Tesla Model 3 ‘refresh’ EPA ratings reveal efficiency improvements over 2019, 2020 variants

(Photo: Tesla Photographer/Instagram)

The official EPA range and efficiency ratings for Tesla’s Model 3 “refresh” have been posted, and they are quite impressive. Apart from the expected range upgrades listed by Tesla in the vehicle’s online configurator, it appears that the Model 3’s efficiency has also seen some improvements.

As per data from FuelEconomy.gov, The Model 3 Long Range AWD variant really does have a range of 353 miles per charge, a significant boost from its previous 322 miles. The Model 3 Performance received a slight boost, too, from 299 miles to 315 miles of range in a single charge.

InsideEVs broke down the efficiency numbers for the “refreshed” Model 3, which was labeled in FuelEconomy.gov as the 2021 Tesla Model 3. According to the site, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD’s range went up by 9.6% to 353 miles while its energy consumption decreased by about 11%, from 121 MPGe in the 2020 variant to 134 MPGe after the refresh. For additional perspective, the 2021 Model 3 LR AWD’s energy consumption is equivalent to 251 Wh/mi (156 Wh/km).

(Credit: US Department of Energy)

Tesla improved the range of its 2021 Model 3 Performance by 5.4% to 315 miles when compared to its 2020 counterpart fitted with 20″ Sport wheels. Unlike the Long Range AWD, the Model 3 Performance’s efficiency remained the same after the refresh at 113 MPGe or 298 Wh/mi (185 Wh/km).

The improved range of Tesla’s Model 3 refresh caught the interest of the EV community when news about its release first came out. Many people in the Tesla community wondered and speculated on the changes the company implemented to improve the Model 3’s efficiency. Among them was the addition of a heat pump to the all-electric sedan, which is used in the Model Y to optimize the vehicle’s range and efficiency in cold weather.

(Credit: US Department of Energy)

Tesla VP of Powertrain and Energy Engineering Drew Baglino confirmed the addition of a heat pump system in the Model 3 refresh during the recent Q3 earnings call.

“I was just going to say, I mean, I think one of the things we focused on with the Model Y and now Model 3 heat pump system was learning how to build a tightly integrated system capable of moving heat to and from anywhere really, powertrain, battery, cabin, the environment, outside ambient temperatures, all the way down to like negative 20 C, so 30 C,” Baglino said, answering a question about Tesla’s HVAC tech applied to home systems.

“I think like the heat — for heat pump in the car, being able to use the batteries both as a thermal and an electric energy reservoir is very significant,” Elon Musk elaborated.

Sandy Munro explained the significance of Tesla’s heat pump during his Model Y teardown. He noted that the heat pump system simplified the car’s climate control structure and provided Tesla a way to maximize the all-electric crossover’s efficiency. This bodes well for the vehicle’s performance in cold weather, possibly allowing the Model Y to maintain more of its estimated range even when operating in frigid temperatures.

Maria Merano: Veteran writer and editor, who believes harmony between tech and nature is achievable. We just need to learn to compromise.
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