Tesla Model 3 becomes best-selling electric car in Europe

The new Tesla Model 3 has become Europe's best-selling electric car in its first month of sale

The new Tesla Model 3 has become the best-selling electric car in Europe in only its first month of sale, according to data from analysts JATO Dynamics.

It says 3,630 Model 3s were sold in Europe in February, with the Renault ZOE and Nissan Leaf earning 2,888 and 2,364 sales respectively.

The feat is all the more remarkable given that the Model 3 remains unavailable in some European markets, including the UK.

Late last year Tesla confirmed European pricing for the all-wheel-drive models of its Model 3 saloon, with the Long Range version coming in at €58,000 and the Performance variant at around €70,000.

That converts to approximately £49,500 and £59,600 respectively. The Model 3 is expected to launch in the UK midway through 2019.

The Model 3 is the smallest car in Tesla’s range, and the most affordable. Demand is expected to be high: the US manufacturer claims the 325,000 reservations it received in its first seven days make it the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever.

Tesla Model 3 range and performance

When it reaches our shores, the Tesla Model 3 will initially be available Long Range and Performance versions, both with all-wheel-drive. The Long Range model's range has been calculated as 338 miles under the latest WLTP testing procedure, and it'll get from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds.

The Performance will be capable of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, with top speed of 155mph. Despite its increased performance, it boasts very nearly the same range as the standard model, at a WLTP-calculated 329 miles. A lowered ride height, performance brakes, a carbon-fibre spoiler and Track Mode will also be included, together with 20-inch wheels.

Later, Standard Range and Mid Range models will join the line-up, along with a rear-wheel-drive Long Range car.

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.

Tesla has also confirmed that its Supercharger network will soon gain CCS cables in addition to the already-installed DC Type 2 connectors, with retrofitting to begin at stations on the busiest routes. Future charging stations will be fitted.

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 when the Model 3 arrives on this side of the Atlantic in 2019, owners aren’t kept waiting to charge their batteries.

Earlier this 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 over the last year.

“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.”