What lifespan does a Tesla battery have, and how can you make the most of it? Read on to find out.
Tesla is one of the best in the business at making electric cars, boasting class-leading ranges, plenty of technology and a dedicated following that some established car manufacturers can only dream of.
As great as its EVs can be though, they’re not immune from a problem that affects anything battery-powered — the life of the batteries themselves.
That’s not to put you off though, it’s something every electric car faces and it’s not too different from the amount of things that can go wrong on a petrol- or diesel-powered cars. It’s also fair to say that batteries losing capacity over time – technically known as ‘degradation’ – has turned out to be far less of an issue than was feared in the early days of EVs.
Nonetheless, if you’re wondering how long a Tesla battery will last, we have all the answers, plus we’ve compiled some useful tips on how to get the most from a Tesla battery..
What kind of battery does a Tesla use?
Tesla uses four different types of batteries across its model range. The first was produced by Panasonic for the original Roadster and has been developed for use in the Model S and Model X. These are similar to general use batteries and adapted for electric cars.
Tesla found that using larger capacity versions of the cells within a battery, with fewer cells per vehicle, worked better for their needs. These characteristics can be found in a new design that has been used in the Model 3 and Model Y, supplied by Panasonic and LG Chem.
In 2022, an even larger cell design was introduced by the firm, made in-house in collaboration with Panasonic. With improved cell chemistry and battery management, it’s more energy dense than older designs, meaning you get more energy capacity for the same weight. Currently, it’s only used in Model Ys built in Texas.
Finally, a new battery design is being used in single-motor, rear-wheel-drive vehicles built in Shanghai, some of which come to Europe and the US. This new construction is significantly cheaper to make and doesn’t require any nickel or cobalt, but is less energy dense, resulting in a lower range for the same weight as other cells.
Tesla is continuing to develop new technologies, and recently published a paper in which it claimed to have designed a battery that could last 100 years or four million miles under optimal conditions. A new chemical construction means the cells don’t break down as quickly during the charge-discharge cycle, meaning the battery has a longer useful capacity.
Do different Tesla models have different batteries?
Each Tesla model uses the different cell constructions as outlined above, but different battery sizes are also available depending on the model, with bigger batteries typically adding more range and more cost.
Battery capacity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), which is a measurement of how much energy is being used per hour. The standard Model 3 and Model Y get a 54kWh unit, while the Long Range and Performance versions get a 75kWh battery. Both the Model S and Model X use 100kWh batteries.
A car’s power output also affects its range, though. On the Model 3 and Model Y you can buy an entry-level single-motor version that will be the least expensive model because of its smaller battery and lack of an expensive second motor.
All cars have dual-motor versions with a bigger battery. At the top of the range of the Model 3 and Model Y is the Performance, which sacrifices a little range in favour of rapid acceleration, while Long Range models don’t have quite as much power but use their bigger battery to provide the longest distance between charges.
The Model S and Model X dual-motor, big battery versions act as the entry-level versions, topped by a triple-motor Plaid model that has a key focus on being very, very fast.
How long will a Tesla battery last on one charge?
As with all electric cars, each model of Tesla is given an official range based on a standardised industry testing system, but there are numerous factors that affect how far a car can travel in the real world. These include the weight of the car, plus the ambient temperature, the speed of your journey, as well as your driving style.
For example, batteries do not like cold weather, so you’ll find yourself charging more often in winter than in summer. Furthermore, if you’re regularly doing trips around town where you use the regenerative brakes often, you’ll see more range than when travelling at steady motorway speeds, which require lots of energy.
The official range of each Tesla model on sale in the UK is listed below:
|Tesla Model 3||305 miles|
|Tesla Model 3 Long Range||374 miles|
|Tesla Model 3 Performance||340 miles|
|Tesla Model Y||267 miles|
|Tesla Model Y Long Range||331 miles|
|Tesla Model Y Performance||319 miles|
|Tesla Model S||405 miles|
|Tesla Model S Plaid||396 miles|
|Tesla Model X||348 miles|
|Tesla Model X Plaid||333 miles|
What is the lifespan of a Tesla battery?
You might have noticed that the battery in your smartphone doesn’t last as long after a couple of years compared with when it was new. That’s because batteries degrade over time thanks to the charging and discharging cycle.
However, while this was a concern 10 or so years ago when electric cars first began to gain popularity, it has become clear that range isn’t affected too badly by battery degradation.
Tesla analysis released in 2021 suggested its Model S and Model X battery packs would lose about 10% of their energy capacity after 200,000 miles.
This tallies with real-world results. A group of about 350 owners in Belgium and the Netherlands have been pooling data and found batteries lose about 5% of capacity in the first 50,000 miles, but degradation tails off after that. The data suggests losses will hit 10% at around 190,000 miles.
Does Tesla give you a battery warranty?
Although the data above suggests there should be little worry about the long-term health of a Tesla battery, the American firm offers a warranty in case something goes wrong.
This comes in the form of a ‘Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranty’ and covers “the repair or replacement necessary to correct defects in the materials or workmanship of any parts manufactured or supplied by Tesla, which occur under normal use”. This includes the battery retaining at least 70% of its original capacity over the course of the warranty.
Here are the three Tesla Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranties available:
|Model S and Model X||8 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first, with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period.|
|Model 3/Y RWD||8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first, with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period.|
|Model 3/Y Long Range and Model 3/Y Performance||8 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first, with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period.|
How do I look after my Tesla battery?
If you want to reduce the degradation of your battery, there are a few steps you can take.
Only use Superchargers when necessary
Tesla’s Supercharger network is an impressive thing — letting you take your Tesla’s battery from 10% to 80% in about 35 minutes — but using it too often can have a detrimental effect on the battery.
Faster charging rates, 125kW in this case, cause higher wear on batteries, so regular plugging in at home rather than relying on public Superchargers will help battery longevity. That’s not to say avoid them entirely, they are really useful after all, but try to use them as little as often.
Don’t charge above 80% unless you need to
Once a battery is above 80% of its total capacity, it takes on more stress when being charged, which negatively impacts its lifespan. If you don’t need to use the full range of your Tesla, keeping it below 80% charge is a safe bet to improve the life of the battery.
Maintain a regular charging schedule
If you can, stick to a regular schedule for charging where you can give your car a longer charge rather than plugging it in for short periods at random intervals.
Every ‘cycle’ of charge will take a small dent out of the battery life, with shorter and frequent charges providing more of a hit to the cell than longer, less-frequent ones.
Drive more smoothly
If you drive smoothly, you’ll be able to make the most of your Tesla’s range — and have to charge it less often as a result. Erratic driving will have a detrimental effect on range, so you’ll have to plug it in more — it’s as simple as that.
Easy ways to smooth your driving out include gradually applying the throttle when pulling away from a stop rather than slamming your foot down, as well as lifting off earlier and allowing the car to coast a bit when coming to a halt rather than braking abruptly.
How much would it cost to replace the battery in a Tesla?
A Tesla battery replacement would be in the region of £10,000 to £15,000 including labour costs, though this could be significantly cut down by purchasing a second-hand battery and using an independent specialist, rather than a Tesla service centre.
Battery costs are directly linked to the size of the battery, rather than the car they’re being fitted to, so a Model 3 and Model S with the same battery size would have similar repair costs, for example.
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