Tesla Model 3 Caught Cold-Weather Testing in New Zealand

Dirty and dented, it's the roughest-looking example we've seen.

As journalists, deposit-holders, and electric vehicle fans eagerly await Friday night’s “handover party” during which Elon Musk will preside over the first Tesla Model 3 deliveries to 30 lucky individuals, an interesting video has popped up showing a dinged-up example Tesla’s planned mass-market EV undergoing cold-weather testing in New Zealand.

Taken by spy photographers with Ecotricity, the undated video shows a Tesla Model 3 coming around a corner on a dirt road somewhere in the mountains of southern New Zealand this month. There’s patchy snow everywhere, so it’s obviously cold, and pictures at the end of the clip show it on a snow-covered lot ringed by giant plows and snowcats. 

In June, Electrek reported that the first Model 3 seen outside the U.S. had been spotted at the Auckland, NZ airport, and this appears to be the same car. Electrek also named the site of the video as a South Island ski resort called the Snow Valley Lodge, a full 22 hours from Auckland and the site of the country’s only Supercharger. In such rugged, remote conditions, the little Model 3 almost looks like a time machine that took a wrong turn.

Other than the fish-out-of-water aspect, another noteworthy detail is that large dents are visible on the driver’s side in the last picture. Whether this speaks to its lack of grip on snow or just an after-hours drift sesh gone wrong, we can’t say. Still, it does appear to be the first image of a Tesla Model 3 with body damage. 

The Tesla Model 3 will only be offered with rear wheel drive to start, with the dual-motor all wheel drive option shelved in the name of “minimizing configuration complexity” until production is ramped up. But that’s not necessarily a problem, since proper tires can make all the difference, as we’ve pointed out before.

Given that this video was probably taken sometime in the last month, hopefully nothing troublesome popped up…or Friday’s party could give way to a killer hangover.