Teslas are designed to last a very long time, with minimal battery degradation over many years. In some cases, it might be necessary to replace the battery after the warranty has expired. Here we will look into how much it will actually cost you both before and after the warranty expires.
In the first 100,000 or so miles, a Tesla battery will cost nothing to replace. After that, it will cost around $156 (£122) per kilowatt-hour to replace. With Teslas having 50kWh batteries and up, this could mean $8,300 (£6,500) and upwards, though this will fall considerably in years to come.
Below is a table which shows the cost* of replacing any battery in a Tesla. Each Tesla model has different battery size options, therefore we have provided the estimated cost per battery size.
|Battery Size||Cost (2020)||Cost (2024)||Cost (2030)|
*Figures exclude labour costs. Got a different size battery? Use our Tesla Battery Replacement Cost Calculator.
Batteries on Teslas are very like the engine on a fossil-fuel-powered (ICE, or internal combustion engine) car. They will degrade from regular use yet are the most expensive component of the machine. Like the ICE car engine, this is because the batteries are the component under most strain in the vehicle’s lifespan with charging and discharging ultimately degrading their lives. The more you use it the less it can be used in future.
However, as will be discussed in this article, Tesla is looking to build cars capable of million-mile lives. As technology improves so newer Teslas will last a lot longer and ultimately the cost of a new battery will be less of a factor to consider in buying a new or used machine.
Ultimately good ‘battery hygiene’ will extend the life of your Tesla battery and we look at some tips and tricks to maximise the lifespan of the battery at the end.
Elon Musk and the Model 3
In response to a question on Twitter, Elon Musk said that currently batteries are designed to last a minimum of 300,000 miles (483,000km) and a pack should cost between $5,000-$7,000 (£3,900 to £5,000).
This firstly means that the battery should not degrade sufficiently to be replaced for a very long time. Most ICE cars are in the scrapyard before 200,000 miles (322,000km), and Tesla are working on their cars being in good working condition well beyond that mileage.
That should mean that unless you’re keen to get a new car regularly to keep up with the Joneses you would generally not have to buy a new battery pack at all until it has done a third more mileage than you would scrap an ICE car.
Tesloop Tesla Taxis
Tesla is very good with its customers. Tesloop, a Southern California Tesla taxi company have recently announced that their oldest car has hit 400,000 miles (644,000km) with two changes of battery.
The company stated, “Battery degradation over the course of the first 194,000 miles was ~6% with multiple supercharges a day to 95-100%, instead of the recommended 90-95%.” The next battery had a fault so was replaced for free 130,000 miles later.
Tesloop’s Model X90D hit 300,000 miles (483,000km) in 1.75 years and had degradation of just 10%. That means the car was living up to Musk’s claims in his tweet above. The taxi company is almost a remote testbed for Tesla, showing just how little impact hard driving can have on their machines.
New Teslas aren’t cheap and there is a good used market for older models as those who can afford them sell them on to those who can’t. You could well be someone who buys used, and in that case, may get a high mileage older one.
Batteries are made up of cells that have individual lifespans and as such break down unevenly. That’s why Musk referred to the packs – they are modules of cells that together form the battery. Per pack, you would see a cost of roughly £3,900-£5,000 ($5,000-$7,000).
Considering it a Tesla Model 3, 50-kilowatt-hour battery unit costs in the region of $7,800 (£7,000) to manufacture, you would see a lower cost in replacing a pack than you would the whole battery.
The Million Mile Car
It’s telling that in his tweet, Musk said that the cars should be capable of a million miles (1.6 million km) before scrapping – that’s five times the lifespan of a typical ICE car. That would mean in theory you could end up replacing the battery three times should you keep a car on the road for that long.
Typical annual mileage for a UK family car is in the region of 7,600 miles (12,230km) a year. That would mean the Tesla car would last 131.5 years! A company car will do 17,500 miles (28,000km) a year, with the Tesla lasting 57 years.
Replacing the battery in the first 100,000 – 150,000 miles (161,000-241,000km) is usually free thanks to the Tesla warranties, and these apply to used Teslas as well.
According to the Tesla website:
- Tesla Model S and X are warrantied up to 150,000 miles or eight years
- Model 3 Standard or Standard Range Plus up to 100,000 miles or eight years
- Model 3 Long Range or Performance are 120,000 miles or eight years.
The batteries will be replaced for free when they fall below 70% capacity in this period.
Used Tesla Warranty
Used Teslas that are within the original warranty period come with a warranty that effectively allows the user the remnants of the new car warranty.
- Model S and X cars that are under four years old and 50,000 miles are given a used car warranty of another four years and 50,000 miles. Those over four years old but under six years and over 50,000 miles are given a warranty of two years or 100,000 miles.
- Model 3s are warranted the remnants of their new vehicle warranty.
In the case of used cars, therefore, you do not need to worry about a new pack until the car hits around 100,000 miles (161,000km) or so.
Essentially while it is unlikely you will need to replace the battery within 300,000 miles you won’t pay in the first 100,000 should it degrade significantly.
The Constant Fall in Cost Per kWh
The next thing to consider is that the cost of batteries is falling every year. Measured in cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh), Bloomberg New Energy Foundation (Bloomberg NEF) forecast that the cost of electric car batteries is set to fall from 2019’s $156 per kWh (£122) to $100 (£78) per kWh by 2024 and then to $61 (£49) per kWh by 2030, or roughly £4.80 ($6.20) per kWh per year. Though this is interesting, this is the cost of manufacture so you need to add things like re-sale markup and VAT/Sales Tax to the price you will pay per kWh.
For the rest of this section, we will just use the Bloomberg NEF figures as they are solid and we can’t accurately estimate what they would retail for including VAT/Sales Tax.
Based on projected 2024 prices a Tesla Model 3, 50kWh battery will cost in the region of $5,000 (£3,900). In 2030 the same battery pack will cost $3,050 (£2,384). If you buy a new Tesla Model 3 in 2020 and did more than the 100,000 mile warrantied mileage in four years – a big ask as we have seen so far – then it is conceivable that you will end up paying less than £5,000 ($6,000) including labour.
On a Model S or X, 85kWh battery the battery cost would amount to £6,600 for the entire battery pack in 2024 but fall to £4,054 in 2030 – by 2030 you’ll still be unlucky to pay more than £5,000 ($8441) including installation as we will discuss later.
Though there are variables in what could impact the economy or cost (no one imagined the coronavirus would cause China’s factories to go into mass shutdown!) the overall trend is for demand to significantly increase, supply to meet that demand and for technology to drive the prices down.
Manufacturing technology isn’t the only driver either – energy density is increasing in batteries as demand for lighter and more powerful battery designs leads battery chemists to seek ever better chemistries that can pack more power per kilo. Reduced mass per kWh is leading to a cheaper price per kWh as well.
What Does Battery Replacement Involve?
No matter how cheap a component is, if it takes time to remove or install then this is going to add to the costs of a service visit to replace the component.
Tesla batteries sit in the floor of the cars. Contrary to popular belief this does not make the battery harder to access. Tesla has made it extremely easy to access and service batteries.
Discussions on Tesla forums suggest that battery access and replacement can take less than half an hour with the right tools and equipment. This would suggest that other than the retail cost of the new Tesla battery there will be minimal labour costs in taking it out, putting in a new one and wiring that into the system.
If we assume that the Tesla mechanic charges £50 ($60) including VAT/Sales Tax for the switchover then this isn’t going to hike the price of replacing a Tesla battery much beyond what you are paying for the battery itself.
Good Battery Hygiene
If you look after your Tesla then you will be less likely to require a replacement battery in the first place. As a general rule, EV batteries are better off long term if you only charge them on a Level 1 or a Level 2 charger. You can theoretically charge them to 80% overnight on a Level 2 charger that retails for around £1,000 ($1,200) including fitting.
Tesla’s website shows that on a 16.5kWh home charger you can put in around 40 miles for every hour you charge it, while at the mid-range, a 7.4kW charger this can typically give between 19-27 miles (30-43km) of charge per hour.
The video below shows that by partially charging and discharging your battery you can extend its life considerably. The research it looked at suggested that by completely emptying the battery and recharging to full you might get 150,000 miles. By charging from part empty to full then you can at least double that overall distance to more than 300,000 miles.
Regular Fast Charging
Regular fast charging is not recommended by Tesla. This heats up the battery and long term can cause battery degradation through effectively overworking it.
Charging to 95%
The only way to get a full charge at a Tesla Supercharger is to put the vehicle in ‘Trip Mode’ where it is allowed to go beyond 80% in a charge. If you regularly put the vehicle in Trip Mode then it will take the full charge but you will reduce the overall lifespan of the battery.
How Much Charge do you Really Need?
Given these factors, it, therefore, makes sense to charge the car at home for the number of miles you will need the next day. The average return commute in the UK is around 30 miles or as little as an hour on a home charger. Add in school runs and the odd errand and you may see a ‘whopping’ 50 miles (80km) of driving a day or 2-3 hours’ charging at home.
Given that the realistic range in miles of a typical Tesla battery is over 200 miles, you won’t generally need to use a fast charger at all, or even completely drain and recharge the battery in any given week.
Everyone does a road trip of 200 miles (322km) plus every once in a while. The Tesla Supercharger network is in place for that to happen. One of the arguments that you as an electric car owner will have overcome in buying a Tesla is this idea of ‘range anxiety’ where even though your immediate territory is no more than 30 miles wide you have a fear that you might in any week suddenly have to drive 500 miles!
Charging all you need on a trickle charge is, therefore, all you need, and this is good for the battery in the long term too.
What This All Means
You won’t have to pay a penny to replace a Tesla battery in the first 100,000 – 150,000 miles (161,000-241,000km) of the car’s life thanks to the Tesla warranty on batteries. After that the longer you keep your Tesla in good order the less it will cost thanks to the gradual fall in battery prices over the coming years.
If you look after your Tesla battery in the way the company suggests then there is every chance you could see 300,000 miles of use before needing to replace it. Judging by the experience of Tesla owners this might mean that you only need 3-4 batteries in over 130 years of owning the same car. That could mean your children replace it once and then their children replace it, and then their own children another pack!
Considering there is every chance that no one will be using private cars in even 50 years time thanks to automation, that might ultimately mean that the car is either a museum piece or scrapped long before its useful life ends.