Tesla Batteries Lose Little Capacity Over the Long Haul

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

If you’re “the automotive person” in your family or friend group, you’ve likely gotten at least a question or two about EV range and battery life. It seems that people are getting over range anxiety as automakers release vehicles with ever-longer estimates, but there are still a lot of questions about how long EV batteries last. The answer is “at least 100,000 miles” because everybody’s required to offer eight-year/100,000-mile warranties on the batteries, but it turns out that some can drive much longer than that with surprisingly little degradation. 

Tesla’s 2022 annual impact report stated that the batteries in the Model S sedan and Model X SUV lost 12 percent of their capacity after powering the vehicles for 200,000 miles. Many of us switch cars more frequently than that, but Tesla believes the 200,000-mile mark is the average lifespan for a car in the U.S., while it’s around 150,000 miles in Europe.

Though mileage has a notable impact on battery life, age also plays a role. That means a ten-year-old low-mileage car might have more battery wear than a three-year-old car with the same miles. Tesla said it hadn’t evaluated its newer battery chemistries yet, so we’ll have to wait for that data.

While the federal government requires an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, California requires 10 years or 150,000 miles. The Model S and X get eight-year/150,000-mile warranties, but the Model 3 RWD only gets 100,000 miles. Others get 120,000 miles, and Tesla notes that the battery could be replaced if it falls below 70 percent capacity during that time.

[Image: Tesla]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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3 of 43 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Apr 27, 2023

    "If you’re “the automotive person” in your family or friend group"

    Is this why people sit far away from me at Thanksgiving gatherings? 😉

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Apr 27, 2023

    I think there will be great used opportunity for those who want to risk long term repairs/issues and gamble with around $20K for their admission to a '15-17 Model S. Unlike similar premium offerings, this is driving a laptop with more hardware to contend with and you can't just replace the mobo when it won't POST, at least AFAIK. If somehow in the future the hacker community could get late model Model S examples to the point where an enterprising person could own one out of warranty and make electronic repairs/get parts you may see me with one despite the limited use case.

    • Luke42 Luke42 on Apr 28, 2023

      I would love to see F/OSS Tesla software stafk. As a Linux guy, that sounds like my idea of a good time.

      However, as an engineering manager, I'm also keenly aware of how much I work that would be.