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How Much Does a Tesla Model S Battery Pack Cost You? We do the Math

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Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack

Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack

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Yesterday Tesla Motors Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Ownership Experience George Blankenship wrote an update on the upcoming Model S electric sedan on the company blog.

Alongside an update on the alpha testing of Tesla’s much anticipated seven seat sedan, Blankenship outlined the firm’s Model S rollout plans for 2012/13 and the expected price customers will pay for its 160, 230 and 300 mile per charge versions.

Which leads us to an interesting discovery. In the Tesla Model S at least, a mile of extra range is equivalent to $143, at least in end consumer price.

The price the consumer pays for a 300 mile range battery pack? Using back-of-a napkin, we think it’s somewhere around $42,860.

How did we come to this conclusion? Let us talk you through the very rough, very unscientific math.

According to Blankenship, the U.S. base Model S complete with a 160 mile battery pack weighs in at $57,400 before any federal tax credits are applied.  Increasing the range to 230 miles would result in a price “around $10,000  more”.  The top of the range 300 mile battery pack would increase the cost again by $10,000.

So for every 70 mile increase in range, the price to a Model S customer increases by $10,000.

To find the price per mile or range increase, divide $10,000 by 70. That gives us a very rough ballpark figure of $142.86 per mile.

Of course, the calculations aren’t quite as simple as we’ve just done. Other factors like power circuitry and battery management systems contribute to the overall cost of the battery pack and an increased range.  

What it doesn’t tell us of course is the increase price Tesla pays for the additional range, only the end consumer price increase.

But it does illustrate a chilling thought: every single one of the first 1000 Model S “Signature Series” rolling off the production line in 2012 will feature a battery pack which is responsible for over half of the car’s sticker price.  In fact, if you use our very rough math the battery pack in the 300 mile Signature Series will be 55% of the cost of the car.

Which gets us thinking.  

Battery packs are bound to drop in price in the coming years. If Tesla offers an upgrade route for battery packs then perhaps the smart move would be to buy a smaller range Model S for now, upgrading to a larger range battery pack when the cost per mile has dropped significantly.

Then again, the alluring 300 mile model blows every other electric car on the market today away. If you want the long range, perhaps the premium is worth it to never have to suffer range anxiety, or fill up with gasoline again. But if your daily drive is never more than 160 miles we can think of several fun things the saved $20,000 from not buying the 300 mile model could pay for.

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Comments (22)
  1. It's awesome that people who need a 300-mile range have an EV option, but people who don't need it should save their money. It's just dumb to buy a battery pack you don't really need. In addition to the extra expense, the extra weight will lower the efficiency of the car every mile you drive it.
    Tesla Roadster owners who are serious about performance want a smaller battery pack: less weight means a quicker, more efficient car.
     
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  2. "the battery pack in the 300 mile Signature Series will be 55% of the cost of the car."
    A loaded Versa 1.8 SL is $13,910, and the Leaf SL is $33,720...so the 24 kWh pack in the Leaf around 55% of the cost too!
    The Brammo Empulse motorcycle also offers three pack sizes. From this you can calculate the cost of the battery packs, and the bike alone. The bike is about $3,995..the cost of a comparable Kawasaki 250 Ninja. The 10 kWh pack adds $10,000.
    So why are you surprised?
     
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  3. I did some back of the napkin calculations as well. The Model S is a full sized sedan. I priced the daily rate to rent a full sized sedan from a major car rental company. With fees and everything, it is around $55/day. So with the $10,000 you save getting a 230 mile pack you could rent a car for long trips for 180 days. With the $20,000 you save getting the 160 mile pack, you could rent a car for a year!
     
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  4. @kgb:
    Well! that smashes my secret. When the distance is too great to drive my Leaf, I will rent a car...about four times a year; maybe a Tesla.
     
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  5. @Warren - Just to clarify. A loaded Versa is not $13.9K. The base automatic is $14.9K. AND the "loaded" Versa does not have a Navigation system like the Standard Leaf has; not to mention communication with all chargers in the area, automatic messaging to your phone, etc. Two very different cars.
     
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  6. To refine this highly speculative math exercise even further: Tesla promises 245 miles of range from the 53KWH pack in it's Roadster. This works out at about 4.6 miles per KWH. So the extra 70 miles would require about 15KWH of extra battery capacity at $10K works out at about $666/KWH MSRP. Of course MSRP is not necessarily an accurate reflection of cost but when Elon Musk boasted that batteries would be dirt cheap in "the future" he probably didn't have the first gen Model S battery in mind. On the upside: the 300 miles pack will cure most of your range anxiety at a cost that's still $25k lower than a Fisker Karma. This confirms again my sneaking suspicion that the whole range extenders paradigm isn't a very cost effective way to solve the EV range issue.
     
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  7. "divide $10,000 by 70 miles . . $142.86 per mile".
    Think about your calculation. The $142 is for 70 miles, which would only be for the 1st 70 miles you drive. After that it would be free to drive because you paid all the $10,000 in 70 miles.
    "Which gets us thinking."
    I do not think you are thinking in a correct way about your calculation. We drive the whole year. It would be better to divide $10,000 by the estimated miles of the life of the battery pack. Say it might last 8 years (conservative). An average person drives about 12,000/ year x 8 years life = 96,000 miles. So a better calculation is
    divide $10,000 by 96,000 miles = .1041.
    So 10 cents a mile extra for the battery pack.
     
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  8. "divide $10,000 by 70 miles . . $142.86 per mile".
    Think about your calculation. The $142 is for 70 miles, which would only be for the 1st 70 miles you drive. After that it would be free to drive because you paid all the $10,000 in 70 miles.
    "Which gets us thinking."
    I do not think you are thinking in a correct way about your calculation. We drive the whole year. It would be better to divide $10,000 by the estimated miles of the life of the battery pack. Say it might last 8 years (conservative). An average person drives about 12,000/ year x 8 years life = 96,000 miles. So a better calculation is
    divide $10,000 by 96,000 miles = .1041.
    So 10 cents a mile extra for the battery pack.
     
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  9. Or,
    go for the 300 mile range (about 70kWh storage).
    On the days when you only drive 100 miles, plug in the car at the office or your energy guzzling neighbors house.
    Provide your stored energy (from your solar panels of course) to shave the top off their electricity bill which at Consolidated Edison could be around $.36 per kWh.
    Every 100 hours @ $.36 earns $36.00 to help your neighbor and pay for batteries and solar panels. Wait does that make you a utility, am I gay?
    Don't ask, don't tell!
     
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  10. If you do have a 160-mile regular journey without charging facilities en-route, please note that the 230 mile pack is much better suited to your needs. Using 100% of the charge on a regular basis will accelerate the aging of the cells, which will lose capacity anyway as they age. Without using "Range Mode" to access the top and bottom 10% of the battery, the 160-mile pack is suited to around 128 [ideal] miles between charges. Still suitable for most people, but you don't want to pay $50k for a car and be disappointed by it...
     
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  11. Seems to me that Tesla once said the battery could be changed out in 10 min or so and that they would establish changing stations along the nations interstates and in some cities. That makes battery leasing a no brainer Take away battery cost ant the first Model S's will ba around $38,500, a reasonable price to pay for a sedan now-a-days. To propel this beastie we require a battery pack and electricity. This equates to a gas fired vehicle acquisition plus fuel. Assume your gas using vehicle gets 25 mpg and you pay $4.00/gal and go 15K miles per year you pay $2400/yr just to move. So lets pay Tesla $180/mo for the 300 mile range battery and pay Tesla $75.00 for a battery changeout on a trip and charge elsewhere the rest of the time. Personally I could go for something like that for a car that is that nice. BTW does anyone know if the 300 mile battery is flat after propelling the vehicle 300 miles and is the range estimate includes using the heater or AC for the trip?
     
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  12. We did a calculation of the Tesla S for taxi operation in Germany. It does not matter how much it cost, it will be cost effective if you don't take the infrastructure into account.
    I know this is not fair, but EVs are getting cheaper, and if you pay divide the infrastructure with many taxis, it will be cost effective too.
    read my post at: http://www.green-and-energy.com/blog/tesla-s-the-perfect-ev-taxi/
     
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  13. does the extra battery weight of the 300 mile pack have any performance impacts? 0-60 time, handling... seem like there would be some difference. in addition to the cost difference, this could be a factor for some buyers.
     
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  14. May be Tesla has accounted the "price drop"-effect into the price and made the 230 mile model less expensive than it should be, compared to the cost-price and the 300mile model even less. In order to delude us, they could have made the difference such that the price seems to be linear with the battery size. Unless you have inside intel, you can never know.
     
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  15. I find is amusing that some apparently think the Tesla experience will be cheaper if they lease the batteries and use battery swapping stations. The cost of the lease would depend, obviously, on the size of the battery pack being leased but, regardless, would add such enormous overhead that the consumer is certain to pay appreciably more for those batteries using this strategy. I see, once again, that some think of affordability in terms of what they can actually pay each month, rather than the actual cost of the item. And what happens to all those swapping stations when batteries get 50% cheaper (which should require about 6 more years).
     
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  16. It would cost more but it would allow the batteries to be charged via solar, charge during peak sunlight times, instead of going on the electrical grid.
     
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  17. All of this newfound knowledge about battery costs
    proves one thing to me : that Musk knows exactly what he's doing in terms of strategy - he's building to compete against high end sedans like the E class and 528 series BMW, where large profit margins exist and
    where the cost of his competitors' drivetrains are so huge that he can justify the cost of his battery pack. I note that the Model S will, at the very least, equal the performance of the top of the line 5 series, which costs essentially the same as his 300 mile model. And it looks a whole lot more attractive.
    The Model S blows away all but the most expensive 5 series models in every conceivable category, and is actually faster (and lighter) than that one as well.
     
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  18. There was some press about Tesla where a quote said that the 300 mile battery was not physically bigger, it was a different, more expensive chemistry.
    That's plausible, I'll see if I can find the story again. They also said they would support industry standard chargers, so every Leaf sold is a plus for Tesla or other up-market electrics.
     
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  19. To calculate the usage of a battery you need the life of a battery. If a battery pack is good for 7 years then you start figuring out what you will drive in 7 years.let's say u drive 15,000 miles per year x 7 years 105,000 miles over the average life of a battery pack. now that only relates to less than 10 cents a mile over the life of a battery pack and at $ 10,000 increments, it seems like the max 300 mile battery pack is well worth the investment.
     
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  20. Could be a great investment. Unless your driving patterns allow you do drive the 150,000 miles with a 160 mile pack.

    Driving 150,000 miles over a seven year time period is 59 miles per day. Not a stretch for 160 mile pack, even if there is significant loss of range over time. The pack would have to be able to withstand 937 full charges, if 160 miles range were maintained the entire time.
     
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  21. Dunno about you guys, but it's clear to me that we need a breakthrough in battery technology.

    I'd love to see a program where every university doing battery-related science is encouraged to double the number of PHD candidates/fellows on board, these slots being funded by uncle.
     
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  22. Tesla should just sell the cars, and rent charged fuel packs at gas stations. This way they can charge the electric packs off of solar during the day, and rent them out as people need them. It'd be a great option for those that wanna support solar. And at the same time get rid of the whole range issue altogether.
     
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