If the average lifespan of an internal combustion engine is estimated to be about 10 years or 200,000 miles, how does a Tesla’s battery life stack up? How long does a Tesla battery really last?
In today’s post, we aren’t talking about driving range and how long a single charge lasts. Instead, we’ll look at the projected lifespan of Tesla’s vehicle battery packs and how well they hold their charge over time.
To really dig into this subject, we need to take a quick look at how Tesla has changed its battery tech over the years, along with some basic battery degradation rates and mileage estimates for how long a Tesla battery lasts by model. Afterwards, we’ll look into what the Tesla battery warranty covers, how to check for battery degradation, and what all this Tesla battery life talk means for buying a used Tesla.
Tesla Battery History
Ready for some bullet-point history? Good, since we don’t want to camp out here today (maybe another time, another blog post). Here it goes:
- Tesla Roadster: contained the ESS (Energy Storage System) made up of 18650 format battery cells (think laptop battery…well, lots of them: 6,831 lithium ion cells to be exact).
- Model S: also made up of 18650 format battery cells, but built into the bottom of the car and with a better coolant system than the Roadster.
- Model X: Pretty darn close in design to the Model S
- Model 3: A new form factor was used in the Model 3: the 2170 lithium ion cell format (basically, they got bigger)
- Model Y: Pretty much the same design as the Model 3.
- The future: Bigger, cheaper, better batteries (tabless, with reduced degradation due to heat, using Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) instead of Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC), etc).
While the battery pack design, chemistry, and battery cell profile is highly relevant to battery degradation rates, etc., the point we’d like to make is that Tesla’s battery packs have changed over time and are still changing. They don’t all have the same degradation rate. But you knew that, right? Moving on…
So, How Long Does a Tesla Battery Actually Last?
Here’s the thing: Tesla is a young company that’s pioneering new tech. While they do an excellent job of collecting data (you can’t really manufacture a car that’s basically a computer on wheels without it), they still haven’t been gathering that data long enough to answer this question definitively for all of their vehicles. This holds especially true for the Model 3 and Model Y, both having only been on the road for a few years now. However, we do have several years of data from the Model S and Model X battery packs to sort through.
Tesla claims that the battery pack should outlast the car itself, and they estimate that the life of most cars tends to be around 200,000 miles (though we think Toyota might argue the point, as would most Tesla owners). With these numbers in mind, Tesla’s warranty includes a clause for retaining 70% battery capacity over the warranty period (typically between 100,000-150,000 miles).
However, Tesloop, a taxi service in California that maintains a fleet of Teslas and really packs on the mileage, has reported that a Model X in their fleet has only lost around 10% of capacity over 300,000 miles. 90% capacity is well within Tesla’s battery warranty terms for degradation (fun fact: while 300,000 miles would put a newer Model X outside its battery warranty, Tesloop’s ‘Rex’ is grandfathered into the unlimited mileage warranty clause…if Tesla hasn’t revoked it after changing their warranty to exclude vehicles purchased for commercial use).
We’ll go into a more in-depth discussion in a minute, but a basic Tesla Battery life estimate for each model can been seen in the following charts:
|Model S & X||Data|
|Average Degradation Rate Per 100,000 Miles||4%|
|Miles Before 20% Degradation||500,000|
|Years Before 20% Degradation||15+|
|Model 3 & Y||Data|
|Average Degradation Rate Per 100,000 Miles||5%|
|Miles Before 20% Degradation||400,000|
|Years Before 20% Degradation||10-15|
These numbers are just a broad estimate based on data that we’ve been reviewing. Obviously, battery capacity retention for Teslas will have more factors involved that affect this number, such as driving temperatures, owner habits, fast charging frequency, etc. But for an overall look at how Tesla batteries either have been performing or are expected to perform, let’s take a look at some of Tesla’s battery capacity retention rates by model:
How Long Does a Tesla Model S Battery Last?
Over the years, the Model S has shown a battery degradation of less than 20% over 300,000 miles from Tesla owner reports on Plug-In America (manufacturing years 2012-2019). If these numbers continued at a constant rate, a Tesla could reach 450,000 miles before reaching the 30% degradation that Tesla deems unacceptable under its Battery and Drive Unit Warranty (450,000 miles is 3x the warranty period for mileage; for more details, see the warranty section below).
Tesla’s own stats seem to concur, with data released in their 2020 Impact Report putting the Model S battery packs at a loss of only 10% capacity over 200,000 miles.
Even more encouraging, Elon stated at one point that lab tests gave 80% battery retention at 500,000 miles, or about 4% degradation per 100,000 miles. If the average driver only travels about 13,500 miles per year, it would take almost 7.5 years to make up that mileage with less than 5% battery degradation, or 15 years with less than 10% battery degradation. Ideal circumstances are necessary, of course, but a functional battery on a Model S is theoretically possible past 20 years.
What about dropping to 50% capacity? For a 2015 Model S P85D, that’d be roughly 126 miles per charge, still a usable daily range. At only 4% degradation per 100,000 miles, could a Tesla battery actually last over a million miles with half its charge still available? We’d like to think so, but only time will tell.
This calculation doesn’t take into account the yearly degradation rate and quite a few other factors (environment, owner habits, software updates affecting range, etc), but it does boil down to the fact that a Tesla Model S battery can last a really, really long time.
Unless there’s actual damage or a defective battery assembly (like the one Tesloop received for their 2015 Model S, which Tesla replaced), most of them continue to serve their owners well past the 8-year warranty period. So, with all of that considered, it’s possible that a Tesla Model S battery lasts about 450,000 miles or longer.
How Long Does a Tesla Model X Battery Last?
Data from the Model X is a few years shorter than data from the Model S, but as the battery pack is virtually the same, it’s safe to assume similar numbers. We already mentioned Tesloop’s 2015 Model X with 300,000 miles and battery capacity degradation of about 10%; their experience fits in with the general Model X stats provided by Tesla owners on websites like Plug in America or Tesla Motors Club.
Tesla’s own data shows a 10% degradation rate over 200,000 miles for the Model X. Again, with the assumption that the average driver only travels 13,500 miles a year, that’s 10% degradation over an almost 15 year period (ideal). Like the Model S, most Model X battery packs are expected to last even longer than that while maintaining a usable charge (possibly 20+ years). Taking all of this information into account, a Tesla Model X battery appears to last 450,000 miles or more.
How Long Does a Tesla Model 3 Battery Last?
As one of Tesla’s newer, less expensive vehicle designs containing a different battery cell profile than the Model S and Model X, the Model 3’s battery pack deserves extra scrutiny over the coming years for longevity. Elon has stated that the Model 3’s battery was designed to last 300,000 to 500,000 miles (or 1,500 charging cycles). Again, if we estimate that the average driver only travels 13,500 miles in a year, that’s between 20-40 years (an overestimate, certainly, but not impossible).
In the few years of data we’ve seen so far, the Model 3’s battery degradation rate seems to hover at around 5% per 100,000 miles. That puts the Model 3’s battery life well on track with Telsa’s estimation of 300,000 to 500,000 miles of use, and probably anywhere from 10 to 20 years of reasonable use depending on how the vehicle is driven and how much battery degradation the current owner is willing to put up with. So, all-in-all, it’s reasonable to assume that a Tesla Model 3 battery lasts 300,000 to 500,000 miles.
How Long Does a Tesla Model Y Battery Last?
With only a few years of data, can we tell how long a Tesla Model Y battery may last? Since the Model Y shares close to 75% of its parts with the Model 3 and the same battery cell profile, we can probably assume similar numbers for battery degradation. With those numbers in mind, the Model Y could see the same average 5% loss of battery capacity per 100,000 miles.
So how many years could a Tesla Model Y battery last on average? With our same average driving distance per year calculation of 13,500 miles, the Model Y battery life should be between 10 to 20 years with an acceptable amount of degradation (or 300,000 to 500,000 miles depending on the vehicle variant). So, all things considered, it’s likely that a Tesla Model Y battery lasts 300,000 to 500,000 miles.
How Long is Tesla’s Battery Warranty?
Currently, Tesla’s Battery Warranty lasts for 8 years and varies in mileage between models. While we’ve covered this topic extensively in the Battery and Drive Unit section of our Ultimate Warranty Guide, the lite version is that Tesla covers battery failure and degradation due to manufacturing defects and will cover parts and labor costs to replace a battery that falls below 70% capacity before the warranty period is up. Under normal circumstances, the battery shouldn’t degrade more than 30% during the warranty period.
Before 2020, Tesla made even bigger claims about their battery life. The pre-2020 battery warranty lasted for 8 years and unlimited miles. Musk called this the “Infinite Mile Warranty,” claiming that the warranty should match Tesla’s belief in the reliability of their vehicles. They’ve since gone back to the mile-limited battery warranty structure. (For more information on Tesla warranties, check out our Ultimate Guide to Tesla Warranties here).
Here’s a breakdown of current battery warranty periods for each Tesla model and variation:
|Model||Battery Life Length||Battery Capacity Retention|
|Model S (40, 60 from 2012-2015)||8 years / 125,000 miles||N/A|
|Model S (pre-2020)||8 years / unlimited miles||N/A|
|Model S (after 2020)||8 years / 150,000 miles||minimum battery capacity retention 70%|
|Model 3 (Standard Range)||8 years / 100,000 miles||minimum battery capacity retention 70%|
|Model 3 (Performance, Long Range)||8 years / 120,000 miles||minimum battery capacity retention 70%|
|Model X (pre-2020)||8 years / unlimited miles||N/A|
|Model X (after 2020)||8 years / 150,000 miles||minimum battery capacity retention 70%|
|Model Y (Performance, Long Range)||8 years / 120,000 miles||minimum battery capacity retention 70%|
What about the Tesla Roadster battery warranty? Well, the first generation Roadster is old enough that none of the original manufacturing warranty still applies (sorry, Starman, you are on your own out there). We’re hoping to see the next gen Roadster soon, though, and we suspect it will have a similar battery warranty to the current Tesla lineup.
How Do I Check if the Battery on a Used Tesla Is Still Good?
Checking the current battery capacity on a used Tesla is easiest if you own it or have access to it, since it could require going on at least one long test drive.
Here’s a procedure for recalibrating your current range estimate:
- Discharge the battery down close to 0% (just under 10% will do, no need to risk a tow) before charging up to 100%.
- Soon after reaching a full charge, check your Tesla’s displayed battery range.
- Compare that range to the range of the vehicle when it was new (some helpful charts for range by model can be found on the Teslike website) to see if there is any significant loss of range.
This procedure should give you some insight into the health of the vehicle’s battery, but keep in mind that the range estimate is not an absolute metric. The best use for this method is to collect multiple data points over time.
There are also quite a few apps to check for Tesla battery health and track it over time (Teslafi is one popular example). If you are buying a used Tesla, it’s worth asking the owner if they’ve used any tracking apps with data you could examine.
Finally, a Tesla-certified inspection can give you an idea of the vehicle’s battery health and the assurance that everything is functioning as it should. Remember that the warranty does last for at least 8 years and over 100,000 miles in most Teslas, so this isn’t a huge necessity for owners (unless preparing for a sale). For the pre-owned Tesla buyer, though? A thorough inspection of the battery and drive unit before purchase is just good common sense, especially if the vehicle is out of warranty.
Is Battery Degradation a Consideration When Buying a Used Tesla?
While we are strong believers in the longevity of Teslas in general, we think battery degradation should be on your list of concerns when shopping for an older used Tesla, especially one out of warranty.
For the Tesla outside of warranty, if you find evidence of significant degradation (more than 30%) of battery capacity, it might be worth asking the owner a few questions, such as:
- What climate was the vehicle kept/used in? Heat can cause more rapid decline in battery capacity retention.
- How often did the owner use the Supercharger Network? Rapid charging can cause faster degradation (again, due to heat).
- Was the vehicle regularly charged to 100%? This kind of charging causes more rapid cycling of the battery and degrades it faster for Tesla’s NMC battery packs.
- How many charging cycles has the battery been through already?
If there is little evidence as to why the battery has degraded past the 30% threshold, it might be worth passing up the deal to look elsewhere (battery replacement is still pretty expensive).
Quick note: some data seems to indicate that the 90kWh battery pack may experience a more rapid degradation over time than Tesla’s other batteries. If you are considering a used Model S or Model X with a 90kWh battery pack, it would be worth your while to ask for details about the actual range of the vehicle before purchase.
For more recently-manufactured used Teslas and for Teslas still under warranty, battery degradation isn’t nearly as much of a concern. The data reported so far tells us that Teslas in general are maintaining their battery capacity remarkably well over the warranty period and beyond.
We’d like take a moment in this post to give a shout out to Gruber Motor Company in Arizona! If you don’t know, they’re pretty much the Tesla battery experts (aside from Tesla, of course) and are the worldwide independent experts on Tesla Roadster battery repair. Gruber Motor Company has done some really cool things to keep old Roadster batteries healthy and on the road. Check them out at GruberMotors.com!
So now that you’ve armed yourself with some insight into battery degradation and Tesla battery life in general, we hope you feel more confident in choosing a used Tesla for your next ride!
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