The 18-inch Aero Wheels are the default option for the Model 3, and while their aesthetics continue to polarize some buyers of the electric car, Tesla states that the wheel covers are capable of increasing the range of the mass market electric sedan. This statement was recently put to the test by a Model 3 owner, who conducted a real-world analysis comparing the differences in energy consumption when the car is fitted with and without the vehicle’s Aero Wheel covers.
The Model 3 owner used as close to a controlled environment as possible for collecting baseline data. Variables such as speed, weather, steering, and lane changes were also minimized to enable a relatively accurate comparison of the electric mass-market electric sedan’s efficiency when driving with and without the removable aerodynamic wheel covers.
The test video revealed that both runs were conducted in 54-degree Fahrenheit weather, following a route that starts from Los Angeles to West Covina, CA. The same speed was maintained during both runs, with the Model 3 traveling at a constant 70 mph for most of the test’s duration. Heat and A/C were turned off in the test as well. Autopilot was used in both runs as much as possible, to maintain a similar steering behavior. The entire test ran for 17.5 miles, which translated to around 16 minutes of driving. Both attempts were done roughly one hour apart.
The results of the Model 3 Aero Wheels vs. Non-Aero Wheels test are quite compelling. According to the data gathered from the YouTuber’s analysis, Model 3 without the wheel covers maintained an efficiency of 282 Wh per mile. Equipping the Aero Wheels, on the other hand, averaged 270 Wh per mile, translating to a 4.3 percent improvement.
While the recent test conducted by Prolifk resulted only in a marginal range improvement, it is pertinent to note that a significant amount of engineering went into the design of the lightweight hubcap and wheel assembly.
As revealed in a recent conversation in the TESLA MODEL 3 Owners Club on Facebook. Robert Palin, Tesla’s former Senior Manager of Aerodynamics, provided some interesting information about the mass market compact sedan’s range-extending wheel covers. According to Palin, the Model 3’s 18-inch Aero Wheels work in two ways, with the covers helping efficiency in high speeds and the lightweight allow used for the actual rims being useful for low-speed city driving. The Tesla executive also noted that the Model 3’s covers are more than 50 percent more effective than the ill-fated and short-lived Model S aero caps of yesteryear.
The Model 3 proved to be the second coming of the Aero Wheel option, however, with Tesla pushing the covers as the default accessory for the mass market electric sedan. Thanks to the covers’ improved aesthetics and the fact that they could be removed easily, the 18-inch Aero Wheels for the Model 3 are starting to gain acceptance from the Tesla community.