Car News

Base 150 km Tesla Model 3 Battery is Not Offering OTA Upgrades

Earlier this week, Tesla rolled out a new special Model 3 for Canadian buyers. A super-short range Model 3 Standard Range that could squeeze in under the $45,000 price cap for the iZEV federal incentive. But if you were hoping to pick up one of those cheap Model 3s and use some of your incentive cash to upgrade the range, you might be in for a surprise.

When the Standard Range Model 3 arrived a few months back, it was the long-awaited "US$35,000 Model 3." Though with the Canadian dollar as it is, the car was $47,600 here. It came with a 354 km electric range. There was also the more expensive Standard Range Plus, which added 32 km of range (along with some interior goodies) for $2,700 more. Buyers of the 354 km range Model 3 could upgrade their cars to 386 km range via a WiFi software update over the air (OTA) later on, for a few thousand dollars.

Because the battery was software locked, not a different battery pack internally, no trip to a retailer or service facility was needed.

Tesla has done a similar thing before, allowing buyers of the Model S 40 kWh to spend US $10,000 to upgrade, over the air, to 60 kWh. It just told the computer to allow more battery capacity to be used.

So if you buy the 150 km $45,000 Model 3, you can pay a few grand and get 354 km, many presumed. Or even 386 km. Right?

Not this time, says Tesla. The cheapest car here is 150 km only. No upgrades. And, the former $47,600 354 km model is gone. 

That 150 km range makes it the second-shortest range car on the iZEV-approved list, as well as being tied for the most expensive. The only car with a shorter range is the soon to be discontinued Smart EQ ForTwo ED. The rest offer around 200km as a minimum.

So what's the point of a super-short range Model 3? Well, the iZEV program says that if the base price is under $45k, you can still get the nicer trims, as long as they start under $55,000. And the Model 3 Standard Range Plus with its unlocked 386 km range comes in at $53,700. So it can now qualify for the program. And that's the one that more buyers are likely to want anyway.

Especially with up to $13,000 in stacked rebates in the province of Quebec, and up to $16,000 in BC, if combined with both provincial and federal rebates, plus its ScrapIt cash-for-clunkers incentive. 

Another thing to note is that Tesla has a long history of sudden and massive changes to their vehicles, and pricing structure. So while the 150 km car might not be upgradeable now, that doesn't mean it won't be at some point in the future. And government rebates have shifted as well, especially after election time.