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EV Battery Replacement Costs? Meh — Tesla Batteries Designed To Outlast Their Vehicles

Ev Battery Replacement Costs Meh Tesla Batteries Designed To Outlast Their Vehicles

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One of the bigger concerns many consumers have had about buying electric cars is that the big batteries that power the cars will need to be replaced after a few years, at very high cost. That may have been a legit concern initially, especially because without electric cars that had been around for years, no one could really know how long their batteries would last in real life. Also, some automakers did have issues with battery degradation — well, Nissan did because it didn’t include battery management systems.

However, Tesla pointed out at its recent shareholder meeting that there’s no such worry with its batteries. The company says that its batteries are designed to last longer than its cars. As evidence, Tesla showed a graph of Model 3 and Model Y battery degradation up through 200,000 miles (322,000 km) of driving.

If you assume 15,000 miles of driving a year (the US average), that’s over 13 years of driving and your battery still has more than 80% of its original capacity. If you assume 10,000 miles of driving a year (our family’s average), that’s 20 years of driving and your battery still has more than 80% of its original capacity. Actually, Tesla indicates that the batteries should retain a full 85% of their original capacity after 200,000 miles of driving.

Of course, this graph is from Tesla, but it should be a very similar story for other electric cars and their batteries these days. Much has gone into improving batteries, protecting them, and making sure they last a long time.

Naturally, there still can be some batteries that lose more than 80% of range in under 200,000 miles, but those would be odd, highly uncommon cases.

It’s also worth noting, especially for new EV owners, that your battery will take a degradation hit and lose a chunk of range early on. The first year or two of driving will probably see it knocked down by about 10%. It’s how batteries work.

I also find it interesting that there’s more variation and “jumpiness” in the degradation norms and estimate further along the graph. It’s not the greatest divergence in estimates, but it’s clearly visible that things get less steady and predictable.

The only other thing that jumps out to me while looking at this graph is that Tesla previously aimed to have its vehicles last 1 million miles. Naturally, 200,000 is just one-fifth of 1 million. I’m curious to see what Model 3 and Model Y battery degradation will be at 1 million miles, if we ever have vehicles that do last that long. However, I’m also not super confident that many Teslas will last 1 million miles. Even if you used 20,000 miles a year as the annual estimate, that would be 50 years of driving. If you used our average of 10,000 miles a year, that would be 100 years! So, yes, maybe it’s best to just drop that 1 million miles target or estimate and stick with a more reasonable vehicle lifespan. In that case, it seems that Tesla is right to point out that its batteries should outlast the cars their powering — and then can be recycled or reused for new purposes!


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