Learning that a Tesla, which is full of lithium-ion batteries, also has an old-school 12V battery is often a shocker to people. But it does, and like in other cars, it’s a part of the car that tends to die every few years, especially in blazingly hot places like Florida where I live.
I was actually informing my wife of this just yesterday, because we were driving by an auto shop that does 12V battery replacements in a shopping center parking lot and one was going on right then. Like nearly everyone else who learns this, it was a surprise that our Tesla Model 3 has a conventional 12V battery in addition to the giant one we charge a few times a week (for $0).
The shocker that a Tesla has a 12V battery is often accompanied by the shocker that that battery will one day just up and die on you, with no or little warning. [Update: Some Tesla owners have indicated in the comments that they have gotten warnings when their 12V batteries were getting close to end of life and needed replaced.] Of course, this is not unique to Teslas. This happens in gasoline-powered cars every day, and it happened in my first few days with the used BMW i3 I bought a couple of years ago. Simply put: 12V batteries suck.
From time to time, I have seen Tesla fans propose that Tesla should implement better warning systems with regards to a 12V battery’s looming death. Today, one such owner put out such a request (well, it was worded more like a demand), and Tesla Chief Engineer Elon Musk responded on Twitter that he fully agreed. Perhaps he was searching out such a request, or it was just lucky that he saw it, because he also had an update to share with Tesla fans: “major software improvements” are soon going to be implemented to extend the life of the 12V batteries “& more.” Presumably, part of “& more” is a better warning system when your 12V battery is coasting on its last electrons.
Couldn’t agree more — major software improvements are already in place to extend its life & more coming
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 15, 2020
So, the approximately 1 million Tesla vehicle owners out there and the many who will join the Tesla family in the coming years can rejoice that 12V batteries will last longer in our Teslas and get other improvements in coming software updates. Yet again, it’s a wonder that Tesla vehicles get so many useful over-the-air software updates. One of the most enjoyable things about Tesla ownership is watching as your car consistently gets better. According to some people, it’s actually part of an entirely new business model. Whether you go that far or not, it is definitely a unique benefit in the automotive world, and one that makes you feel like you’re driving something other than a simple car.
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