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Electric Car Battery Life – What to Expect

Tesla Model S battery life over mileage
Tesla Model S battery life over mileage. Not a bad trendline, if you ask us.

Considering a Tesla Model S or other electric car? Whoa, what will you do when the battery finally dies?

Yes, we’ve all heard the arguments filed against electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. The most famous of electric cars might be the Tesla Model S, the first car to boast any appreciable range in a decidedly non-conomy car package. Usually, people argue that “it takes forever to charge electric cars.” True, it takes longer, but charge times are getting shorter. Even Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk suggests that we could see five-minute electric car charging in the next few years, which would certainly put them on par with conventional and hybrid vehicles.

Then, another argument that car opponents use is that “lithium-ion batteries,” such as the 60 kWh or 85 kWh packs used in the Tesla Model S, well “they don’t last forever,” and it’ll cost you a fortune for replacement. To put minds at ease, Tesla Motors now offers a warranty eight years unlimited miles on the 85 kWh battery pack, or 125,000 miles on the 60 kWh battery pack. Other car manufacturers offers similar policies. That sounds like a great idea, but is it really necessary? What do the statistics show?

Some people on the Netherlands Tesla Forum have been meticulously, more or less, keeping track of their mileage in various versions of the Tesla Model S. We love real-world numbers, and they’re telling!

According to the data, the first 50,000 miles of driving result in a range drop of about 6%. After that, every 30,000 miles or so, there’s another 1% drop in range. This means that, after about 100,000 miles, or almost nine years of driving, the average Tesla Model S 85 kWh will have lost just 7% of its range, or 251 miles out of a possible 270 miles. Are we really arguing about 7% loss in range, compared to untold emissions reduced and minimal car “refueling” costs?

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  1. “will have lost just 7% of its range, or 251 miles out of a possible 270 miles”
    Err, no, it lost 19 miles out of 270, not 251, which is the remaining autonomy.
    But the loss after 9 years is probably more than 7%, batteries age too and we don’t have real-life data about that long. The type of charging plays a role too, supercharging probably reduces battery life expectancy a bit faster. Or it could be that Dutch electrons from windmills are easier on the batteries… 😉

    Does Tesla battery toolset includes a detailed diagnosis for each individual battery or rack? Given the huge number of these, there will always be some batteries that perform less than others as time passes, it would be great to identify and replace those if possible, instead of waiting for the whole thing to degrade too much as a whole.


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