Electric Cars

Tesla 93-mile Model 3 is available in Canada, but it's not the deal you think

Tesla found a way to get around pricing requirements for a Canadian EV incentive program -- and it had to get clever.

Tesla wants its Model 3 to qualify for a new Canadian EV incentive, so it had to get creative.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The Canadian government recently decided to offer a CA$5,000 incentive (about $3,720) for people purchasing electric cars. The catch is that there are some pretty specific price stipulations on which vehicles qualify for that incentive. Based on those limits, current Tesla models would have been ineligible and that would be a bummer.

Leave it to the folks at the Big T to stick it to Canada by just barely squeaking under the CA$45,000 pricing limit with a model that nobody will buy, so that people can get the discount on the car they actually want -- aka the Model 3 Standard Range Plus -- thanks to a loophole.

Electrek reported on Wednesday that Tesla will offer a Model 3 in Canada that has a software-limited range of just 150 kilometers (93 miles). If a sub-100 mile Tesla sounds kind of counter to Tesla's whole mindset, then you're probably right, but the critical figure about this model isn't the range, it's the price.

This new Canadian standard Model 3 will set buyers back CA$44,999, which means it's eligible for the government incentive. But the incentive also allows for models that cost more than CA$45,000 if the base model is under that limit, as long as the higher trims don't exceed CA$55,000.

Like the standard-range Model 3 in the US, Tesla is making ordering the 93-mile-range car in Canada a bit of a chore, likely in hopes that it won't eat into sales of the Standard Range Plus car, which sells for CA$53,700 before incentives.

If you're reading this and thinking, hey, I bet that 150km range is just software-limited, you're totally right. But if you're thinking you could later pay to unlock the extra range found in the Standard Range Plus model, you'd be dead wrong. Tesla isn't allowing buyers to upgrade their range as it has in the past. So, the moral of this story is that Tesla can game Canada, but you can't game Tesla. Just pony up the extra eight grand and get the wildly superior Standard Range Plus model.

We'll be curious to see how long the Canadian government goes with this, as it's not really in the spirit of the incentive, but hopefully it helps convince lots of Canadians to make the jump to electric cars.

Originally published May 1.
Update, May 2: Adds information about Tesla's unwillingness to offer later software-based range increases.