Tesla Model 3 is no doubt the best selling battery electric vehicle in the United States in 2019, but Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf are also popular and inexpensive choices. So, which of the America’s favorite budget electric cars offer best value for money? Lets find out!
Tesla Model 3
The 2020 Tesla Model 3 comes in four variants. The Standard Range and Standard Range Plus are rear wheel drive vehicles powered by a single motor. The higher end variants Long Range and Performance houses dual motors with all wheel drive powertrain.
The 2020 Chevy bolt comes in two versions, LT and Premier, both are front wheel drive.
The new 2019 Nissan Leaf comes in six trims. The Leaf S, Leaf SV and Leaf SL comes with 40 kWh battery, and higher end versions Leaf S Plus, Leaf SV Plus and Leaf SL Plus comes with 62 kWh battery. All vehicles are single motor front wheel drive.
Market Share in U.S.
There is big gap between Tesla Model 3 sales and its rivals, even though Chevy Bolt ranked as third best selling and Nissan Leaf fifth best selling battery electric vehicle overall in 2019. The highest number of vehicles sold were 61,650 in fourth quarter of 2018 for Model 3. Chevy Bolt sold 8,995 in fourth quarter of 2017, its highest. Nissan Leaf sales peaked in third quarter of 2014 at 9,068.
EPA Driving Range
The Long Range variant of Model 3 offers the best driving range with 322 miles on a single charge, and Nissan Leaf S came last with only 150 miles battery range.
All Model 3 versions offer far superior peak horsepower in comparison to its rivals.
All Model 3 variants rank higher in terms of torque, the Performance version ranked first with 481 lb-ft or 652 N-m. Chevy Bolt is in the middle with 266 lb-ft, and in the end Nissan Leaf S with 236 lb-ft.
Again, Tesla remains the winner with as low as 3.2 seconds naught to sixty mph for its Performance version.
Considering exceptional specs of Model 3, it should be of no surprise that it wins in this category as well.
AC Charging Time (miles per hour)
Model 3 offers much faster 240v AC Level 2 charging with 44 miles of range per hour for its Long Range and Performance versions. Chevy Bolt gains 25 miles of range per hour and Nissan Leaf 20 miles per hour for its S Plus trim.
DC Fast Charging (miles per 15 min)
Model 3 offers by far the fastest charging with Tesla V3 superchargers. The Long Range and Performance versions gains 3 times more miles of range in 15 minutes than Nissan Leaf S Plus, and even more compared to Chevy Bolt. According to official figures by Nissan, the Leaf S Plus with its 62 kWh battery gains 180 miles of range from 100 kWh DC fast charger in 45 minutes, and Leaf S gains 120 miles in 40 minutes with support of up to 50 kWh DC charging. Chevy Bolt offers about 100 miles of range in around 30 minutes of charge time as per Chevrolet’s official specifications.
Tesla Model 3 is more roomier with 97 cubic feet of passenger volume.
The cheapest vehicle out of all is Nissan Leaf S with starting price of $29,990. Model 3 starts at $35,000 with its Standard Range version and Chevy Bolt base price is $36,620.
Price Per Mile of Range
As we are comparing electric vehicles that are meant to be affordable day to day use cars, and since battery is the most expensive component in BEVs, its logical to make this comparison. Dividing the price of vehicle by its battery range gives us cost per mile of range. Chevy Bolt LT and Model 3 Long Range offer best value for money in terms of driving range with $141 and $152 price per mile respectively.
Tesla Model 3
Except Standard Range, all variants comes standard with Autopilot, an advanced driver-assistance system feature that has lane centering, adaptive cruise control, self-parking, auto lane changing and autonomous steering on highways, and the ability to summon the car to and from a garage or parking spot.
Only the top trim SL Plus comes with ProPILOT Assist which is far limiting driver-assistance system as compared to Tesla. It does not have the ability to change lanes, also the system will automatically deactivate when the speed goes below 31 mph and it can’t detect any vehicles in-front. Its adaptive cruise control is good for following traffic including stops, but it will deactivate if car stops for more than 4 seconds.
There is no autonomous assistance system available in this vehicle, it doesn’t even have an adaptive cruise control.