When it comes to electric vehicles, Tesla is considered the industry leader. And owing to their cutting edge battery technology, their EVs boast some of the most impressive ranges you can find on the market.
But just like your phone’s internal battery, or any battery for that matter, electric car batteries are subject to degradation. That means over time, the battery will deplete in a shorter amount of time and reduce the car’s range.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look into the range of a healthy Tesla car battery and what happens to that as the battery capacity is reduced over time.
How Far Can A Tesla Travel on a Single Charge?
Before we discuss the lifespan of a Tesla battery, let’s talk about the maximum range you can expect from a new and healthy Tesla.
Every Tesla model, even when you look as far back as 2012, has an EPA range of at least 200 miles.
However, the most recent Tesla models boast industry-leading figures, with the likes of the Model S capable of going over 400 miles on a single charge.
Here are the EPA estimated ranges of the current Tesla lineup:
- Model 3 Standard Plus: 262 miles
- Model 3 Long Range AWD: 353 miles
- Model 3 Performance: 315 miles
- Model S: 405 miles
- Model S Plaid: 396 miles
- Model X Long Range: 360 miles
- Model X Plaid: 340 miles
- Model Y Long Range AWD: 303 miles
- Model Y Performance: 326 miles
How Long Will A Tesla Battery Last?
Now let’s answer the question that inevitably concerns many EV owners and prospective buyers. What is the lifespan of the battery?
Warranty Cover: 120,000 or 150,000 miles (depending on model)
Well, the Tesla battery warranty will cover battery-related issues for 8 years or 120,000 miles (Model 3, Model Y)/150,000 miles (Model S, Model X) – whichever comes first.
That not only causes complete failure, but also situations where the battery dips under 70% of its original capacity.
It’s reassuring to know Tesla has your back, but many drivers expect to rack up over 120,000 miles with their car. So what happens after 120,000 miles?
Tesla Data: Good For 300,000 to 500,000 miles
Tesla themselves say the Model 3’s battery is designed to last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles (1500 charge cycles) before needing replacement. You can expect a 10 percent reduction in capacity after 160,000 miles.
The Model 3’s drive unit and body are apparently fit for one million miles, meaning the battery will likely encounter problems before these components.
Other Tesla models can expect similar or even slightly improved figures.
Real-World Figures: 10% degradation after 300,000 miles
Because Teslas have been on the road for many years now, we’ve got a good amount of data on how well older models have been faring. And fortunately, the real-world numbers are even more impressive.
One Model 3 driver with average driving habits reported a 2.5% degradation after 100,000 miles, while a Model S Tesla owner reported surpassing 200,000 miles with 6% battery degradation.
Meanwhile, Tesloop, a now out-of-business shuttle service that used to operate a fleet of Teslas, reported their model X models were running fine after 300,000 miles and were only losing around 10% of maximum capacity.
However you look at it, Tesla vehicles are lasting longer than most fuel-powered cars without the need for engine maintenance or battery replacement.
What Kind of Battery Is In A Tesla?
Like the batteries used in most electronic devices, Tesla uses rechargeable Lithium-Ion (Li-On) batteries. Technically, there are thousands of these contained inside a Tesla’s battery pack, as a car obviously has high energy requirements.
Tesla has been using NCA chemistry for their batteries, which relies a fair bit on Cobalt. The problem with Cobalt is that it is expensive and there are ethical concerns about the way it is sourced.
As a result, Tesla is looking to move towards cobalt-free batteries, which could result in improved battery longevity.
What factors affect how long a Tesla battery lasts?
The exact amount of EV battery degradation you can expect will depend on several factors. Here are the main factors which impact battery health:
Accelerating quickly, going at max speed and other erratic driving behavior can lead to reduced electric car battery life. This kind of driving cause surges in power demand which wear out the battery faster.
To maximize battery life, drive smoothly and brake early and slowly. Also, ensure your tires are properly inflated.
Because of the way battery chemistry is, you should avoid overcharging your Tesla or letting it deplete completely.
At these critical zones, the battery lifespan is negatively impacted.
As a rule of thumb, try and keep the battery percentage between 20% and 80%. You can use the manual charge limiter to prevent overcharging.
Using high voltage fast chargers like the 150kW/250kW Tesla Supercharger charging station will also cause rapid degradation, and should therefore be avoided unless necessary.
Charging on a regular schedule using a low-voltage charger is always preferred, from a battery health perspective.
Extreme cold temperatures cause the car’s battery to be less efficient, meaning you won’t be able to travel as far on a single charge. It also means that you’ll have to go through more charge cycles to travel the same distance, reducing the battery life.
On the other end, high temperatures can shorten the battery’s lifespan by causing electrolytes inside the battery to break down. These electrolytes are responsible for transferring lithium ions between electrodes, and having fewer means reduced battery performance.
Unfortunately, some things are just out of your control. While you can try to minimize charge cycles and develop faultless driving and charging habits, time also takes a toll on batteries and there’s just not much you can do about it.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Tesla Battery?
While many Tesla owners will likely sell or scrap their Tesla before replacing their battery, it is possible to get them replaced out of warranty.
It’s not cheap, though. Because Tesla battery replacements are so rarely performed, there’s not much pricing data out there. However, most reports suggest it will cost anywhere between $12,000 to $20,000.
Technically, it should be possible to replace an underperforming individual battery module as opposed to the entire pack. An individual module costs around $5,000. However, in most cases replacements will just switch out the whole battery pack, and might involve other parts being replaced, like the electric motor for example.
Given a ~$15,000 fee to replace the battery, you’re looking at a substantial chunk of the Tesla’s original price. At that point, it might not seem worth it.
So unless you have car insurance that cover’s worn batteries, it might just be better to say goodbye to your Tesla and find a new or used car to replace it.
How do I check if the battery on a used Tesla is still good?
One of the great things about the iPhone is their battery health percentage that can be viewed in the phone’s settings. It gives you an immediate idea of how healthy the battery is compared to its brand-new state.
Unfortunately, Tesla does not give you such an easy way to find out the overall battery health. While there are some long and convoluted methods for calculating a number at home, the best thing to do is call service and ask for a battery test.
Have Tesla Car Batteries Been Improving?
Absolutely. If we compare early circa-2013 Teslas with the latest generation, general reliability and battery technology has improved considerably.
Because of this, and the fact that replacing EV batteries isn’t really a common practice, buying a used Tesla can be risky.
You would generally be better off buying a more affordable, lower-end model such as the Model 3, instead of buying an older, higher-end Model S, for example. It gets you a car in tip-top condition with a brand new battery and all the newest technology.
We can expect more improvements to Teslas in the future, too. Tesla are working on a million mile battery that will undoubtedly put even the most demanding drivers’ minds at ease.
EV vs ICE vehicle longevity
One of the biggest advantages electric vehicles have over cars with an internal combustion engine are the fuel savings and car maintenance savings.
An internal combustion engine has so many moving parts that mean there are many potential mechanical failures. By contrast, far fewer things can go wrong with an EV.
But ICEs don’t have the problem of losing range over time. Because they’re powered by fuel and the fuel tank doesn’t get smaller over time, a properly maintained old car can go just as far as it did when bought new.
It is this inherent problem of having a limited battery lifespan that makes used EVs potentially more difficult than buying a used gas or hybrid vehicle.
With the rise of EVs, the electric vehicle industry will need make it cheaper to replace batteries to ensure buying used electric cars remains an attractive and viable option.