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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