Tesla Model 3 gains 200kW charging upgrade

A firmware upgrade coming this weekend will allow AWD versions of the Tesla Model 3 to be charged at 200kW

The Tesla Model 3 will receive an over-the-air update this weekend that will boost its maximum charging speed to 200kW.

The upgrade applies to all-wheel-drive versions of the car, namely the Model 3 Long Range and Model 3 Performance.

However, the Model 3 Long Range was pulled from sale in the UK last week, meaning customers on these shores will need to buy the top-spec Performance in order to benefit from 200kW charging.

Rapid charging will be possible on the IONITY network, as well as those provided by Fastned and others.

Earlier this year, Tesla announced a worldwide upgrade to its Supercharger network: this will see the Model 3’s maximum charging rate raised again to 250kW as the new Superchargers are installed over the course of the next year.

The announcement comes a week after the Model 3 line-up was reduced to Standard Range Plus and Performance variants in the UK, just a month after the car’s launch.

To compensate for the removal of the Model 3 Long Range, the top-spec Performance variant's price was dropped from £56,900 to £48,590 – almost as low as the now-defunct Long Range’s asking price of £47,900.

The entry-level Model 3 Standard Range Plus also saw its price fall, from £38,900 to £38,050.

Though not as fast as the Performance model, the Long Range had a longer range: 348 miles versus 329 miles, according to the WLTP efficiency test.

Meanwhile, Tesla has also limited interior trim options to a single colour (black), however a tweet from CEO Elon Musk suggested the currently-unavailable white trim will soon be reinstated.

The move is set to leave early Model 3 Long Range buyers out of pocket, with the first deliveries expected to take place this month.

Tesla indicated to DrivingElectric that it'll look at what can be done to help affected customers, although it is yet to confirm how it'll respond.

Such a move would make sense for both customers and the company: buyers can return their cars free of charge if they change their minds within a week of ownership or 1,000 miles of driving, whichever comes first.

Elsewhere, prices for the Tesla Model S and Model X saw a slight fall.

Tesla Model 3 specifications

The rear-wheel-drive Model 3 Standard Range Plus – Tesla’s cheapest car to date – will deliver 258 miles of range according to the WLTP efficiency test. Accelerating 0-60mph takes 5.3 seconds, with a top speed of 140mph.

The top-spec Model 3 Performance costs from £48,590, and uses a dual-motor system to provide all-wheel drive. It’ll do 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds en route to a top speed of 162mph.

Car Price Range (WLTP) 0-60mph Top speed
Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus £38,050 258 miles 5.3 seconds 140mph
Tesla Model 3 Performance £48,590 329 miles 3.2 seconds 162mph

Tesla hasn’t disclosed battery sizes for the Model 3, although the range figures suggest it’s using the same 100kWh unit found in top-spec versions of the Model S and Model X.

All prices include the Government’s £3,500 plug-in car grant.

All versions come with Autopilot as standard, allowing the Model 3 to accelerate, brake and steer itself on motorways and dual-carriageways.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability promises even more autonomous driving, although it costs an extra £5,800. It is also available to buy after customers have taken delivery of their cars, although Tesla warns that prices are likely to increase over time as updates are released.

Inside, the Model 3 features a minimalist interior typical of the Tesla range, with a 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard controlling all of the car’s functions.

Four USB sockets are provided so passengers can charge handheld devices, and the Model 3 can connect two smartphones to it’s on-board system at a time.

Performance cars benefit from a premium interior package, which introduces powered, heated seats, a 14-speaker audio system with online music streaming, plus satellite-view maps with live traffic updates and navigation.

There are five colours to choose from, although Solid Black is the only one that doesn’t cost extra. Might Silver and Deep Blue cost £950, while Multi Coat Red and Pearl White cost £1,900.

Standard Range Plus versions of the Model 3 get 18-inch Aero Wheels as standard, with optional 19-inch Sport Wheels priced at £1,450.

The Performance version of the Model 3 get 20-inch Performance Wheels as standard, in addition to aluminium alloy pedals, red brake callipers, a carbon fibre rear spoiler and a Track Mode for circuit driving.

All Model 3s are covered by a four-year warranty. The first customers to have put down their deposit will take delivery of their cars in June.

Charging

The Tesla Model 3 will be sold in Europe with a CCS (Combined Charging System) charging port, opening it up to thousands of third party fast charging stations across the continent.

A few months ago, Tesla confirmed that its Supercharger network will soon gain CCS cables in addition to the already-installed DC Type 2 connectors, with retrofitting beginning at stations on the busiest routes.

A CCS adaptor will also be made available to purchase for Model S and Model X owners further down the line, eventually giving them the same third-party fast charging access should they want it. Prices for the adaptors are yet to be confirmed, but a figure of around €500 (£435) is expected.

Charging network extensions

The Tesla Supercharger network already stretches across 430 locations in 23 European countries, having grown by more than 30% in 2018. But even so, Tesla is keen to ensure that Model 3 owners aren’t kept waiting to charge their batteries.

Last summer a Supercharger session was started on average every 10 seconds, and with increasing demand on the horizon the need to boost capacity is clear.

By adopting CCS charging on the Model 3 – as well as giving Model S and Model X owners optional CCS compatibility – Tesla drivers will soon have an extra 5,500 charging points to choose from throughout Europe. More than 1,000 of these can be found in the UK.

According to Drew Bennett, Tesla’s head of global charging infrastructure, giving customers more choice is as much about offering peace of mind as it is about meeting demand.

“As the Model 3 has expanded here in North America, the way we’re seeing people use charging is that the Supercharger network helps them feel comfortable,” he explains. “Just in case, right? They don’t know what they’re worried about, but the fact that there's an always-available, fast solution makes them feel a lot better.”

Tesla anticipates that the majority of charging will continue to take place at home, where it’s usually most convenient for owners to plug in overnight. However, the company recognises that it can provide better “customer experience, capacity, availability and convenience” by embracing third-party charging networks.

“There’s two things I care about a lot when we think about charging,” says Bennett. “One is expanding the network so that people can continue to go everywhere that they want, anywhere they can imagine. That’s a big deal, and it takes an aggressive company to invest in that.

“The other thing is as we scale to maintain capacity on the network, what you’re going to see is that regional operators will continue putting stations where there are a lot of owners. And from our perspective, there’s no reason that that always has to be a Tesla charging station.”

Bennett insists that he doesn’t view charging companies such as IONITY as rivals for business, and that Tesla wants to “push the envelope” of sustainable energy and transportation.

With that in mind, expansion of the Tesla Supercharger network is set to intensify again, despite already seeing an average of eight stations opened in Europe each month in 2018.

“We’ll accelerate it for sure,” says Bennett. “We’re there to put infrastructure in before our owners need it. It’s absolutely our goal to be leading demand. By no means is giving our customers the chance to more conveniently use other stations diminishing our investment in the network.”