You either love them or hate them. Tesla’s 18 inch aero wheel covers for its Model 3 certainly create divided opinions amongst Tesla owners and fans as to whether they should be removed at delivery (or as soon as possible thereafter), or be kept on the vehicle, both because they think they look good, and because of Tesla’s claims that they improve efficiency and range.
Tesla claims that the aero covers can increase the range of your Model 3, but even still, many owners pick aesthetics over function, myself included. Now the latest tests from Car and Driver suggest that keeping those aero covers on might be a good idea, especially for a road trip.
Car and Driver recently took a Long Range Dual Motor to a track, and performed several tests under controlled conditions to put some numbers behind the claims of improved efficiency. To ensure fair and accurate results, the car was set up consistently between tests, which included tire pressures at 42psi, HVAC controls at 72 degrees on auto, and an ambient outside temperature of 44 degrees.
The tests were performed back to back and consisted 2 laps of an 8km (5mi) track (that had no elevations changes) at speeds of 80km/h, 112km/h, and 144km/h (50, 70, and 90mph), both with and without the aero covers. The numbers were obtained from the on-board energy app.
Tests at 80km/h
On average, the aero covers reduced consumption by 3.1%, equating to a boost in the range from 502km (312mi) to 518km (322mi).
Tests at 112km/h
On average, the aero covers reduced consumption by 2.5%, equating to a boost in the range from 407km (253mi) to 418km (260mi).
Tests at 144km/h
On average, the aero covers reduced consumption by 4.5%, equating to a boost in the range from 305km (190mi) to 320km (199mi).
When averaged over the three speed tests, the aero wheel covers were 3.4% more efficient.
What may be an ever bigger takeaway from Car and Driver’s tests are the efficiencies realized at different speeds. From their results, travelling at 80km/h compared to travelling at 112km/h, results in an increase in range of around 100km. That equates to an extra hour of driving without having to stop for a charge, something that can make a big difference on the road. It’s also clear that driving at high speeds kills efficiency, something which we already knew, but its good to get some numbers behind it.
Regardless of what people think of the aesthetics of the aero covers, they perform as designed and can give you back some crucial range either in your daily driving, or when on a road trip. That’s particularly important in Canada where our cold winters can impact range by 20%-30%.
Will you be putting your aero covers back on permanently? Only in the winter? Only for road trips? Let us know in the comments below.