You may be concerned that, like the battery in your smartphone or laptop, an electric vehicle (EV) battery will lose capacity after just a couple of years of use. The good news is that the vast majority of Tesla batteries last much longer than that, and we’ll explain why.
You can approach the question of battery life in two ways: How long is battery life, and how long does a Tesla battery last on a single charge? We will address the previous question first.
A Tesla battery should last decades
Tesla (and Elon Musk) claims that its EV batteries can last between 300,000 and 400,000 miles before they die and need to be replaced. Data compiled by the research firm NimbleFins seems to back this up: A study of 557 Tesla vehicles by the company showed an average of 90% battery capacity even with 150,000 miles on the odometer.
Most people drive about 40 miles a day and about 273 miles a week, according to car insurance writer Liz Jenson. At that rate, it would take someone between the ages of 21 and 35 to put their Tesla’s battery through enough cycles that it needed a replacement. Obviously, driving habits vary from person to person, so this is a ballpark figure, but it’s still a long time.
That’s not to say Teslas never need battery replacement. If the lithium-ion battery pack is faulty, it may not be able to hold a charge or may lose charging capacity at a much faster rate than normal. They can also catch fire with quite catastrophic results if the battery sustains damage that causes a short circuit or if it has a defect that causes the battery to go thermally uncontrolled. But those defects are rare and are almost always covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Tesla is no exception here either. Most electric car manufacturers cover their batteries for 8 to 10 years and 100,000 to 200,000 miles.
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How many miles can a Tesla battery travel on a single charge?
A car’s range, or how far it can go on a single charge, is the most common concern among Tesla drivers and varies depending on the model they drive. At the time of this writing, all Tesla models will allow you to go over 200 miles on a single charge, with the longest range models capable of over 300.
The capacity of the battery plus the efficiency of the motor and transmission are what create this difference in range between Tesla models. The Model 3’s standard range, for example, is on the lower end of the spectrum at about 267 miles per charge, while the Model S is estimated to get 375 miles or more. The newer version of the Model S has a more efficient powertrain and a larger battery, giving it a longer range.
Teslas also have larger battery packs than other electric cars with shorter ranges on the more affordable end of the spectrum. The Model S Plaid, for example, has a usable battery capacity of around 95kWh, while the Nissan Leaf has a 39kWh battery pack.
Looking back at the average 40-mile-a-day driving figure, a single charge is more than adequate to get you moving. That range covers even commuters traveling twice that distance, and they likely also have a place to charge their vehicle while it’s parked at work or a nearby charging station.
Driving habits also affect mileage. Extended highway driving drains EV batteries faster, no matter what model you drive, and extreme weather conditions require additional power for climate control and battery management, which also takes its toll. Calendar aging also gradually decreases charging capacity over the life of the battery, but will not take a significant toll until near the end of its useful life.
Long-distance travel still requires some planning, but Tesla’s charging infrastructure has become quite plentiful in the US, so commuting shouldn’t be a concern. The bottom line is that even the oldest Tesla batteries are pretty reliable and will probably last for years, probably as long as you end up driving a traditional gas-powered car.
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