the Model 3, celebrating production of the first 50 cars during July and handing them over to their new owners, as well as release the final information about the Model 3.

Any new info is of course most relevant to the 400,000 or so reservation holders worldwide, given that anyone who orders a Model 3 now likely has at least an 18 month wait.

That being said, when it does hit Australian shores in 2019 the results will be quite interesting. It will really put the pressure on other EV’s such as the Nissan Leaf and especially the BMW i3. With its luxurious interior, sexy exterior, next generation technology, fantastic range, Supercharger network and very comparable pricing it’ll be a hard EV to pass up.

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.

The actual event was a little underwhelming. Elon made a grand entrance riding in on a bright red, fully kitted out Model 3, cracking jokes and explaining the production challenges they’re about to face. He then showed one slide with new details for about 15 seconds and that was it!

Below is a supercut put together by The Verge that sums up the 30 minutes delivery event nicely. Even though the presentation was very light on details Tesla released a press kit laying out all the details about the Model 3 afterwards.

The original Model 3 launch is still where it’s at for getting a feel for just how game-changing the Model 3 is likely to be. Below you can see the original event from last year where Elon could barely finish a sentence without the crowd screaming like a rock concert.

As most of the info surrounding the Model 3 is now known and confirmed, let’s run through all the questions you might want to know about it if you’re a potential buyer in Australia.

Why all the fuss 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 X which, while still expensive starting at $120,000+ AUD, they were much more accessible. They were also produced in far higher volumes too.

Tesla has won awards globally with their bigger Model S sedan being so good  that it not only broke the Motor Trends Consumer Reports rating system, but it also broke the Americans National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA ) crash testing equipment! It’s a truly amazing car – maybe the best car – the trouble is that the Tesla Model S costs at least $115,000+ AUD drive away here in Australia.

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.

Their new Model 3 has been designed from the ground up to be manufactured at a much higher volume of up to 500,000 per year, specifically so that it will cost less. Tesla have repeatedly made it clear their goal is to make it cost “half” of the Model S. Early estimates are expecting it to cost around $55,000 AUD drive away for the Standard range model making it far more affordable.

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 groundbreaking new features such as keyless 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.

At the same time Tesla has also worked hard to ensure that it’s still a Tesla at heart. If early test drives are anything to go by it looks like they’ve hit the nail on the head too.

I want one – when would a Tesla Model 3 be delivered to Australia?

Currently you can’t buy the Tesla motorModel 3 in Australia. There is a worldwide backlog of over 400,000 pre-orders that Tesla needs to fill plus they also need to develop a RHD version. They were currently quoting a sale date of “Early 2019” for it to hit Australian shores, however at best this will be for existing Tesla owners and those who reserved in the first weeks of it being available. When you can get your hands on one will depend on how quickly Tesla can pick up the pace of production.

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

How much will a Tesla Model 3 cost in Australia?

At this point it’s all speculation as they also haven’t given an exact Australian price for it 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.

We know there are two models available, the Standard (350 km range) for $35,000 USD and the Long Range (500 km range) for $44,000 USD.

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.

For the Long Range model they are quoting a price of $44,000 USD which again, using a rough estimation, translates to around $70,000 AUD drive away, before options.

Note though this doesn’t include any options or drive away costs and even then the costs are greatly affected by fluctuations in the exchange rate.

The Long Range model not only increases the range to 500 km but also drops the 0-60 mph time from 5.6 seconds to 5.1 seconds. That’s faster than the BMW 330i, Chevrolet Camaro V6, Jaguar F-Pace, Maserati Levante Q4, Mercedes SLC 300, Mercedes AMG GLE43, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, Subaru Impreza WRX and Volkswagen GTI Sport!

Also while not officially announced with full details or pricing yet, there is expected to be a dual motor configuration as well as a performance model released sometime this year. Hopefully all of them are available once the Tesla Model 3 becomes available to us here in Australia in early 2019.

Tesla Model 3 Australian Pricing Calculator

We’ve developed a price guesstimator / calculator for the Model 3 for when it lands in Australia, attempting to factoring what we do now about how Tesla prices the Model S and Model X locally.

We know the functionality isn’t quite 100% there on mobile – hint, swipe or scroll right. I’ll try and get it fixed at some point.

How will Aussies charge a Tesla Model 3?

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

The easiest way to charge your Model 3 is to just simply plug it into any power point at home, preferably in your garage!

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.

A standard 240V, 10A power point will supply 2.4kW per hour which is enough to add around 15km per hour. That may not sound like much but if you plug it in when you arrive home (say 6pm) and unplug it when you leave in the morning (say 6am), that’s 12 hours of charging or 180km.

There are also higher amperage chargers that you can buy from Tesla and have professionally installed in your garage to increase the charging rate to 45km per hour.

If for some reason you’re out on the road and running low on charge many wrongly believe that there’s no places to charge EV’s – however the super handy site Plug Share blows this myth out of the water.

Plug Share charging map
Plug Share charging map

As you can see, there’s a huge range plus currently Tesla has their very famous Tesla Supercharger network and 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 350 km for the “Standard” model and 500 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 colour and wheel options are available?

The base colour that won’t add any extra costs is a simple Solid Black. If you pay for the $1,000 USD paint upgrade you then have a further choice of Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic, Pearl White Multi-Coat and Red Multi-Coat.

Tesla Model 3 in silver
Tesla Model 3 in Silver Metallic – source: tesla.com

There are currently only two wheel options with the 18” Aero wheels being standard and the 19” Sport wheels costing $1,500 USD more.

Model 3 Aero Wheels
Standard 18″ Aero Wheels – source: teslarati.com
A Tesla Model S P100D in the store in New York with the 19″ Sports wheels

The first images of the “configurator”, where the Tesla website allows customers to configure the specs of their order, have been released via a customer on imgur:

Tesla Model 3 Configurator

As mentioned above, we still don’t have Australian prices for any of the models yet. However given Tesla currently gives prices for the Model S/X on both their Australian and American websites it’s very easy to translate the USD values given for the various options and extras available for the Model 3 into AUD prices.

For example, an extra for the Model S that costs $1,000 USD is currently sold in Australia for $1,400 AUD. Using this and other rates from their website we can assume the following optional extras for the Tesla Model 3 should cost somewhere around the following in AUD:

  • $1,400 – Any colour other than Black
  • $2,100 – 19″ Sports Wheels
  • $4,600 – White Premium Interior
  • $6,900 – Premium Upgrade Package
  • $6,900 – Enhanced Autopilot
  • $4,100 – Full Self-Driving Capability

If you were to add all of these to the Long Range Model 3, the AUD drive away prices could reach up to around $102,000! The performance model would likely push that even higher too. That being said, even the base Model 3 is a highly capable car that looks to be leagues ahead of even the latest competition.

What are the essential specs and key details?

Tesla Model 3StandardLong RangeAll-Wheel DrivePerformance
Table last updated May 2018
Release Date & AvailabilityOn Sale 2019
Official Price$35,000 USD
$44,000 USD$49,000 USD$78,000 USD
Estimated Drive Away Price~$55,000 AUD~$70,000 AUD~$79,000 AUD~$138,000 AUD
Electric Range
(EPA Range)
336 km496 km496 km496 km
0-100 km/h5.6 Seconds5.1 Seconds4.5 Seconds3.5 Seconds
Battery~50 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
~74 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
~74 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
~74 kWh Lithium Ion Battery
(No Official Figure Given)
Drivetrain192 kW Rear Wheel 3 Phase Permanent Magnet Motor192 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
ChargingTesla Connector
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.

Interior & Convenience:

  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • Onboard maps and navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control using the Tesla app

Safety:

  • Eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking
  • Six front row and two side curtain airbags
  • Electronic stability and traction control
  • Anti-theft alarm system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system

For more detailed specs visit the Tesla press kit page.

How does a Tesla Model 3 look inside?

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 and very easy to get used to.

Obviously this is going to be one of the most polarising features as most cars are the complete opposite with buttons and unknown switches covering every square inch.

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.

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.

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

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 sub woofer as well as a tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection.

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.

Is a Model 3 safe?

With eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking as well as the six front row and two side curtain airbags the Model 3 is likely to be rated the safest car in it’s class by a wide margin.

In their delivery presentation Tesla demonstrated how the Model 3 compares to the next most safe car in it’s class, a Volvo, by showing a side impact test.

Tesla Model 3 vs Volvo
Model 3 vs Volvo – source: tesla.com

It was a short clip but makes their point quite clear. Just like with the Tesla Model S, you’re much safer being in a Model 3 than any other car out there.

Where are the best reviews of the Model 3 so far?

As production is quite limited at the moment there aren’t any official reviews by major news outlets just yet it seems. So far Tesla has given the very few units it has produced to its priority customers and staff. These are the people who waited in line to put down a deposit, already own a Tesla or actually work for Tesla or SpaceX.

Besides from supporting the people that support Tesla, it’s also a great idea to push out the first few thousand cars to very local people so that if minor bugs or issues are found a worldwide recall isn’t needed.

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.

Moving on from there 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.

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.

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!

How about servicing costs and warranty stuff?

Currently there’s no Model 3 specific servicing costs from Tesla but it’s likely to be cheaper than the yearly service plans they have for the Model S and X. EV’s in general are much cheaper to service than traditional petrol or diesel cars as they have no spark plugs, oils, coolants or other components.

EV’s also quite often use regenerative braking which not only helps recharge the battery but also greatly prolongs the life of your brakes. Most servicing for EV’s only really involves rotating/replacing the tires and replacing the windscreen wipers!

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 350 km range – or 500 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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