Tesla is not a car company anymore, and they design and manufacture products for the energy and transportation ecosystem. The 2021 impact report proudly presents this ecosystem comprising Solar PV, Powerwall storage, Vehicles, AI and other software.
These expansions and diversification, of course, come at a cost. We believe Tesla has gotten so distracted, and it has started to lag in many areas. This blog is an attempt to capture some of these.
Tesla owners, including myself, are generally content with the charging capabilities of our vehicles. At a V3 supercharger, my Model Y LR does extremely well, even charging at 250 kW at 10% state-of-charge. However, one cannot change the laws of physics. At ultra-rapid speeds (>150kW), a higher current is required to support the rate at 400volts, and a higher current would require a much thicker cable and liquid cooling. Most ultra-rapid chargers opt for high voltage (>900volt) and a lower current to work around this limitation.
Below is an example from an MFG EV Power charger.
All 400volt based EVs such as Tesla are limited to a paltry 100kW at these chargers. In contrast, many EVs from Hyundai/Kia and Porsche can receive the full 150kW rate from these chargers thanks to 800volt power electronics. Tesla has gradually increased the voltage with the recent Model S plaid models supporting 500volt based charging. As the below analysis suggests, Telsa could theoretically upgrade a V3 supercharger to support 800 and even 1000 volts in the future which is good news.
Regen Power & Efficiency
The regen or the recuperation power of a current Tesla LR vehicle maxes at around 85kW. From personal observation, I generally find this value oscillating between 30 to 50kW depending on the speed and inclination.
A cheaper BMW iX1, in contrast, has a maximum regen power of 140kW.
Kia EV6 GT has an even higher regen power of 360kW.
A future software update could help Tesla improve the regen performance, but it appears like a weak spot.
Motor and Power Electronics Efficiency
The Tesla Model S Plaid drive unit was unveiled in June 2021 as a highly efficient integrated unit comprising an electric motor, inverter, and single-speed transmission.
Model 3 and Y continue to use the previous generation bulky drive units. Nowadays, many OEM vendors, including Bosch, Vitesco, and GKN, offer compact and efficient integrated drive units, which we can find in typical EVs such as Niro EV and Hyundai Kona.
Tesla could use a low power version of the Plaid integrated drive unit in a Model 3 and Y to improve efficiency further.
Increasingly, solar PV installers in the UK recommend GivEnergy batteries over Powerwall.
While availability is a major concern, GivEnergy has unique advantages, such as LFP battery chemistry (instead of NMC) and much higher operating temperature.
While the Powerwall+ has better specifications, it is generally considered a rare breed unlikely to become available on this side of the pond.
The Tesla Gen 3 wall connector would soon become non-compliant and illegal for use in the UK, thanks to Smart Charge Points Regulation. EV chargers such as Myenergi Zappi and even the upcoming GivEnergy charger are filling this gap by becoming a compulsory part of any Solar PV installation in the country.
These chargers also come with several protections, such as Type B RCD and Ground Protection, lacking in a Tesla Gen 3 Wall Connector.
This long blog is only the tip of the iceberg. When we include other services such as Autopilot and Superchargers, the list of areas where Tesla has started lagging appears monumental. When competition leads to better products and experiences, people benefit the most, so all these are not bad news.