How much has the Tesla Model 3 improved since it was first released in 2017?
On March 31st of 2016 Elon Musk presented the world with the Model 3 prototype vehicles, within just a few days there were over 300,000 reservations and it was obvious that this car would be a big hit.
The initial production and delivery ramp were very difficult and slow, with just over 1,700 vehicles being delivered in 2017. But now here we are just a few years later and Tesla is producing and delivering well over 300 thousand Model 3’S per year and the number is continually growing.
Tesla is never one to standstill when it comes to innovation. They are always innovating and improving their products, and the Model 3 is no different. Just how much has a Model 3 improved since the 1st 2017 Models until now?
One of the big changes that we’ll talk about in a minute is, of course, the available Models. The first Tesla Model 3’S that were delivered in 2017 was the long-range rear-wheel-drive units.
Here we are in 2020 and there are actually three Models to choose from. The standard range plus, the long range all-wheel drive unit, and of course the performance all-wheel drive.
We will go more in-depth with other Models that were available over the last couple of years, and also talked about how things have changed between those Models. But before we dive into that I want to talk about a few exterior changes that have happened over the last several years.
One of them was subtle changes for the Model 3 from the early Models was, of course, removing the problem with water dripping into the trunk. The early 2017 and 2018 Tesla Model 3’s had a very narrow channel in the weather stripping where the trunk met the glass.
Late 2019 or early 2020 they improved this weather stripping to have a much larger channel so that you no longer have water dripping into the trunk.
Something else that has changed is, of course, the UV coating on the glass. The newer Models still have this UV coating but it has a little bit different formulation.
When the original UV coating got wet it produced a beautiful rainbow effect, here’s a picture on Twitter from Tesla-tunity showing just how beautiful this was on the Model 3.
A lot of people love this and some people didn’t like it, the modern vehicles still have a UV coating, but it does not reflect light in that way anymore.
Model 3 Interior Changes
Tesla manufactures its seats and the original Model 3 seats have changed since 2017 to the current Models. Tesla Raj put up a great video showing the difference between a Gen 1 and Gen 2 seat if you’d like to check out the full video of the seat comparison CLICK HERE.
From gen 1 to Gen 2 Tesla has improved the comfort and styling of the seeds. one of the first easily recognizable changes, of course, the front midline seam on the back of the seat has been moved, also Tesla made the side bolsters and the seat bolsters a lot more firm.
They also added somewhere around two to three times more padding, this allows for a lot more comfort and allows you to be positioned in the seat a lot better.
They’ve also moved the stitching from the very front end of the seat and moved that down so it has a lot more comfort for the leg. They have also added more thigh support at the end of the seat.
Everyone that I have heard talk about the difference between the Gen 1 and the gen 2 seats agree that the Gen 2 seats are much more comfortable and are an improvement.
Something else that has been added since the early Models were delivered as Tesla now has the key fob available for the Tesla Model 3.
It’s not included when you purchase the vehicle but for $150 you can buy it from Tesla’s parts. This gives you three options to get into your Model 3.
You can either use the app on your phone, you can use the keycard or now you can purchase and use the key fob.
Model 3 Efficiency Improvements
As I mentioned the only Model that Tesla delivered in 2017 was a long-range rear-wheel drive unit.
Although Tesla is not technically selling the same Model 3 in 2020, fuel economy gov still has the numbers for the 22 long-range rear-wheel drive unit.
Tesla has gone through the process of officially getting this car tested so it might be something they bring back in the future. If you look at the efficiency of these two vehicles you can see that Tesla has made the Model 3 a lot more efficient.
According to the EPA if they bring this Model back out it will have an estimated range of 330 miles, a big improvement over the 310 of the 2017 Model.
In 2018 Tesla released the long-range all-wheel drive unit and you’ll see even from then, they have gained an extra 12 miles from 2018 to 2020 models. There has also been an improvement in the performance Model going from 310-mile range to a 322-mile range.
2018 vs 2020 Model 3 Long Range AWD
|City MPGe||Highway MPGe||Combined MPGe||Range|
If you go to the Tesla website right now, and if you add the performance package to the Tesla Model 3 you’ll see that it changes to a 299-mile range instead of the 322 miles that you see with the 18-inch wheels.
According to the fuel economy gov website they have given the Tesla Model 3 three different rankings. If you don’t add the performance package you get 322 miles of range and that has the 18-inch wheels.
If you put the 19-inch wheels on the vehicle you get somewhere around 304 miles of range, and of course, if you put the 20-inch performance wheels on there you’ll get somewhere around 299 miles of range.
Then we also have the standard range Plus which was available starting in 2019. You’ll see that even it has improved since then gaining an extra 10 miles since it was first released.
Model 3 Specification & Price Changes
I’m going to break this down by Model and we’re going to talk about some of the Models that are no longer available and some that still are. The long-range rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 was available from 2017 to early 2019.
You’ll see there from 2017 to 2019 that the 0 to 60 mile per hour time went down, the range went up 15 miles, and also the cost went down between four and six thousand dollars depending on when you purchased it.
If you look at the long-range all-wheel-drive Model 3 which is available starting in 2018, you’ll see that they have also improved the 0 to 60 miles per hour time, increased the range 12 miles, and also the prices have come down since they first released it.
|LR RWD||0-60||Range||Top Speed||Cost|
|2017||5.0 Sec||310 Miles||140 MPH||$49,000|
|2018||5.0 Sec||310 Miles||140 MPH||$49,000|
|2019||4.9 Sec||325 Miles||140 MPH||$43-$45k|
|LR AWD||0-60||Range||Top Speed||Cost|
|2018||4.5 Sec||310 Miles||145 MPH||$53-$54k|
|2019||4.5 Sec||310 Miles||145 MPH||$47-$51k|
|2020||4.4 Sec||322 Miles||145 MPH||$48,990|
|2018||3.5 Sec||310 Miles||155 MPH||$64,000|
|2019||3.5 Sec||310 Miles||155 MPH||$58-$62k|
|2020||3.2 Sec||322 Miles||162 MPH||$56,990|
And also for the performance Model which was available starting in 2018, you’ll see that the zero to 60 mile per hour time has gone down, the range has gone up, the top speed has gone up and of course, the cost has come down.
The standard range unit which was available starting in 2019, but if you look at the standard range plus from 2019 to 2020 it has gained 10 miles of range.
And of course, a Model which they no longer have available, and that was only available for a short period in 2018 and 2019 you have the mid-range rear-wheel drive unit and that got about two thousand dollars cheaper between 2018 and 2019.
Model 3 Hardware & Software Changes
In 2017 Tesla Model 3 shipped with what has been called hardware 2.5. Based on what Tesla knows now, that computer is not full self-driving capable Hardware.
The 2.5 was able to process 30 trillion operations per second and could process a hundred and ten frames per second, here we are in 2020 and Tesla Model 3 ships with hardware 3.0.
2017: Hardware 2.5 (Nvidia Drive PX2)
- Not FSD Capable
- Can process 110 frames per second
2020: Hardware 3.0 (Tesla FSD Computer)
- Should be FSD capable
- 144 Trillion operations per second (Tops)
- Can process 2,300 frames per second (21X)
Tesla has moved away from an Nvidia and now it has its in-house design chip, the Tesla full self-driving computer in their vehicles. Based on what we know this computer should be fully self-driving capable once that software is complete.
This computer can do 144 trillion operations per second, a vast improvement over the 30 trillion operations of hardware 2.5.
It’s able to process 2300 frames per second, which is somewhere around a 21 X increase from Hardware 2.5. For those customers that purchased full self-driving in these early Tesla Models, they are getting a free upgrade to this new computer.
Since 2017 Tesla has also changed the way they sell autopilot. In 2017 if you wanted the basic autopilot features you paid $5,000, if you wanted the full self-driving package you needed to pay an extra $3,000, in 2020 basic autopilot is now included free in the vehicle.
Basic autopilot allows your car to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically for other vehicles, and pedestrians within its lane. If you want to add the self-driving package that now costs an additional $7,000.
Autopilot Cost Change
|2017: Autopilot ($5,000 + $3,000 FSD)|
|2020: Basic Autopilot (Free + $7,000 FSD)|
Full self-driving features that were not available in 2017, but that are available here in 2020 are of course navigate on autopilot. This allows your car to automatically drive from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, also including interchanges and overtaking slower cars.
We have auto lane change which changes lanes automatically while driving on the highway, it includes an auto park, and summon which allows your car to come to find you anywhere in a parking lot.
Coming later in 2024 the hardware 3.0 vehicles will be able to recognize and respond to traffic lights, stop signs, and do some automatic driving on city streets.
From the Model 3’s launch in 2017, there have been hundreds of software updates and improvements. I can’t talk about every single one of these changes, but I did want to take a moment to talk about some of the notable features that were not available in 2017.
Tesla has added entertainment features like Spotify, Tesla cinema, Tesla arcade, and of course karaoke. They added some really important security features like sentry mode and dash-cam. Another important feature that was added to keep your animals safe in dog mode.
As we mentioned before they have added features like smart summon and navigate on autopilot, plus the enhanced visualizations that people have with 3.0 computers.
Recently Tesla added two very important features like voice commands which allow you to control various aspects of your car with just your voice, and also the ability to read and respond to text messages hands-free.
One of their big changes that I want to talk about before the end of this article, is, of course, the made-in-china Model 3.
In 2017 the only Tesla Model 3’s that were being built were in the Fremont factory in California. Here we are in 2020 and Tesla Model 3’s are now also being built in Shanghai China. Here’s a picture from J and Shanghai on Twitter showing the Tesla Model 3 made in China.
As I mentioned Tesla is not one to stand still. They are constantly improving their vehicles and it’s obvious that the Tesla Model 3 has gotten better, even in a very short period.
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