Model 3 vs Model S: Which is better?
Price, power, range, and space: see which one stands out.
The base Model 3 is $36,000 (with the $1,000 delivery fee). The base Model S is about $75,000. Technically you could get two base Model 3’s for the same price as one base Model S. It’s safe to say that a Model 3 is half the price of Model S even when they have the same add-ons and options. The Model 3 is also more efficient than the Model S which means charging a Model 3 at home should cost less than charging a Model S. Given the price difference it’s also safe to assume for most people the car insurance should cost less for the Model 3.
Battery & Range
Tesla Model 3 comes with newer 2170 battery cells. Tesla claims that the 50 kWh Model 3 has a range of 220 miles, and the 75 kWh Long Range Model 3 has a range of 310 miles. According to tests, the Long Range Model 3 has a 78.3 kWh usable battery capacity compared to 72.6 kWh usable battery capacity in the Model S 75D. Even with the same 75 kWh batteries, the LR Model 3 actually has more usable capacity. According to EPA, the $45,000 LR Model 3 has 334 miles of range compared to the $94,000 Model S 100D which has 335 miles of range. That’s a difference of $50,000 in price with a difference of 1 mile in range. A Tesla executive said the 18” Aero wheels that come standard on the Model 3 can potentially add up to 10% range. Some tests have shown it’s more likely to be around 5%, but even then that’s still something that the Model S currently does not have as an option. According to FuelEconomy.gov, the Long Range Model 3 has 130 MPGe which is much better than 103 MPGe on Model S 75. On average, Long Range Model 3 only requires 26 kWh to travel 100 miles compared to 33 kWh per 100 miles on the Model S.
The Model 3 uses permanent magnet motors for high efficiency instead of induction motors that are used on the Model S. Permanent magnet motors used to be more expensive but have recently come down in price and have many advantages. The Model 3’s permanent magnet motors are lighter and have better track performance, reduce weight and improve handling. The induction motor on the Model S is larger, heavier, and less efficient resulting in more draw on the battery. Permanent magnet motors are more efficient than induction motors over a wide range of RPMs and more efficient at capturing regenerative energy at low speeds.
The Model 3 has a small interior-facing camera built into the rear view mirror, and while Tesla has not yet said what this camera will be officially used for, it’s most likely there to provide some type of facial recognition features for Autopilot or driver profiles, and it’s also very well meant to monitor the inside of the car when it’s used in Tesla’s future ride sharing network. The Model 3 center console has more storage space than the S, and with the Model 3 Premium Upgrade Package it also has charging docks for two smartphones. The Model 3 has coat hooks, lighted vanity mirrors, folding rear seat armrest with cup holders, and door pockets. The Model 3 infotainment computer has a liquid cooled & faster processor which results in a more responsive touchscreen. The Media Control Unit is now powered by an Intel SoC instead of the Nvidia Tegra chip in Model S. The Model 3’s minimalist interior also provides a better field of vision out of the windshield because it’s completely flat all the way across the dashboard since there is no instrument cluster and the front hood doesn’t stick out as much as it does on the Model S.
The Model S is about 11” longer and 4” wider than the Model 3. However, with the mirrors folded, the Model S is only about 1” wider. With the Model 3 being smaller, it’s most likely easier to park and maneuver in tight spaces. The Model 3 has been reported to have better handling because of it weighing less than the Model S. The lighter weight of the Model 3 also results in better range when compared to a Model S of the same battery capacity. The Model 3 has 1.5" more headroom in the front and 2.4" more headroom in the back compared to the Model S. Also, the Model 3 has the same amount of front legroom as the Model S, and only 0.2” less legroom in the back.
Those were the top 5 advantages that the Tesla Model 3 has over the Model S. Does that mean the Model 3 is a better car than the Model S? No. There are a ton of advantages that the Model S has over the Model 3, and I’m betting Tesla releases a refresh of the Model S soon.