Five Things We Don’t Like About The Tesla Model 3 Electric Car (Based On What We Know So Far)

Yesterday, we brought you the first in a trilogy of posts reacting to the official unveiling last week of the Tesla Model 3, an all-electric mid-sized car which Tesla has promised will retail from $35,000 before incentives, offer a range of at least 215 miles per charge in its entry-level configuration, and come with both supercharger and autopilot hardware built into each and every vehicle.

That post, including input from all of our editorial team, detailed the Five Things We Like About The Tesla Model 3 Electric Car (Based On What We Know So Far)and ended by suggesting that the Tesla Model 3 could be the Model T Ford of the modern age. As we explained yesterday, three of our editorial team — Stephen Noctoroccasional writer Mark Chatterley and columnist Electragirl (and by association her husband Michael Thwaite) — have stepped up to the plate and put down their own $1,000 deposit for a place in the queue to buy a Tesla Model 3. They join more than 300,000 Tesla Model 3 deposit holders worldwide.  Two — Kate Walton Elliott and this author — have, after discussion with our respective families, decided the Model 3 (in its current configuration) simply wouldn’t suit our needs or lifestyles.

While we enjoyed the hype of the Model 3 launch as much as everyone else, there are some things we're not keen on.

We enjoyed the hype of the Model 3 launch but there are some things we’re not keen on about the Model 3

Just like yesterday, when all members of the team — deposit holders or not — had their say in the five things we like about the Model 3, today we’re going to use input from everyone on the Transport Evolved team to give you the five things we don’t like about the Tesla Model 3.

That nose… oh that nose

Yesterday, we explained that we unanimously liked the overall design of the Tesla Model 3 electric car. Today, we’re explaining the one thing we all agree needs work: that massive nose.

Each member of the team has used their own unique way to describe it and — to save their own face as well as embarrassment to Tesla — we’re going to refrain from sharing them here. But sufficed to say, everyone on the Transport Evolved staff feels that the Model 3’s massive, flat, featureless nose needs work.

Luckily for us, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has already promised multiple times via Twitter that the Tesla Model 3 will get a front-end revision before it enters production. We’re not sure quite what Tesla has in mind, but we do know that it has revised vehicle design in the past based on reservation and enthusiast feedback.

As this author put it earlier this week on Twitter, there’s only one solution in my mind: the scanner from KITT.

The trunk — specifically its tiny aperture

While the beautiful full-length glass roof is indeed a work of art (and some clever engineering to boot) many of the Transport Evolved team are feeling a little frustrated about the sedan form factor which results from that same glass roof.

The glass roof is beautiful but also means a tiny trunk opening. And that's not so nice.

The glass roof is beautiful but also means a tiny trunk opening. And that’s not so nice.

Rather than the full-size, automatic hatchback found on the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars, the Tesla Model 3 features a deep, rear trunk with sedan-style access (a saloon boot for the Brits among us).

Is it a deal breaker? For the one person on our editorial team who said they’d prefer a hatchback the answer was no — but for two it was. (The other two said they were fine with the design as it stands).

We get it: the sedan (as a vehicle style) is far more popular in the U.S. than it is in Europe, where the two of us who classed it as a deal-breaker hail from. But it isn’t just Europeans who are finding the small trunk aperture on the Model 3 more than a little frustrating.

At $35,000 before incentives, the Tesla Model 3 is the kind of car which many had hoped would be a ‘one-size fits all’ car. In short, they’d hoped it would be versatile car that could carry the kids, the dogs, and cope with the occasional trip to the hardware store or garden centre without a care in the world.

While sedan/saloon body styles can still cope with the latter (more so thanks to folding seats), the lack of hatchback on the Model 3 makes it a far less practical everyday car. Rather than being the only car you’ll ever need, we suspect most families will find themselves retaining a hatchback (or gas-guzzling SUV) to ensure they have all their bases covered.

The lack of choice on solid vs glass roof

While we're on the subject, a choice of glass vs metal would have been nice.

While we’re on the subject, a choice of glass vs metal would have been nice.

While this one certainly split the team down the middle, with some liking the airy glass roof and other not liking it, we’re all in agreement that it would be nice for Tesla to offer both a solid and a glass roof option for Model 3 customers.

Why? The Tesla Model 3 is a car which we know will be sold to customers with something of a bespoke, à la carte menu of optional extras, just as the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X have been.

The Model S has always been offered with a choice of roof designs, allowing customers to choose between a solid metal roof and the full-length panoramic sunroof. While the presence of the glass roof on the Model 3 was explained partly as a way to increase interior volume, we can’t help but wonder if Tesla’s engineers could come up with a solid, non-glass alternative for those who prefer solid metal above their heads.

We’re hoping Tesla has something planned in this regard too, because it could pair up nicely with a redesigned hatchback-style variant.

Not knowing if Supercharging will be free

A long time ago, Elon Musk had dropped some pretty big hints indicating that the Tesla Model 3 would come Supercharger-enabled. True to his word, last week he confirmed that every Tesla Model 3 will leave the factory with Supercharging hardware included as standard alongside autopilot hardware as standard.

We don't know if Supercharging will be free...

We don’t know if Supercharging will be free…

But what we don’t know — and Tesla isn’t prepared to share yet — is how much it’ll cost to use the Supercharger network.

At the moment everyone with a Supercharger-capable Model S or Model X (that’s pretty much every Tesla Model S on the road and every Tesla Model X in existence) can use the Supercharger network for free as little or as much as they want.

It’s fair to say too that this particular capability is one of the killer-features of Tesla’s electric cars — so not knowing quite how Tesla plans to offer Supercharging for Model 3 owners is something of a frustration.

When we broached the subject with Tesla yesterday, an official spokesperson made the following statement.

“All Model 3 will have the capability for Supercharging. We haven’t specified (and aren’t right now) whether supercharging will be free.”

The fact it’s not yet finished

In the automotive world, it’s fairly common for an automaker to showcase a concept (and sometimes early production intent) vehicle with a limited set of specifications.

We know what it looks like -- but there's a lot we're still not being told.

We know what it looks like — but there’s a lot we’re still not being told.

It’s not usual for a company to begin taking deposits at the same time.

If we’re honest, this is a gripe more about the way Tesla is handling the Model 3 launch than it is the car itself — but many of us on the Transport Evolved team were frustrated by the lack of information given by Tesla on Thursday last week when it unveiled the Model 3 for the first time.

Indeed, watch some of the early first-ride videos on YouTube, and it’s clear that while Tesla has working alpha prototype Model 3 cars, they’re nowhere near ready for market and Tesla hasn’t tied down specification yet.

On one ride we watched, the Tesla employee explained various features — including the window control and the entire graphical user interface for the center console — were still ‘works in progress’. Similarly, no mention of battery pack size or motor specification leads us to believe that Model 3 design is still very much in a state of flux.

Why is it frustrating? Namely, some of us on the team like to know what we’re buying before we buy it, and while the Model 3 deposit is fully refundable, $1,000 is quite a large investment when you’re not 100 percent sure what you’ll get at the other end.

What about you?

We’ve shared some of our collective dislikes about the Model 3 — and tomorrow we’ll be sharing five things that we should all remember about the Tesla Model 3. But in the meantime, we’re keen to know what you think of the Model 3. Yesterday we asked you to share your likes — now tell us your dislikes in the Comments below.


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  • KenFromEmpowerMac

    Elon Tweeted that Supercharging would be included. He also mentioned that they are working on a larger trunk opening, but stated no hatchback. This does not please me, but the Model Y crossover will likely have a hatch.
    On one of the test drive videos 3 roof options were assured, all Glass, Sliding Moon Roof and Steel middle section. People seem worried about heat and sun with the full glass. Not a problem in Sacramento’s 100+ degree days in my full Pano P85D.

    • Re: supercharging. Yes, supercharging hardware is included, but Tesla has told us (and other outlets) that decision on charging for its use is still undecided.

      • John Tamplin

        Personally, I hope they do charge – even with the relatively small population of Model S/X owners, you already see people that abuse the system. Superchargers were always intended as a way to enable long-distance travel, not for people to save a few bucks worth of electricity charging there just because it is free. My preference would be for some nominal fee, like a flat $5 per charge, that would be enough you wouldn’t care but enough so people wouldn’t charge just to get free electricity. That way you don’t need to add any UI on the Superchargers to show how long you have charged/how much you will be billed, just require that people have a credit card tied to their MyTesla account.

        • Joe

          We’re already off topic, but this is a great point. I’ve gone back and forth on this, but I do tend to agree that charging a fee for superchargers per use is a good idea. And actually, there is no need to put a UI on the supercharger stalls because they can communicate through the car; all information about charging and rates can be displayed inside the car with minimal additional investment by Tesla and minimal inconvenience to the driver.

          I sort of love this scenario: Your “MyTesla” account has a bank component like an iTunes account. You add funds to it whenever you want in increments of $10, which minimizes transaction fees for Tesla. When you need to use a supercharger, plug in and have maybe $0.25 per minute deducted from your MyTesla account. This means your total is likely to be $10 or less per use and users are discouraged from squatting for a full charge when they don’t really need it, especially once they hit 80% and charging slows dramatically.The result is that supercharging is still really inexpensive, but far, far less likely to be abused. Superchargers will usually be available when needed, and Tesla will generate enough revenue to maintain the stations in the long term and continue the build-out. AND, the initial price of the cars will be lower, because the ~$2000 that Tesla would otherwise charge for supercharger access will not be part of the car purchase price.

          • One can’t reasonably expect that with a fee for use of SC network that the full $2,000 could be discounted from the vehicle price. Part of that $2,000 is to fund the buildout of the SC network as well as pay for the electricity.

            One issue with introducing a fee is that it would create a division between S/X drivers and 3 drivers. Fees are off the table for S/X drivers, they were promised “free for life”.

          • Joe

            Do you think Model 3 drivers would complain that their $35k car doesn’t include “free for life” supercharging when the $80k Model X and $75k Model S do? If lifetime supercharging is viewed as a feature it seems like a reasonable separation between the company’s low- and high-end cars.

        • Matthew Johnson

          As an EV driver for over 2 years of my Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S drivers are generally the worst and most obnoxious abusers of EV charging parking spots. Many will park in an EV spot and not even charge their car.

          • John Tamplin

            YMMV, that isn’t what I see here. There are more LEAFs than anything else, and as you would expect there are more of them sitting in charging spots while not using it just based on larger numbers. In fact, the last two times I have used a CHAdeMO charger, there was a LEAF sitting in the spot not using it (one wasn’t even hooked up). Fortunately, the CHAdeMO cable isn’t locked to the car so I was able to park on the other side and just move the cable, but I was charged and gone before the LEAF owner even showed up.

  • “… the sedan form factor which results from that same glass roof”

    Actually this wording makes it seem as if Tesla wanted a glass roof and rear window in one piece and sacrificed the hatchback form factor for that. But if you followed Elon’s tweets, it is nothing like that. They wanted to get rid of the cross-beam at the rear end of the roof to give the back seat passengers more head room. So they moved it below the rear window and ended up with a sedan form factor.

    I see the single piece glass roof + rear window a a side benefit, a nice touch to ease the pain.

  • David Peilow

    About this sedan form factor being a problem for Europeans. Obviously not for the huge number of BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 buyers out there, the same audience Tesla is targeting with this car.

  • Rob Kay

    Crowdfunding a vehicle in such huge numbers whilst the car is still at prototype stage is a masterpiece of hype over reason. And it almost certainly guarantees the survival of the company. But there is many a slip between cup and lip, and producing the first 250,000 of these cars in an acceptable, finished and polished, form that meets all reasonable expectations, is going to be one of the toughest project management exercises ever undertaken in the motor industry. It’s an incredibly high risk strategy, but good luck to the team at Tesla, because though I am very happy with my 30 KwH Leaf, this car will raise the stakes for every other competitor to follow.

  • vdiv

    The nose is subjective, I like the nose and I like the front end of the Model X too. They look much better in real life without the fisheye lens effect of cameras. Not keen on the nose cone of the Model S. Just contrast it with the Volt’s and you will like it too 🙂

    The trunk is a bit of a disappointment, but as others have said there are (S/X) and will be (Y) alternatives if someone needs a bigger car/more space. In Tesla’s design parlance less is more.

    The glass roof is for the claustrophobics among us. Anyone who has sat in the back of a Volt or a US spec i3 knows what I mean. I would however trade the glass for an all-aluminium and lighter car.

    Supercharging should be included, period.

    Not finished yet?! Well, neither is the Model S with the specs options and appearance mutating over the past almost 4 years and arguably not always for the better (what’s up with that new rear applique, no more base wheels, no more RWD 90, weird roof mount tabs, IP power gauge and UI?)

  • KIMS

    Elon Musk already confirmed on twitter and other test ride videos also confirm, that the roof will come in 3 options, one of them (base?) being metal.

  • CDspeed

    I like the nose, I think it looks like a Porsche, yes I don’t care for the glass roof, but maybe it’ll be optional like the sunroof on the Model S. I don’t think we really know enough about the Model 3 yet.

  • Albemarle

    In the U.S., sedans are much more popular than hatchbacks. That might change in the future with their new love of CUVs and SUVs. I imagine that Tesla focussed on the sedan market because of its size, saving a hatchback version for the CUV. I believe hatchbacks are not as popular as sedans in China either.
    And, not all SUVs guzzle, while some hatchbacks do guzzle.

  • leptoquark

    I think the phased reveals, the obviously concept interior, the pending “front end revisions” all point to the fact that Musk was caught off guard by the Bolt. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s what happens in business. I do think, though, that GM is enjoying the pressure they’ve put on Tesla. Remember also that Musk has stated he wants as many EV’s on the road, from whatever source. The 300k+ deposits are definitely newsworthy, and are another way that Tesla reminds me of Apple. But, in spite of the superiority of the Mac, many, many people ended up with Windows computers. There is a definite niche for products that are almost as good as the best, but cheaper. Do you think people will buy many base trim optionless Model 3’s?

    The nose does look a bit empty and somewhat swinish, but I’m sure the final Model 3 will be more attractive once it finally arrives. Looks are entirely subjective. I’ll probably be coming off the lease of my next plug-in (so far I’ve had two Leafs) when the Model 3 finally arrives. I look forward to seeing what Tesla comes up with.

    • Joe

      I like this point about there being a large demographic specifically shopping for the second-best. And to add to that, there are a lot of people who would prefer to buy from GM or another old fashioned car maker simply because they’re more established and familiar. I live in Michigan where “foreign” cars (whatever that means now) are shunned and sometimes vandalized by people who grew up seeing competitors to the American car companies as a serious threat to their jobs and way of life. People around here eye my Model S with just as much suspicion as they used to eye my Prius. My point is that in some areas of the world where local car manufacturing is part of the tribe’s identity, Tesla may not hold much appeal, fair or not. I see several dozen Volts each week but only about once a month do I see an i3 or a LEAF. I expect to see a LOT more Bolts than Model 3s in Michigan.

  • Joe

    Regarding the glass roof, the prototypes use untinted glass, but you can assume that the production cars will have glass that’s about as dark as the Model S/X roof glass is today. Does this comfort any of you who don’t like the glass roof as it was shown last week?

    • For some that may be enough – for me, no. My family have a history of severe macular degeneration, so sunroofs, indeed sunshine is something I’m very wary of. Bright lights are uncomfortable enough to be painful – so glass roofs, though pretty, are pretty much a no.

      Now if I lived in the 1960s, and wearing a hat whilst driving was de rigueur then maybe it’d be more doable 🙂

  • Matt Beard

    1) Nose – initially I really liked it, but I see there are some better options. However, in the UK and other places it will need to fit a huge front numberplate
    2) Trunk – yes… I agree, and this really upset me at first, however seeing some shots from other angles make me wonder how bad it is. I really have to try it for real!
    3) Roof – yup, even though you can have a solid front I can imagine the rear being a pain at times, especially in bright sun.
    2&3) I suspect that there will be a Model Y that fixes both of these and will be announced before the 3 ships (though that might Osborne the 3!)
    4) Supercharging – I was worried that it wouldn’t even be an option. I really hope that if it is not free there will be a way to PAYG for those that rarely need it.
    5) Not Finished – Yes, I want it NOW!! But seriously they needed to get it out there as soon as they could and hopefully the number of reservations is making them, and investors, sit up and realise they need to drop lots of money and people on getting this out the door fast and in volume!

    • JonathanMaddox

      S3XY, you reckon?

  • Surya

    I don’t like the lack of a proper hatch
    I don’t care for the sunroof, but I don’t hate it
    I’m fine with the front end as it is
    I don’t need supercharging use to be free, just affordable (read: noticeably cheaper than gas)

  • CDspeed

    The roof, in a video a Tesla employee says the roof will come in metal, fixed glass, or a power sunroof.

  • Tint Depot

    Thanks for the #tesla #model3 input.