It’s official. The Tesla Model 3, a four-door sedan first unveiled in 2016, is now the most efficient electric car being sold. Although until recently the Hyundai Ioniq Electric held that title, new EPA estimates have certified the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range-Plus as the electric king of the road.
Although efficiency isn’t often as focused on as electric range or power, the EPA employs a rating called miles per gallon equivalent to determine how efficient electric cars and plug-in hybrids are, since they don't consume fossil fuels at all or as much in a plug-in's case. The miles per gallon equivalent is the distance a car can cover electrically on the amount of energy found in one gallon of gasoline.
For a few years, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric was the market leader with an EPA-estimated mpge rating of 136 mpge combined. Hyundai, however, has incorporated a larger battery in the model for 2020, which increases the range to 170 miles — up from 124 miles. Yet the efficiency has dropped to 133 mpge combined since the new motors also increment power from 118 to 134 horsepower.
As a result, the 2020 Model 3 will now take top billing. According to the EPA website, the Model 3 will deliver 141 mpge combined, beating not only the new but also the former Hyundai Ioniq Electric. In other words, the Tesla Model 3 will travel approximately 141 miles on the amount of energy a gallon of gasoline, which is impressive considering most sedans go only a few dozen miles per gallon.
Despite its efficiency, the Model 3 Standard Range Plus is still nearly $10,000 more expensive than the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which starts at $31,245 for the 2019 model year. The 2020 model will include the battery upgrade and new motors and also feature new equipment, which will likely add to the price tag, yet the vehicle is still eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit. Tesla's tax credits, on the other hand, are almost gone. Still, in February 2019, the Model 3 surpassed the Chevrolet Volt to become the all-time best-selling plug-in electric car in the U.S.