MIC Tesla Model 3 SR+ Fast Charging Test Reveals Strong Results

The car equipped with CATL’s LFP battery cells basically matches the one with Panasonic’s NCA battery.

Today we will take a look at one of the latest and most interesting fast charging tests in Europe of the Made-in-China (MIC) Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+).

This particular version (SR+) is imported to Europe from the U.S. and China, but we guess that the Chinese import represents now the majority. The main difference between the MIC and US-made cars is the battery.

In China, Tesla equips the SR+ with LFP lithium-ion batteries supplied by CATL, while the US-made Model 3 is equipped with NCA type, supplied by Panasonic.

LFP (lithium iron phosphate) and NCA (nickel, cobalt, aluminum oxide) are the chemistry types of lithium-ion cathode.

The packs might have a bit different capacity (LFP has higher) and characteristics. Bjørn Nyland, who conducted the test (see also a range test), notes that LFP has lower temperatures due to lower internal resistance, cells have lower voltage, charging to higher state-of-charge is more acceptable, but it might struggle at lower temperatures. An important advantage of LFP cells is their very long cycle life.

Anyway, we would like to see how fast it charges and whether there are some differences, important to customers.

Charging power vs state-of-charge (SOC)

The charging curve of the 2021 MIC Tesla Model 3 SR+ with LFP battery is very smooth, but the shape is slightly different than in the case of the NCA battery (more on that later).

When starting at 10% SOC, charging power quickly increases to a peak of 165 kW (for a while it was even a little bit more) and then decreases. Overall the peak values were available only for a while in this particular test.

A positive thing is that MIC Model 3 SR+ appears to have higher power at high SOC levels (80-100%) than other Model 3 SR+ cars.

Let’s now compare the results with previous tests of Tesla Model 3 SR+, Volkswagen ID.3 and Hyundai Ioniq 5:

  • 2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+ and 2020 Tesla Model 3 SR+ (both US-made, NCA)
  • 2020 Volkswagen ID.3 (62 kWh RWD)
  • 2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (58.2 kWh) 

Comparison of charging power

In terms of the charging curve, the MIC Tesla Model 3 SR+ with LFP battery has a similar peak value as the Tesla Model 3 SR+ with NCA batteries, although it decreases quickly after the peak. Then, the power level matches SR+ from 2020 and even beats it from 75% SOC.

The 2021 SR+ (NCA) has the worst curve, but according to what we heard, Tesla was adjusting the charging curve through a software update, so it might be actually closer to the older NCA and new LFP.

The Volkswagen ID.3 with a 62 kWh battery is no match for the MIC Tesla Model 3 SR+, although the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (the one with a smaller battery) is the best in terms of power level.

In the 20-80% SOC window, the SR+ with LFP battery is as good as the 2020 SR+ with NCA battery with respectively 81 kW and 82 kW average. The 2021 SR+ with NCA battery is noticeably slower (64 kW), but as we said – it might be a matter of it needing a software tweak.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a class of its own.

DC Fast Charging Comparison by InsideEVs
Model
[data source]
Drive /
Battery
(kWh)
Max
Power
Avg
Power
(20-80%)
2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+ (MIC, LFP) 2021
[Bjørn Nyland]
RWD
55.4 kWh
165 kW 81 kW
2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+
[Bjørn Nyland]
RWD
55 kWh
159 kW 64 kW
2020 Tesla Model 3 SR+
[Fastned]
RWD
53 kWh
170 kW 82 kW
2020 Volkswagen ID.3 (62 kWh RWD)
[Fastned]
RWD
62 kWh
100 kW 70 kW
2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (58.2 kWh)
[Andreas Haehnel]
AWD
62 kWh
177 kW 144 kW

Comparison of State-of-charge (SOC) vs time

The 20-80% SOC charging time of 22-23 minutes appears to be similar to the 2020 Model 3 SR+, although the 2021 Model 3 SR+ version required about half an hour (just like Volkswagen ID.3).

Hyundai Ioniq 5 with a charging time of 15 minutes is once again, a class of its own.

Comparison of C-rate

The C-rate comparison reveals that the peak load on the LFP battery is comparable to the NCA packs.

A little bit of summary:

DC Fast Charging Comparison by InsideEVs
Model
[data source]
Drive /
Battery
(kWh)
Max
Power
Avg
Power
(20-80%)
Max
C-Rate
Avg
C-Rate
(20-80%)
2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+ (MIC, LFP) 2021
[Bjørn Nyland]
RWD
55.4 kWh
165 kW 81 kW 3.0 1.5
2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+
[Bjørn Nyland]
RWD
55 kWh
159 kW 64 kW 2.9 1.2
2020 Tesla Model 3 SR+
[Fastned]
RWD
53 kWh
170 kW 82 kW 3.2 1.5
2020 Volkswagen ID.3 (62 kWh RWD)
[Fastned]
RWD
62 kWh
100 kW 70 kW 1.6 1.1
2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (58.2 kWh)
[Andreas Haehnel]
AWD
62 kWh
177 kW 144 kW 2.9 2.3

Comparison of range replenishing speed

When comparing the range replenishing speed, the efficiency comes into the game, and as we know, Tesla Model 3 is the most efficient electric car on the market.

This is why the latest Model 3 SR+ leaves the Volkswagen ID.3 in the dust and cuts the gap to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (Ioniq 5 is an SUV, though).

The average rate in 20-80% SOC window at 12.1 km/min (7.5 mi/min) is higher than in other SR+ tests, which means that the LFP is as good as the NCA (2020).

DC Fast Charging Comparison by InsideEVs
Model
[data source]
Drive /
Battery
(kWh)
Avg
Power
(20-80%)
WLTP range
rep. rate
(20-80%)
2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+ (MIC, LFP) 2021
[Bjørn Nyland]
RWD
55.4 kWh
81 kW 12.1 km/min
7.5 mi/min
2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+
[Bjørn Nyland]
RWD
55 kWh
64 kW 9.4 km/min
5.8 mi/min
2020 Tesla Model 3 SR+
[Fastned]
RWD
53 kWh
82 kW 11.4 km/min
7.1 mi/min
2020 Volkswagen ID.3 (62 kWh RWD)
[Fastned]
RWD
62 kWh
70 kW 8.4 km/min
5.2 mi/min
2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (58.2 kWh)
[Andreas Haehnel]
AWD
62 kWh
144 kW 15.2 km/min
9.5 mi/min

Conclusions

The latest test proves that there is nothing to worry about the MIC Tesla Model 3 SR+ in comparison to the version imported from the U.S. The Tesla Model 3 SR+ charges very fast.

The charging curve and range replenishing rates, in cars equipped with LFP battery, are similar and in some cases even better than in the cars with the NCA battery (power level at the end of a session).

We assume that the use of LFP batteries is actually the right way for all entry-level versions, because they have the potential to lower the cost.

Some further tests still have to be done to fully understand the differences (including a new test of the 2021 SR+ with NCA cells) and a cold-weather charging test of the SR+ with LFP battery (there are some concerns about that).

The comparison with Hyundai Ioniq 5 reveals that Tesla is no longer on the top of the fast charging game.

2021 Tesla Model 3 SR+ (MIC, LFP) 2021 :: DC Fast Charging Summary by InsideEVs
Drive: RWD; Battery pack (net / total): 49.8 / 55.4 kWh
[Data source: Bjørn Nyland]
Peak Power
Peak C-rate

Average Power (20-80% SOC)
Average-to-Peak Power
Average C-rate (20-80% SOC)

Time (20-80% SOC)

165 kW
3.0

81 kW
49%
1.5

22-23 min

Range Replenishing Speed (Average 20-80% SOC):
WLTP 12.1 km/min (7.5 mi/min)

General info:

* Some values on the charts are estimated from the data source.

** Temperature of the battery cells might highly negatively affect charging capabilities. We don’t have data about temperatures of the battery at the beginning and during the charging process. In cold or hot weather, as well as after driving very dynamically, charging power might be significantly lower than shown on the charts (in extreme cases charging might be impossible until the battery temperature will not return to an acceptable level).

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