Model 3 vs Model S

Troy

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#1
I started this list on Reddit here, but I decided to move it to this forum because, in my opinion, Reddit isn't very suitable for long-term topics. It is more suitable for the latest news. I kept updating it there but I don't think many people saw it.

Model 3's Advantages:

  • The Model 3 LRD has more range than the Model S 100D. Check out the numbers here.
  • The Model 3 is 25% more efficient than the Model S which means you will pay 25% less to charge at home.
  • The Model 3 LRD has 78.3 kWh usable battery capacity (source: page 6 footer) vs 72.6 kWh in the Model S 75 (source) and 77.5 kWh in the Model S 85 (source). That means the Model S/X battery capacities are over advertised but the Model 3 capacity is under advertised.
  • The Model 3 battery degradation will be 25% slower than the Model S because it requires fewer charge cycles to achieve the same mileage. If you look at the graph here, you can see that the S and X are already pretty good but the 3 will be better.
  • The Model 3 uses the newer battery technology. The 2170 cells in the Model 3 have 18.5% higher energy density than the 18650 cells in the latest Model S based on EPA documents. S/X will probably switch to the 2170 cells in the future. That means if you buy an S/X it is likely that it will become the old technology soon. When the S/X switch to 2170 cells, this should increase the range, reduce weight and improve handling. See the calculation and data sources here. Also, listen to Elon here.
  • The Model 3 has the newer motor technology. These motors are lighter and have better track performance and Autobahn performance. They reduce weight and improve handling. The permanent magnet motors don't go into limp mode as quickly as the current Model S/X AC induction motors. The Porsche Mission E has permanent magnet motors for better track performance. The Bolt and Model 3 have permanent magnet motors for high efficiency. Unlike common assumptions, these motors are not the less capable economy option. They are superior in every metric. For more info see page 15 here, and this and this research. They were more expensive until recently but the prices have come down. Check out paragraph 10 that starts with "Alternatively, in terms of ..." here. The Model S does not have permanent magnet motors because they were expensive and difficult to source at high volume until recently because of rare earth materials but Tesla has made a deal with a Chinese supplier (source).
  • The Model 3 has a driver-facing camera. This might enable facial recognition related features for driverless Autopilot or it might be used for monitoring the cabin against vandalism under the Tesla Network. There is a video about it here.
  • Better handling because of less weight. Model S 75 and the Model 3 SR have similar range and both are RWD. Therefore comparing these two makes sense. Model S 75 curb weight is 4469 lbs (source). Model 3 SR curb weight is 3549 lbs (source). The difference is 920 lbs (417 kg). The Model S 100D and the Model 3 LRD are also comparable in range. Model S 100D's curb weight is 4736 lbs (source). Model 3 LRD's curb weight is expected to be around 3895 lbs. The difference would be 841 lbs (381 kg).
  • The Model 3 center console has more storage space and charger docks for two smartphones (Source: See video here)
  • The Model 3 has door pockets, coat hooks, lighted vanity mirrors and adjustable front seat belt anchor points. The Model S does not.
  • The Model 3 has a folding rear seat armrest with cup holders. Photo
  • The touchscreen is more responsive (see the video here) thanks to the new infotainment computer that has a liquid cooled and faster processor. Even the latest Model S doesn't have this yet. To clarify, both the Model 3 and the latest Model S have liquid cooled AP2.5 computers with dual graphics cars. The Autopilot computers are the same but the infotainment computers are different. They have different processors. The Model S/X still use the Tegra 1 mobile processor from 2011. Quote: "On one side, there’s the infotainment Electronic Control Unit (ECU) or MCU now powered by the Intel Gordon Peak BMP and Intel Apollo Lake system-on-chip instead of Nvidia’s Tegra chip in Model S and Model X." Source.
  • The Model 3 insurance will cost less than the Model S.
  • Price: The Model 3 costs a lot less than the Model S. Many people are comparing the wrong cars. The Model 3 LR is not comparable to the Model S 75D. These cars are comparable: [Model S 75 vs Model 3 SR], [Model S 75D vs Model 3 SRD], [Model S 100D vs Model 3 LRD]. The Model S 100D starts at $97,300 before options. The Model 3 LRD is expected to start at 35+9+4.5+2= $50,500 assuming $4,500 for dual motors and $2,000 for air suspension. EAP and PUP are not included in either price. The Model S 100D is 93% more expensive than the Model 3 LRD.
  • The Model 3 front armrest has storage space. Model S does not. Also, the front cup holders are better positioned in the Model 3. They are difficult to use in the Model S.
  • The Model 3 will support up to 184 kW Supercharging when Tesla upgrades the Superchargers. The Model S can only support up to 120 kW. Even the latest Model S doesn't support 184 kW yet. More info here.
  • The Model 3 production line is more automated. Listen here to Elon confirming this. That means fewer parts are hand assembled compared to the Model S which means fewer manufacturing errors. See the video here and thread here.
  • The Model S is not more premium than the Model 3 because there is no difference between the Model S and Model 3 gross margins. Check out the second bullet point on top of the shareholder letter here. Even though the Model S prices are high, Tesla doesn't have higher gross margins on the Model S because half of the car is hand-assembled but the Model 3 production line is a lot more automated. The Model S is expensive because Tesla uses 7 times the number of employees as other car makers to build the S/X (source).
  • The Model 3 has 1.5" more headroom in the front and 2.4" more in the rear seats than the Model S. Model 3: Front= 40.3”, Rear = 37.7”(source), Model S: Front= 38.8", Rear= 35.3" (source)
  • The Model 3 has practically the same legroom as the Model S: Model 3 Leg room: 42.7” Front, 35.2” Rear (source) Model S Leg room: 42.7" Front, 35.4" Rear (source)
  • The Model 3 is only 1.2 inches (3 cm) narrower: Model 3 width: 76.1” with mirrors folded (source) Model S width: 77.3” with mirrors folded (source)
  • Only the pano sunroof version of the Model S supports a roof rack. The all-glass version does not. However, all Model 3 roof versions (all glass or metal) are expected to support a roof rack. Check out this and this video.
  • The Model 3 air vents are digitally controlled. That means when FSD is enabled and a family member summons the car for a driverless ride, air vents will work the way the passenger wants. Each passenger won't have to adjust physical settings.
  • Model 3 steering wheel has scroll buttons that with extra functions.
  • Better audio quality with the Model 3 with PUP compared to the Model S with PUP has been reported by many people who have compared the two. Check out this video.
  • The headlights are better. They distribute the light evenly and provide a clearer view. Check out the photos here.
Model S' advantages:
  • The Model S has more cargo capacity: 30 cubic feet instead of 15.
  • The battery failure and drive unit warranty is different. You get 8 years or 120,000 miles (whichever comes first) with the Model 3 LR, compared to 8 years and unlimited miles for the Model S. The warranty extension for the Model 3 will probably increase the mileage from 120K to 240K. Details have not been released yet. Practically, this doesn't make much difference because the overall warranty on both cars is 4 years or 50,000. Therefore most Model S owners who keep the car longer than 4 years already buy the warranty extension.
  • Model S steering wheel is thicker, more comfortable and attractive.
  • Model S has a heated steering wheel.
  • Free unlimited Supercharging for the duration of your ownership if you buy a Model S until 30 Apr 2018 using a referral code. More details here. Free Supercharging does not stay with the owner or with the car anymore. On the same page under the 'Limits' title, it says the following: "Free unlimited Supercharging will only apply to the original vehicle owner and only for the duration of original vehicle ownership." Tesla changed this more than a year ago. More details here.
  • The Model S has optional third-row seats for kids.
  • Bioweapon Defense Mode.
  • Better backup camera than the Model 3 which seems to have a fisheye view. See the video here.
  • Availability: In most cases, you can take delivery of a new Model S sooner than a new Model 3. The only exception to this is existing Tesla owners who don't mind an RWD car.
  • The frunk is larger.
  • Model S has a power liftgate.
  • Autopilot following distance can be set using the cruise control lever instead of the touchscreen.
  • Model S has less road noise. The reason is unclear. If this is related to what Elon mentioned here, the Model 3 could have the same thing.
Less clear differences:
  • There is no difference in road noise between the S and the 3. Details here.
  • Horizontal 15" screen in the Model 3 vs vertical 17" screen in the Model S. It is unclear which one is better.
  • Model S door handles extend but they also break down frequently and cost $850 each to replace out of warranty.
  • The Model S has a keyfob and smartphone app entry which requires a mobile signal. The Model 3 has touchless Bluetooth smartphone entry and a hotel keycard. It is unclear which option is better.
  • The Model S has aluminum body panels instead of steal. These are better against corrosion but they are expensive to repair.
  • The Model S has an instrument cluster but the Model 3 has better visibility because it doesn't have it.

Notes:
  • Somebody made the excellent video here which is mostly based on my list and data sources. He saw the list I posted on Reddit.
  • Check out the video here about whether it makes sense to buy an S.
  • Tesla will most likely update the Model S in 2018. See my message here for details.
 
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teslaliving

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#5
Great post. One plus on the S is a bunch of the things are curently proven (drive units, batteries, etc). Hopefully that doesnt mean the 3 will have issues but they're at least known and have been out for a while.

Also, the S software is pretty complete (well, at least more so than the 3). The 3 is still pretty incomplete in some areas.

Much more detailed than my line of thinking but overall, its the reason I'm holding out for a 3 with AWD vs getting a newer S.
 

ariaga

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#6
Some Model S advantages not mentioned:
* Hatchback instead of trunk
* Faster acceleration in most cases
 

RadDoc

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#7
Other Model S advantages:
  • More comfortable back seat. The rear bench in the Model 3 is very low--the gap between the seat and the bottom of your thigh is much greater in the 3 vs the S, which makes it very uncomfortable.
  • Ludicrous mode
  • Air suspension (might be available next year in the 3, but Tesla/Elon time...)
  • Ability to display rear camera and something else simultaneously on center display
  • MS looks good from every angle, while the 3 looks odd from certain angles given skinnier appearance, high rear hatch and somewhat odd proportions
  • Stock 21" rims (you can put any size aftermarket rims on any car, but just stating what is stock and servicable by the service center)
 

kort677

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#9
re: free supercharging
some of us model 3 owners have free supercharging for life because we either bought a performance model before 9/16 and/or because of a referral, in my case I did both, I ordered and received delivery before 9/15 and I referred myself which tesla accepted. I do not know what the current policies are.
 

systemBuilder

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#10
  • The Model 3 has a parallel battery cooling system. Each tube for glycerine and water runs the length of the battery pack and exits on the other side of the pack. This produces more powerful and more uniform cooling. The Model S has a single cooling loop, it snakes back and forth from one end of the pack to the other, and back, several times, so when it exits the coolant is very very hot. Therefore, the model S easily overheats in track or other heavy-duty application. The model 3 battery pack lasts much longer before it overheats.
  • The Model 3 is the #2 best eMpg car on earth (126 empg, rwd). The #1 car is the Hyundai Kona (136 empg).
  • Both the Model 3 and the Model S have perfect NHTSA crash safety tests, but Model 3 had the lowest probability of passenger injury (6%), ever.
  • The Model 3 has no AM radio. Some Model S cars (no sunroof) have an AM radio, but reception was often bad because the electric motors produce some interference.
  • The Model 3 has no option for XM radio.
  • The Model 3 has a slanted dock/charging solution to secure your phone while you drive. My P3D+ drives like a jet fighter on mountain roads and my phone flies all over the car if I don't nail it down.
 
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garsh

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#11
Both the Model 3 and the Model S have perfect NHTSA crash safety tests, but Model 3 had the lowest probability of passenger injury (6%), ever.
As Elon points out:

Most of these tests involve the car hitting something stationary. That's using the car's own weight against itself. A heavier car will get worse results in these kinds of tests. But in the real world, when that heavy car hits a lighter car, the heavier car is going to fair much better.
 
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MelindaV

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#12
The Model 3 has no AM radio. Some Model S cars (no sunroof) have an AM radio, but reception was often bad because the electric motors produce some interference.
the Model S sunroof was required for XM... I believe no matter the roof, you got AM (not sure if that is still the case, or if the AM has since been removed from the S too).
 

Jay Jay

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#13
Awesome list! Thank you for this.

I will add: the point about the fisheye backup camera on the M3 is a non-issue now isn't it? I believe they fixed it with a software update?
 

bzainthemd

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#14
Wow, that is quite the comparison. For me, I got a Model 3 because it is not as long as the Model S and I already have an MX, thus I would have had to take down things in my garage to make a MS work. The M3 fits perfectly....