We drove exactly 1,608 kilometers aboard the least expensive Tesla Model 3, without ever fearing for autonomy. Why ? Because efficiency is at the rendezvous.
Autonomy is undoubtedly the first obstacle to the acquisition of a 100% electric car . And it’s completely legitimate: no one wants to end up with an empty battery in the middle of a journey. This is already the case with a telephone, which has become a vital object in our daily lives (this is not necessarily a good thing). When it is easy to anticipate a full tank of gas with a thermal vehicle, a 100% electric car requires a completely different organization, more focused on foresight.
Numerama was able to test the standard Tesla Model 3 — the one that increased in price recently — on long journeys, in this month of March 2022. We drove from Lille to Strasbourg, i.e. more than 500 kilometers — while the car is technically not capable of ensuring such a course without plugging in (510 kilometers, according to the WLTP cycle which does not reflect reality). Did we fear the breakdown? Not at all. Two reasons explain this assurance: the network of Superchargers, but above all the efficiency of the Model 3, that is to say its ability to use as little energy as possible when driving.
Forget autonomy, the real argument of a 100% electric car is its efficiency
Efficiency is essential, in the sense that it makes it possible to best optimize the energy capacity provided by a battery. This is a fairly exact science, without which manufacturers would make the following bet: install the largest battery possible, to obtain the greatest possible autonomy, taking into account the constraints of weight and size. Efficiency is obviously governed by a number of more or less controllable factors. There is the technological know-how of companies, which can design a less energy-consuming engine, for example. There are also the external conditions, the driving itself, the speed or the use of the comfort features.
The consumption of an electric car is expressed in kWh per 100 kilometres, ie, concretely, the energy the vehicle needs to cover these 100 kilometres. For a thermal vehicle, we are talking about liters of fuel consumed. The pattern is the same: the lower the fuel or kWh consumption, the longer the car will be able to drive.
Players in the automotive market are obviously looking for multiple ways to improve efficiency, to avoid stupidly increasing the size of the battery. They can go through visible equipment (example: aerodynamic rims) or invisible (example: a heat pump, which recycles hot air for better management of the temperature of the passenger compartment). In short, there are levers to move efficiency in the right direction. On this point, Tesla is really one of the good students.
16.9 kWh per 100 kilometers
We drove for exactly 1 608 kilometres, consuming 272 kWh in all. This gives a consumption of 16.9 kWh per 100 kilometers. It’s an excellent result, especially since we mostly drove on the motorway without trying to save energy (we stayed at the maximum authorized speed). On expressways, keeping the car at a high speed — 130 km/h — consumes a lot of energy (it’s the same with fuel, by the way). In this exercise, the Model 3 was very comfortable.
Here are the details of some of our trips: