When the Model 3 launched, I stood in line and put down my deposit with hundreds of thousands of others. I already had a 2014 Model S85 that I loved, but I was looking to upgrade my car to get all-wheel drive and autopilot. The Model 3 offered the promise of most of what I loved about my S, but with a lower cost and that led me to put down the deposit before everything about the Model 3 was known.
As time passed waiting for the Model 3, I asked if there was enough differentiation between the Model 3 and Model S. Would people still buy the Model S after the 3 was released? Turns out the answer is a resounding Yes, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time.
I then spent some time comparing the features of the yet-to-be-released Model 3 with that of my existing S85 to see what the change would be like and as I tried to talk myself into the Model 3 from my Model S.
After 4.5 years, 102,000 miles on my S85, I finally got the invite to configure the Model 3. The particular flavor of the Model 3 I would have wanted was not yet available. Only the RWD long range was
As we finally found out what the Model 3 was, what the options were, and what it cost, it led to me thinking a lot more about what I really wanted in my next car.
I loved my Model S, and wouldn’t have considered parting with it except for missing AWD and Autopilot (AP). While my car did great in the snow with great winter tires, I still wanted the extra security of AWD. I also drive a lot, and much of that in heavy Boston area traffic and on highways. Autopilot is ideal for those conditions.
The Model 3 offered the option to get AWD and AP while not having to spend another $100K on a Tesla, but as I saw in my comparisons before, it came with some disadvantages for me.
My wife and I spent a lot of time talking about the choice and it came down to a few things for me:
- Interior color – I won’t buy a car with a black interior and am not a fan of white. People seem to love the white, but it’s not my taste. Those are the only 2 options on the Model 3.
- I don’t like glossy black surfaces inside the car, they collect dust and fingerprints and Tesla, yet again, chose to go with a lot of gloss in the 3.
- Giving up 50% of my cargo space to go to a 3 was a major deal breaker. My wife solidified that when she pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to visit my parents in my any more if I had a 3 as the family and luggage wouldn’t fit for that trip. (ironically my new S has been in the service center for 2 weeks so we ended up taking an ICE to my parents anyway…)
- While I’d get used to the center screen on the 3 and the overall looks and feel, the style is quite polarizing and I prefer the looks/aesthetics of the S.
The parts that had me stuck on the 3 came down to just a couple major items:
- Range – Range is king and the 3 has more range than the most affordable S (which is still a lot more money than the 3)
- Price – the Model 3 would have been almost $30K cheaper
I also compared the prices (pricing for Tesla is a bit of a moving target but these were directionally correct at the time):
The incentives for the 3 were hopeful, as the actual Model I wanted (AWD non-performance) wasn’t yet available so that could have forced me into the performance 3 which would have changed the numbers more.
And then I looked at the features:
While the 3 is an amazing car with a lot of great features and benefits, going through the process reinforced what I had really wanted — I really just wanted my S with AWD and AP. There were other benefits of getting a newer S which were nice, but I also didn’t want to give up on any of the things I already had on my S.
Had I been coming from another car and hadn’t experienced the S, then it may have been a different decision. Also, the 4.5 years of driving the S had me very comfortable with the range of the S75D which is just slightly (6 miles) less than my S85 when it was new and the extra range of the 3 wouldn’t make a difference to any of the driving that I do.
After much deliberation, we decided to transfer the deposit on the 3 to a new S and ordered a new S75D. More on that configuration and how I sold my S in a future post.
Peggy Lawing said:
Congratulations!!! Great decision I think. LOVE my S
DAVID A BRYANT said:
Congratulations! I look forward to hearing about the configuration you chose.
I was in a similar dilemma, but in my case it was between buying out the lease on my 2015 Model S 70D and the Model 3. In my case, the prices were closer, although I did also consider trying to buy a new Model S or a CPO car. Long story short, I gave up on the idea of a new S (especially after they killed the sunroof and cream interior options) and the CPO supply simply did not have the configurations I would want, not to mention the recent unpleasant experiences of so many people with the CPO process. The Model 3 just never jelled for me. I am glad it has gotten such good reviews, it does drive very well (I had two short test drives), and it is much more efficient (energy use/mile) than Model S. But I saw several advantages of my S over a new 3. So, I bought out my leased Model S.
My arguments were somewhat similar to yours. In addition, I knew my car, it had been very reliable, had the colors and features I wanted, and was more spacious than a Model 3.
It sounds as if you may have ordered before some of the latest changes in pricing and available configurations, so i will be interested to see what you ordered vs. what is still available.
Thanks, more details coming soon but I essentially got the same car I had. Grey (today’s flavor) and Cream (vs Tan) interior, the light wood (vs darker wood from before) but its as close a match to what I had before as possible. But with AP and AWD 🙂
Looking forward to your next post, particularly on the selling aspect!
RE: Family Trips, can you elaborate (or will you in the next post) on what range is needed or how many passengers travel that the M3 couldn’t handle that the MS does? Or was this explicitly referencing the loss of cargo space.
Cargo space alone
Jeff Short said:
Thank you for your blog over that last few years. You insights as an early Tesla owner helped convince me that driving electric was indeed possible and that there was a car company that got it right.
I recently went through a similar decision process on whether to replace my 2013 S85. My main goal was to get AP and longer range. A 100D was going to be at least $106K, vs $65K for an AWD 3 with AP/FSD. After much hand-wringing and several visits to two of the Tesla Galleries near me, I decided to go with the Model 3 AWD with AP/FSD. My main concerns were the lack of an instrument cluster, no auto-presenting door handles, no key fob, and reduced cargo space.
After about 4 weeks of driving the 3, I can say that I prefer driving it instead of the S. Given the choice between the two, I almost always opt for the 3. It is a much sportier ride and feels like it has more “zip”, which makes it more fun to drive. The S with air suspension has a much smoother ride and is arguably a better choice for road trips. I will admit that if I had a 100D with AP and newer seats sitting next to the 3 that it would be a more even choice. It was hard to justify a $41K price difference.
I find that I don’t really miss the instrument cluster. I really like using AP and am now at the point where I activate it whenever I can. I miss the auto-presenting door handles, the power lift gate, and a key fob that just works. They got a lot right with the 3, but the phone key and bluetooth key fob are not on that list. The camera-based rain sensing wipers are also a huge miss, but at least there is a chance it will be improved with future software updates.
I ended up getting the FSD option as well. Did you get FSD? If so, I am interested in your reasoning behind getting it in a future post.
Glad to hear the 3 is working out for you. It was a very tough call. I’ve heard many on the keycard issues for the 3 and evidently even the add-on fob doesn’t help that. I use AP all the time too but drive a lot. I got my new car in August and have >10K miles on it (and didnt drive it for 2 weeks of service and 1 week of vacation..)
The newer S’s are very comfortable compared to the 2014/2013 era cars.
I did get FSD which was a real gamble as there are people that paid for it years ago and have never seen any return on that at all (and even have now been told their HW cant support it). More on that later 🙂
Richard Nault said:
My name is Richard and I am from Quebec, QC, Canada.
I am impressed by the quality of your web pages, comments and especially the quality of your Python code on Github.
I am trying to help my friend Pierre who owns a Tesla Model 3 since last autumn.
Pierre is an automobile mechanical engineer while I am a software engineer.
Pierre, following his experience and others in cold climate, is trying to minimize the battery and cooling/heating system heat losses. Doing so, he has put insulation over the accessible hoses and to the battery underside.
Here in Quebec, we get -20C/-4F temperature on a regular basis, especially this winter.
Last weekend, he went to Circuit Mecaglisse for a test drive day on ice with professional drivers.
It was a very cold day, -27C/-17F in the morning!
He was able to notice the effect of is tinkering as he was the only Tesla Model 3
that didn’t display the snow flake icon on the console.
Some of the Tesla had to call it a day right after lunch because of the low battery.
Pierre was able to stay the whole day and come back home, 45 miles away.
Pierre would like to monitor the battery temperature in real time.
He is planning a road trip down t Florida this March and he thinks the insulation
will have a positive effect even under higher temperature.
On one of your page, you mention a set of “unofficial API”.
Do you have any suggestion to give in order to display the batteries temperature in real time?
Thank you for sharing informations and the quality of your posts.
Richard and Pierre