Tesla Model S Battery Life: How Much Range Loss For Electric Car Over Time? Page 2


Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, upstate New York to southern California [photo: David Noland]

Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, upstate New York to southern California [photo: David Noland]

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That translates to a range loss of only about 21 miles, from 265 to 244 miles.

The highest-mileage car in the study, which had about 52,000 miles on it, still retained about 94 percent of its battery capacity and range.

Plug-In America has also been gathering data for a range-loss study of the Model S.

Tom Saxton, its chief science officer and the author of the earlier Roadster study (he’s also a Roadster owner), reports that his preliminary results show that a Model S85 is projected to retain about 90 percent battery capacity until 86,000 miles.

Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, upstate New York to southern California [photo: David Noland]

Tesla Model S electric-car road trip, upstate New York to southern California [photo: David Noland]

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According to Saxton’s data, the S60 version, whose smaller battery must undergo more charge/discharge cycles to travel the same distance, retains 90 percent capacity to about 67,000 miles. 

The high-mileage car in the ongoing PIA study had 92,000 miles as of last summer, and still retained 92 percent of battery capacity.

Hopefully the final PIA Model S report will be issued soon. We look forward to reading it.

2014 Tesla Model S P85D, road test, Dec 2014 [photo: David Noland]

2014 Tesla Model S P85D, road test, Dec 2014 [photo: David Noland]

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Just an average

All these numbers are averages, of course; your battery degradation may vary.

It’s widely believed that always charging the battery to 100 percent will cause faster long-term battery degradation. That’s why Tesla allows owners to set their max charge level to any lesser percentage they prefer.

MORE: Tesla P85D Highlights Why EPA Range Ratings Are Inconsistent & Confusing For Electric Cars

Due to a misguided EPA testing protocol, Nissan has eliminated the option of less-than-100-percent charging in 2014 and later model Leafs. Likewise, the BMW i3 also does not offer the partial-charging option.

It’s also been speculated that heavy use of ultra-fast DC chargers, such as the Tesla Superchargers and CHAdeMO charging stations, may reduce battery life as well, though we’ve seen no definitive data on this.

Solar panels at Supercharger in Barstow, CA, during Tesla Model S road trip [photo: David Noland]

Solar panels at Supercharger in Barstow, CA, during Tesla Model S road trip [photo: David Noland]

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But all in all, the foregoing numbers suggest that, if you don’t habitually charge to 100 percent and don’t overdo the DC fast charging, the prospects for an electric car’s long-term battery capacity and range look pretty good.

I know I’m breathing easier these days. After 32,000 miles, I’ve noticed no range loss at all.

And if the Dutch projections are accurate, a Model S battery capacity loss of only six percent after 100,000 miles is something I can easily live with--and better than I expected when I bought the car.

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