Buying a new car is generally a really big expense for most people. And, after the purchase, there is ongoing maintenance to pay for as well. But what about electric vehicles? How many miles will a Tesla last and when should you expect to replace the battery in a Tesla?
How long Tesla batteries last
According to SolarReviews, the current batteries in Teslas are designed to last for 300,000 to 500,000 miles. After that point, the battery will likely need to be replaced. SolarReviews points out that a Tesla battery might still work beyond 500,000 miles, although with a reduced range per charge. There is also talk that Tesla is working on a battery that will last for one million miles.
The average Tesla battery degrades about 10 percent after 160,000 miles, which means it’s still at 90 percent of its peak performance even after that many miles. Recharging does reduce a battery’s ability to hold a charge, especially if a full charge is needed daily. Most people won’t need to charge that completely though.
Musk has said the Model 3’s body and drive unit should be able to last for a million miles, according to Electrek. Since Teslas haven’t been around for very long, there isn’t much data on how long Tesla vehicles are actually able to last.
High-mileage Tesla models
Not that many Teslas have needed battery replacements so far, so exact replacement prices are unknown. Elon Musk has said it will cost between $5,000 and $7,000 for a new Model 3 battery module (not the entire battery pack). The Model 3 has four battery modules in a battery pack, while the Model S and Model X have up to 16.
Tesla car batteries are covered by their warranty for eight years or 120,000 to 150,000 miles, depending on which comes first. Model 3 and Model Y Teslas are covered up to 120,000 miles (or eight years), while the Model S and Model X are covered up to 150,000 miles (or eight years). However, the battery will likely do fine beyond either eight years or 150,000 miles.
In 2019, Electrek followed up with a Tesla Model 3 owner who had put 100,000 miles on his car in two years. His general maintenance in that time would have been just tire replacements if he hadn’t done things like drive through a stream or slam a door in high winds. His max range did reduce by about 2.5 percent. He mainly used DC fast-charging, which isn’t the best for the battery, but his charge rarely went below 10 percent or above 60 percent.
Clean Technica included a report from an owner whose Tesla Model S passed 200,000 miles. He spent very little on maintenance, even with his car out of warranty. He reported spending $1,050 in the first 100,000 miles and $5,415 total in the first 200,000 miles. He replaced the regular 12V car batteries twice but not the Tesla batteries. He also calculated that he’d saved $20,000 when comparing gas prices to charging prices.
If cars lasted for 500,000 miles
It would be a great game changer if cars were able to routinely last for 500,000 miles. There are likely Teslas out there that are around that mileage now. One close example is a Model S operated by Tesloop, a Tesla-only shuttle service in Southern California. Its Model S reached 400,000 in three years, according to Electrek. It cost about $19,000 for maintenance in that time. Tesloop estimates it would have spent $88,500 to maintain a Lincoln Town Car or Mercedes GLS class over the same time period.
Interestingly that Model S needed its battery pack replaced twice during the 400,000 miles. The first battery pack was replaced at 194,000 miles after a 6 percent degradation. Tesla found that Tesloop had been supercharging to 100 percent multiple times a day. The second replacement was at 324,000 miles after a 22 percent degradation due to a problem with the battery pack. Other Tesloop Teslas still have their original battery packs after 300,000 miles.
While the Tesla Model 3 body may be designed to last for a million miles, owners will likely need to replace the battery pack two or three times during the course of that many miles.