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Tesla walking back some language around the Model 3’s features: Safety, Autopilot and Supercharger [updated]

model 3 unveil 1

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Model 3 last week and went through a few of the car’s features, it would have been difficult to find an EV enthusiast disappointed by the event. But now a week later, the automaker has been altering the language around the Model 3’s features and it has raised a few eyebrows.

Tesla changed the wording around the Model 3’s safety rating, Autopilot and Supercharging capabilities, which are arguably Tesla’s three best-selling points.

We gathered the excerpts of the exact phrasing Elon Musk used for these three features during the Model 3 event:


“The Model 3 will not only be 5-star on average, it will be 5-star in every category.”


“All Model 3’s will come standard with Autopilot hardware. All Autopilot safety features will be present in every car. You will not need to buy an option. The safety features will always be there.”


“With respect to Supercharging, all Model 3 will come with Supercharging standard.”

After the event, Tesla quickly launched a Model 3 page on its website and it reflected very well what Musk said during his presentation.

Here’s how Tesla listed the Model 3 features on its website on April 1st, right after the Model 3 unveil event:

model 3 features april 1st

And now here’s how Tesla lists the Model 3 features on its website today (April 8):model 3 features april 8

As you can see, they changed the wording of the three features on the second row.

Tesla removed the claim of 5-star in all categories. The automaker achieved such a rating in the Model S and although the Model X’s official safety rating has yet to be released, the company feels confident that it will also achieve 5-star in all categories and a probability of injury around 6.5% in a high-speed accident.

It’s not clear why Tesla removed the claim from the Model 3 page, but we are still ~18 months away from the release of the vehicle and the actual safety rating, so it’s not too surprising that the company pulled the speculative language.

Update: After publishing this article, Tesla changed the wording of the safety mention again, now to: “5-star Safety Rating” – implying not 5-Star in all categories?/

The change in the choice of words for the Autopilot feature is interesting. Musk made it clear during the event that the safety features, like auto emergency braking, will be standard. Now Tesla changed it this week to “Autopilot Hardware”. I wouldn’t worry too much about it considering Tesla participated in the recent industry wide pledge to make auto emergency braking standard in all vehicles. Perhaps autopilot could be seen as a safety measure and Tesla doesn’t want to be held to that language.

Also noteworthy, the lack of instrument cluster in the Model 3 prototypes hinted at the possibility of either a heads-up display or fully autonomous technology integration. Otherwise, a lack of instrument wouldn’t be viable:

[tweet align=’center’]

We will have to wait for “part 2”, which is planned for closer to production in late-2017, but Tesla’s next gen Autopilot hardware is expected to allow fully autonomous driving and could explain the minimalist interior of the Model 3.

Finally the Supercharging feature. When the feature first appeared on the website, the mention of “long distance travel” pointed to the exact same setup as the Model S and X. The access to Tesla’s network of Superchargers is standard for all Tesla vehicles, but for long distance travel only – meaning that it is frowned upon for a Model S owner to regularly charge at a local Supercharger.

Now Tesla changed it to “Supercharger capable”, meaning that the Model 3 will be able to take DC fast-charging, but it doesn’t mean that it will have “free” access to Superchargers. In comparison, DC fast-charging capacity is optional on the Chevy Bolt regardless of any access to a charging network.

From these movements it seems clear that Tesla is signaling that Supercharging will be an optional, paid feature but we’ll wait to hear that directly from the company. A Tesla spokesperson is on the record saying:

All Model 3 will have the capability for Supercharging. We haven’t specified (and aren’t right now) whether supercharging will be free.

As a price comparison, original Model S lower end models require a $2500 upgrade to enable supercharging.

Update: After publishing this article, Tesla changed the wording around the Supercharger again, now to simply “Supercharging” without the “capable”./

It is likely another feature that will make more sense during “part 2” of the Model 3 unveiling.

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  1. QC - 7 years ago

    When it comes to supercharging I think we all should feel comfortable chipping into building a global supercharger network. As the hardware comes standard person can pay the ~1500$ at any point during the ownership or via part-payments over long term.

  2. darthbelichick07 - 7 years ago

    Not surprising on all three counts, at least for me.

    – Simple math says there’s no way 300K+ cars can get free, unlimited use of a limited charging network.

    – 5-star safety was a walkback by their lawyers. They still believe it, but can’t publicly claim it this far in advance.

    – “Autopilot hardware” was how I interpreted Musk’s statement originally. And having “autopilot safety” features likely means some form of collision avoidance (perhaps standard). But, I’m pretty confident that whatever form of “advanced autopilot” they’ll be shipping with the Model 3 will be sold as an option and the car will be software upgrade-able.

  3. Dan - 7 years ago

    About the safety.. The NHTSA is revising crash tests and adding a new “oblique” impact test where a truck shaped battering ram hits 30% of the the car from an angle.. The passenger seat is vulnerable in this test due to the direction of the seatbelt.. Maybe they need to see how the new test works before making that claim. They also will be testing headlight effectiveness and glare to other drivers as well as pedestrian hit ratings.. I think model year 2019 is subject to the new tests.

  4. Far Left Texas - 7 years ago

    Cannot understand the pushback against pay-per-use charging. I’d never want to pay $1,500-2,000 upfront for unlimited free charging, but 2-3 times a year I might want to travel. I currently put $30-40 on my credit card to fill my tank with gas, so why would anybody balk at paying $10-20 to fill up their battery with electricity?

    • Anon - 7 years ago

      The pay per use model doesn’t work very well. Everyone would hit the superchargers 2 or 3 times a year at exactly the same time (Christmas etc.). You can’t build a network that handles the christmas peak with just 20 bucks per charge. And charging a lot for regular/daily charging when there is no peak is not fair, because that kind of charging is not actually that expensive for Tesla once the chargers are built to satisfy christmas demand.

      You need a lot of money to make the peak charging days pleasant. Like the current 2500 bucks up-front, or some form of dynamic pricing (like charging in christmas holidays is $150 per charge, and 5$ on most other days).

      • Anon - 7 years ago

        Heck, I currently drive a Leaf and have used the quick charge station only once in 4.5 years with range anxiety producing 24kw batteries! Therefore, I would not pay up front unless I didn’t have a home charger or maybe was an Uber driver.

  5. MIch Fin - 7 years ago

    When your orders go through the roof you find ways of raising the price. That and they may not be able to claim 5 star rating until after they get rated.

  6. Flood - 7 years ago

    There are very good points raised in the comments.

    But it is a bit distressing that Tesla would be promoting their product with the lure of killer features only to throttle some of them down after potential customers took the bait.

    Understood that we’re just at the pre-unvailing of the Model 3 and things may change. However it’s a reasonable assumption that future changes would be in the value-added direction, not the other way around.

    In my opinion, that their product would, say, be delivered with significant delays is one thing, and possibly even understandable.

    That what gets delivered is less than what was advertised in another.

    We all know how easy it is to lose the trust in someone and how hard it is to regain it.

    Even more so in a company, no matter how lifesaving the vision for the future of mankind.

    – Flood

  7. Kharan - 7 years ago

    My “thank you for your reservation” mail that arrived today states: Like every Tesla, Model 3 is engineered to combine range, performance, utility and designed to be the safest car in its class. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds, and can travel 215 miles on a single charge. Starting at $35,000, Model 3 comes standard with Autopilot hardware and Supercharging capability.

    • gayweho - 7 years ago

      Right, the “capability” of adding the paid supercharging hardware later or with a higher priced model?

  8. - (@outforbeer) - 7 years ago

    I think its unlikely for supercharger to be free. 1 milion model 3 is too much for the network to handle imho compared to the 100k model s/x
    I like an option like 1 month supercharger enabled for time of the year when I travel long distance

  9. Jonesy - 7 years ago

    I think “walking back” is a little strong. The Model S got things like Auto Emergency Braking for free, but you have had to pay for Autopilot software. And… on the smaller battery-size models, you had to pay $2000 for Supercharging. It was bundled if you got the larger battery sizes.

    • Jonesy - 7 years ago

      It’s pretty obvious the base Model 3 won’t have it included, but the higher-optioned models will include it. i.e. the Model 3 is getting exactly the same treatment as the Model S… no surprises.

  10. WalksOnDirt - 7 years ago

    I never expected Supercharging to be included in the base price until Elon got on the stage and promised it. The web site at the time confirmed it. Now it appears they have changed their mind. I was not going to buy a Model 3 in any case, but I am disappointed in Tesla for playing these games.

    • Tim K A Cheah - 7 years ago


      • Tk421 - 7 years ago


      • Musky Elon - 7 years ago

        Dude, where’s my car.

      • kijijigod - 7 years ago


    • Robert Silvers - 7 years ago

      He said supercharging would be standard but I interpreted that as supercharging capability. How could they promise free electricity on a low-cost product? Since there was confusion, they clarified it later. I see no problem with that.

      Imagine how upset Model S and X owners would be waiting in line behind a dozen Model 3s. The solution is to pay per use and have the price be dynamic like Uber pricing based on the demand. But people who pay $2000 up front can be exempt from that demand pricing.

  11. JP - 7 years ago

    When the 60kWh car was actually in production getting supercharger access as an option at the time of purchase was $2K. As an add on after purchase it was $2.5K.

    • freeform1999 - 7 years ago

      I’m just hoping supercharger ia a $1000-1500 max. add-on since it’s a $35k mass market car their selling…
      Economies of scale!
      $1500 x 200,000 cars = $300,000,000!
      So go build some more chargers and even charge per use and even limit it a bit if necessary
      but don’t make it too expensive to buy in for the masses.
      I’ll only need it on a few vacations a year.

      Sell a bunch more cars over over a 3 year period, say 700k cars x $1500 = 1,050,000,000.
      That’s over a billion bucks just to for the add-on at 1500 a pop.

  12. Nico - 7 years ago

    Supercharging would be best if it stays free. But in order to not use locale superchargers it would be best to disable all superchargers around 100 km from your home. That is the best at most simplest way for both parth.

    • Anon - 7 years ago

      In that case, it might be difficult to return back home after a long trip if there are superchargers in a distance of 350km and then 99km from your home. You’d need to skip the last one and stay at the other one for a long time to make it.

  13. arnulf - 7 years ago

    One big advantage when paying pr charge is, if charge port is bidirectional, car battery could power your home at peak hour, and recharge at night at low rate. You could even sell power to utility at peak hour, and buy back at low rate. The car could earn you money when you sleep.

    You cold even use the car to power your caravan, or offgrid cabin, also to plug all your power tools into your car. Car battery is several times larger than PowerWall, “take the grid with you wherever you go” !

    As long as Supercharging is free, this option will never be added!

    • JP - 7 years ago

      Rather ridiculous idea if you think Tesla wouldn’t charge a premium for the power they sell, as they should. Plus the idea of shuttling charge between the supercharger and your home is just silly if you consider the time involved for minimal “savings”. Not to mention if people actually did as you describe it would tie up even more superchargers.

      • arnulf - 7 years ago

        Park your car at home, plug it in, based on usage pattern, say you want 90% in the morning, and arrive with 60% (charged last night at home, no shuttling, 30% used during day). Now the car can figure out how much power can be used/sold at evening, and still be at 90% in the morning. This is easy for car to calculate, if time of high/low rate is known and charge speed.

        Several companies/researchers are looking into how to integrate the car into the SmartGrid, Tesla is one of them.

      • JP - 7 years ago

        Sounds as if you are describing something different than charging at a supercharger and then using that charge at home.

      • arnulf - 7 years ago

        Power plants has to be able to supply peak power, power lines the same. If peak power could be reduced, there are no need for new power plants or bigger lines. At night usage is low (bathtub curve). If there was batteries in the mix, we might even shut down a coal plant or two.

        Gigafactory plans to produce 50 GWh of batteries per year, some used in PowerWalls, the rest in cars.

        Tesla delivers cars with more battery capacity than normally used from day to day.

        Could some of the car capacity be used at home and in the grid to reduce grid peak power ?

        Here are some videos to explain part of problems/solutions:

        Fully Charged Show:
        National Grid:
        Volts for Miles:
        Volts for Oil:

        Tesla Powerwall Explained! – A Battery Powered Home:

        Tesla CTO JB Straubel:
        In his speeches, he often touch this subject.

        Tesla have changed the auto-industry, next up is power-storage, usage (and generation, SCTY).

      • JP - 7 years ago

        I’m well aware of all of that. Again, it can be done without using superchargers. Your original premise of going to a supercharger, paying for a charge, and assuming it would be less than peak rates, and then bringing home to reduce your rates, was flawed. In any case peak load smoothing can be done with dedicated stationary battery packs already, without using the car pack. Don’t expect Tesla to enable bi-directional power in the car any time soon.

      • arnulf - 7 years ago

        JP, you got me all wrong!

  14. Ian - 7 years ago

    Wait until they jack up the price of the car.

  15. rahulio (@rahulio) - 7 years ago

    I think the autopilot language change “autopilot hardware” is strictly to avoid confusion for people who see that and they will complain that it’s $2.5k to turn on the “convenience features”. Seems like they will do exactly the same as on Model S, where you get hardware + safety features for free. Anyway a $37.5k car that drives itself in 99% of city and highway scenarios is going to be an unprecedented milestone in automotive history.

  16. Michelle - 7 years ago

    Looks like they have changed it yet again

    • SC - 7 years ago

      Yes they did, now it’s “Supercharging” agian and “Designed to achieve 5-star safety rating” 😀 I like!!
      They also made a similar change in my language (Dutch)

  17. Ugo - 7 years ago

    I’m not english native, but to me “supercharger capable/capability” simply means that the car has the necessary hardware to handle the high current delivered by superchargers.
    which is something that first basic Ss clearly didn’t have, so the 2000 $ option makes sense.
    now, saying “the car has the HW to use superchargers in case you need it without melting down” is not “you can use them free of charge anytime and everywhere you want”.
    remember that pay for charge is actually the standard in the industry (and it’s also quite understandable…), the exceptions are the S/X but i’ve always thought 3 would access any charger paying for it (ppu or subscription).
    even geofencing the use to permit free access of SC far from user’s home would be quite surprising to me…


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