Tesla Battery Life Longer Than Anyone (Except Elon & JB) Expected

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Say “electric car” to the average person and their first question is, “How far can it go?” The second is, “How long does it take to charge?” The third is, “How often do you have to replace the battery?” And the fourth question is, “How much does a new battery cost?” All good questions, and when electric cars were new, fears of being stuck with a car that needed a costly battery replacement every few years were very real.

Tesla battery lifeSince then, real-world experience has shown that concerns about battery life are overstated. Yes, Nissan had some issues with battery life in early examples of the LEAF, but since a redesign in 2014, little has been heard in the press about battery replacements for Nissan’s electric car. If you own a Tesla, the latest figures should really help put your mind at ease. According to InsideEVs, this is the list of the Tesla automobiles with the highest accumulated mileage:

High mileage Tesla cars

Tesloop, a southern California intercity shuttle, uses Tesla automobiles exclusively. In fact, the company put over 300,000 miles on a Model X in less than two years. That car has lost less than 13% of its original battery capacity. According to its observation, the bulk of the degradation happened in the first 9 months, with very little after that point.

That’s not to say Tesloop has had no battery issues. The battery in its first car, a Model S, has been replaced twice, both times under warranty. The first replacement came at 194,000 miles, at which point the battery had lost 6% of its original range. Upon examination, Tesla determined that improper use of the company’s Supercharger network contributed to the degradation.

“Found internal imbalance in HV battery due to consistent supercharging to 100% from a low state of charge (SOC) without any rest periods in between. HV battery has been approved to be replaced. Also recommend that customer does not Supercharge on a regular basis and does not charge to 100% on a regular basis. We also recommend that the customer use scheduled charging to start charge 3 hours after end of drive at low SOC.”

The second replacement at 324,000 miles was due to a software issue that caused incorrect range estimates. The battery was replaced and the software was subsequently updated. No further issues have occurred. Today, that car is the one you see at the top of the list above — the first Tesla to accumulate more than 400,000 miles.

Tesloop says its cost of maintenance over the life of the car comes to just 5 cents per mile. It estimates maintenance costs for a Lincoln Town Car over the same number of miles would have been 22 cents per mile, and for a Mercedes GLS, 25 cents per mile. The car’s front drive motor was replaced at 37,500 miles under warranty.

Worried about battery life? Don’t be, especially if you are driving a Tesla. Perform the regular maintenance and avoid regular Supercharging from a low state of charge to 100% capacity. Then relax and enjoy the ride.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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