Tesla’s Canadian compliance car: Is 94-mile Model 3 a clever workaround or silly business?

Tesla recently brought its nearly nonexistent entry-level Canadian model—a version of its Model 3 electric sedan that costs about 45,000 Canadian dollars (about $36,000 U.S.)—out into the open. 

Under Transport Canada’s iZEV program, eligible EVs have to be priced below CA$45,000 before destination and other fees. The Standard Range, which has been offered since 2019, is priced at CA$44,999, allowing the point-of-sale federal incentive; and up until now it’s been a special-request model not listed on Tesla’s Canadian configurator. 

Now it is, which allows shoppers to m ore easily see what they’re getting, or not getting. Tesla confirms the same 5.6-second 0-60 mph time and 140-mph top speed for the Standard Range as for the Standard Range Plus.

Canadian-market Tesla Model 3 Standard Range at 94 miles

Canadian-market Tesla Model 3 Standard Range at 94 miles

As Tesla seemingly proudly points out on its site: “Trims of the same Model qualify up to MSRP $55,000 before delivery centre fees.” That means the Standard Range Plus, with its price of CA$52,900, including delivery and fees, also qualifies for the incentive, although Tesla doesn’t build it into the order tools as of yet in the same way.

The range of electric vehicles drops significantly, by 20% even more, in temperatures that aren’t unusual for Canada in the winter. As Tesla recommends: “For the best long range driving experience in the coldest driving conditions, we recommend a Long Range or Performance Model 3.”

The Standard Range carries just as many cells as the 263-mile Standard Range Plus, but with software it’s locked out of the majority of that capacity and limits range to only 94 miles. That gives owners the option to upgrade down the line, but it also means that neither they nor Tesla reap the advantages of a smaller battery in terms of a lower carbon footprint and precious cells saved for vehicles and uses that need them

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Tesla Model 3 design prototype – reveal event – March 2016

In the U.S., Tesla initially teased a 215-mile range and $35,000 entry price for the Model 3. Eventually, it held true to the deal—or very close to it—but only for a limited time. In its last iteration, the Model 3 Standard Range offered an EPA-rated 220 miles and was an off-menu option by request. That option was phased out with the 2020 model-year Model 3

Green Car Reports has asked Transport Canada if this change was requested or required by the government agency. We’ll update this story if an when we receive a reply. In the meantime, if you have a true Standard Range unicorn, let us know how it works for you in your comments below.