Model 3 Battery Replacement Cost

Model 3 Battery Replacement Cost

Hey Tesla Crazy Fans!

after standing in a line for 2 hours and putting my $1000 down I feel sense of accomplishment greater than getting A grade in a science class. As reality sinks in, I have one question which I cant figure it out if in a long run Tesla EVs are any cheaper than gas powered super engines!!?? I get all the cool factor of tesla model 3 but any engineering brains on this thread who can help me understand long term cost of owning Tesla 3? I think it is important to get facts about following two points,

- Life of Model 3 Battery
- cost of Battery Replacement

I doubt if Tesla will be upfront about these numbers, so any scientific guesses?

Cheers & Be Cool

Red Sage ca us | July 18, 2016


There have been numerous posts with a similar subject line over the years. The responses and replies range from helpful, to informative, and from sarcastic, to scientific. I am most apt to tell folks to simply not worry about it. No one asks how long a gas tank for a BMW 320i will last, and they don't bother to inquire how much they would cost to replace either.

The problem really, is that simply by asking the questions, you are in effect presuming it will be necessary. As if it will be an involuntary, regular expense of some sort. I sincerely doubt that will be the case in practice.

Think of it this way... If the individual battery cells in your car are rated at 3,000 cycles... And driving 200 miles per day would use up one full cycle... That would come to 600,000 miles of driving. And it would take you around 8 years, and five months to manage the feat. The Average person in the US drives only around 15,000 miles per year. So, it would take most people somewhere in the area of 40 years to put that kind of extreme wear and tear on the car. Even if you did it in only 20 years, by driving 30,000 miles per year, that is a good, long while. At a likely rather outrageous 60,000 miles per year, it would take ten years to 'wear out' the battery pack, worst case. So... Don't worry about it.

topher | July 18, 2016

On the question of cost:

The answer depends very much on when. At the moment Tesla's wholesale price for battery packs is around $150 per kwh. (so around $9,000 for a complete set). By the time the model ≡ comes out, they expect that prices to be around $105 per kWh, or $6,300 for a set. After 10 years, prices should be another 40-50% lower. Additionally, it isn't clear if failure modes are likely to be in full sets, as opposed to modules, or groups of individual cells (single cells are just ignored).

On the other hand, the warranty is (likely to be) 8 years or 125,000 miles. So if the problem occurs before then, the price is covered.

Thank you kindly.

shalinv | July 18, 2016

Thanks folks for taking time to answer my question.

@Red Sage Ca Us - I think we should compare Tesla Batteries to BMW Engine life, no one would expect to replace a gas tank in life time of their car ownership. Besides that, just like iPhone batteries becomes less efficient over the time, I would expect any batteries using same architecture would be less efficient over the period of time. If true, 3k charge cycles looks very impressive though and should give enough extended life out side typical warranty.

@Topher I agree 8 year warranty would cover initial failure. If batteries fail outside warranty, 6-9k cost is bit pricy. Tesla should be as reliable as Honda or Toyota. should be able to last 200k/15 years.... what you think?

Red Sage ca us | July 18, 2016

shalinv: Ha! OK. The battery pack will almost certainly outlive a BMW 3-series engine. The warranty on a BMW 320i at a $33,150 base price consists of these line items...
BMW Ultimate Service®*
12-year Rust Perforation Limited Warranty
4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty
4-year/Unlimited Mileage Roadside Assistance Program

* All model year 2017 BMW vehicles and newer sold or leased by an authorized BMW center come with BMW Ultimate Care standard for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles whichever comes first. Only the following maintenance items are included with BMW Ultimate Care when they are performed as outlined in the vehicle's Maintenance booklet:
- Engine Oil
- Engine Filter
- Brake Fluid
- Cabin Micro Filter(s)
- Engine Air Filter(s)
- Spark Plugs
- Remote Control/Key Battery
- Vehicle Check
- Fuel Filter (Diesel engines only)

I think that for the most part, Tesla Motors will be able to take care of their Customers at least as well. Barring the stuff regarding oil changes, spark plugs, and oil filters of course.

Tstolz | July 18, 2016

It should last much longer than 200k/15 years ... consider

- The motor has one moving part
- The transmission ... doesn't have one
- The brakes ... you don't really use them due to regen braking
- The body/frame ... likely lots of aluminum .. so should last pretty well
- Software updates - will make the car more like newer models
- The battery data to date suggests it should never need to be replaced in what is normally the life of a car ... and even if it does, it will retain significant value. An 85kw battery at 70% capacity after 600,000 miles would be 60kw battery!

shalinv | July 18, 2016

Thanks... I don't expect to drive old car after 15 years..... As long as I dont need to spend more than what car is worth after 8 years, I'm good!! There is always a risk in adopting new technology and I'm willing to take one :)

Rocky_H | July 19, 2016

@shalinv, Quote: "Besides that, just like iPhone batteries becomes less efficient over the time, I would expect any batteries using same architecture would be less efficient over the period of time."

I see this mistaken comparison to cell phone batteries made by a lot of people and articles. These are extremely different types of batteries and conditions.

(1) Lifetime - People don't expect their cell phone batteries to last more than 2 or 3 years. They are getting a new phone by that time usually, so who cares? Therefore, the batteries are made in a way that gets the most use out of them in the first few years and doesn't build to preserve their longevity.

(2) Cost - I've bought batteries for my Android phones, and they're usually about $12-$15. A movie ticket costs almost that much now, so no one would care about spending that once in 2 or 3 years to upgrade a bad battery in their phone. So the batteries are made cheaply.

(3) Use conditions - The most damaging, worst things for lithium ion batteries are using the extreme ends of the charge state a lot. Guess what people do with their phones? They hook them up to their charge cables and go to sleep. Those phone batteries sit at 100% for 5 or 6 hours EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. That is regular cumulative damage to the batteries. My daughter's netbook had a feature you could turn on to limit the charge at 80%, so it wouldn't sit at 100% so much and would preserve the battery life, but most laptops don't bother with that, because a laptop battery is $40 or $50 or whatever, so people would rather just have longer battery life and replace it in a few years. And then during the day, fairly frequently people use their phone until it goes dead and shuts off. There's probably some safety margin there, but it's not great for them.

(4) Temperature extremes - This isn't too bad with a phone, because people usually keep it with them, so it's in normal temperatures most of the time, but there's no temperature management. So during charging, it gets pretty warm. Other electric cars have had some problems with their batteries getting degraded early from being too hot. Tesla uses a liquid temperature control system to heat and cool the battery pack as needed to prevent damage. They have been lasting really well, probably because of this factor.

lolachampcar | July 19, 2016

A Model S owner just posted their battery capacity experience over 100K miles. They also shared some thoughts about calendar degradation as this is a factor as well. It seems Tesla has flat nailed this part of the equation.

You hear about motor noise driving replacement. We used to hear about contactor failure driving pack replacement. It is incredibly rare to hear about cell failure driving a pack replacement.

Given existing history, I'd call this one a no problem problem. Your likely better using your worry on thinks like Huds or center displays being available and remotely affordable.

SUN 2 DRV | July 19, 2016

Did you consider the engine replacement cost in the choice of your current car?

Red Sage ca us | July 19, 2016

Mercedes-Benz used to trot out an old car they claimed to be 'original' that supposedly had over 1,000,000 miles driven on it for their promotional tours. I've not seen that car for a long time, perhaps two or three decades. I have never seen anyone do anything similar with a BMW , AUDI, or Porsche. Certainly not a Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, or Lincoln. There might have been a Rolls-Royce, though...?

Fact of the matter is that modern ICE vehicles are designed to be disposable. The amount of revenue to be gained from selling replacement parts over the expected 'lifetime' of an ICE car is a fundamental factor in profitability calculations from the very beginning of the approval process for production. You cannot successfully design an electric car to fall apart on purpose, by a planned or probable schedule. Once it works, it will likely work forever.

With 'service' revenue reduced to not much more than replacing tires, brake pads, windshield wipers, and a handful of fluids...? Traditional automobile manufacturers cannot fathom how longterm profitability of electric cars is possible. There are already techniques and materials that would make ICE vehicles vastly more reliable, but they are not used en masse because that would destroy the expected profitability that would be earned from parts sales on the back end. There is also the ongoing mystique that a high performance car should be a barely street legal race car, that needs a pit crew to follow it around. So, even those who are paying tonloads of money for an 'exclusive experience' are getting ripped off and must get used to saying, "Oh, it's in the shop."

Haggy | July 19, 2016

To put things in perspective, if you are a typical driver, you will charge at night and typically wake up with about 90% of the full range when new. That will be enough miles to drive for several typical days, but you might as well plug in at night and always have a good range. After about 15 years, you will still charge each night, still end up with perhaps 4-5 times as much range as you will need that day, and even though the total range might be lower, you won't see the difference with typical day to day use and nightly charging.

On road trips, with a new battery if you take a 400 mile trip, you might stop once to eat, charge while you eat, stop again for a restroom break and charge there for maybe 10 minutes. After 10 years, you will probably still make that same trip with the same two stops. It's possible that one or both of the stops will take longer because you will arrive with less range. If that's your annual vacation, you might be fine with a total of one extra hour on the round trip, or perhaps more, compared to spending thousands of dollars on a new battery.

If Tesla ends up expanding the battery swap program, it will be a moot point if local charging isn't an issue and you can swap for a new battery to use on a road trip, and swap back on the return trip. That will save you the time of two charges, give you a better battery for the interim portions of the trip, and perhaps by then you'll be able to get a 300-400 mile battery to use on a road trip. If it costs around $60 for both swaps, I'd do it.

svavantsa | July 20, 2016

With model S, Tesla recommends that you charge the battery every night. Why is that necessary? If reaching the extremities is bad, we still do it with phones, but phones is no big deal. But with cars, that is a big deal. So I wonder why Tesla recommends we charge it every night. Or is there a way you can limit the charge to 90 or 95%

AlexM3 | July 20, 2016

Tesla needs at least 1 or 2 dealerships in each US and Canada states first,looks like not all states in US have Tesla yet.

zakeeus | July 20, 2016

svavantsa Yes, you can set the percentage you want it to charge. Some people charge to 90% some 70% or lower.

Nexxus | July 20, 2016


You can charge the car up to any percentage you want, 80% or 90%, and range charge, close to 100%, for longer trips. The usual range is to keep the battery pack in the 20% to 80% range for longer life of the battery.

Haggy | July 20, 2016

Tesla recommends that you plug the vehicle in every night. That doesn't mean it will charge every night. They also recommend that you charge to no more than 90%. If you set the charge level to less than the current capacity, it won't charge. If you leave the car in the garage for a few weeks and keep it plugged in, it won't charge every day even if the range is a few miles lower than the setting when it's time to charge. I'd estimate that the threshold is somewhere around 10 mile decrease.

The best reasons to plug in each night is that you start each day with a full standard charge and there's no advantage to waiting until you absolutely must plug in. You don't waste time when you plug in each night and if you drive around 40 miles a day you might be fine after four days and might have 50 miles left, but why would you want to when you can have upwards of 200? The amount of time it takes to plug in is offset by the fact that I still won't get out of my garage until I watch the door fully close so I literally don't lose a second.

Plugging in each night with a standard charge setting means the car stays in a certain range and doesn't normally go above 90% and may not go below 50% with typical use. You don't want a situation where you regularly go down to the single digits. Besides, why risk getting stranded when there's no down side to plugging in each night if you have the means?

topher | July 22, 2016

"Tesla recommends that you charge the battery every night. Why is that necessary? If reaching the extremities is bad, we still do it with phones, but phones is no big deal. But with cars, that is a big deal."

It IS a big deal with phones. Treating your cell phone battery will limit it to a life of 2-3 years. The 'no big deal' part is the price, $15 for a new battery. For your car, the new battery would be thousands of dollars (every 2-3 years).

Thank you kindly.

lolachampcar | July 22, 2016

First, batteries are rated in full charge/discharge cycles. Partial charge/discharge cycles are within a few percent of being cumulatively equal to complete cycles (four 25% cycles nearly equals one 1 complete cycle). From a thermal standpoint, the partial cycles are better for the battery.

More important to the process is to reduce range anxiety by having customer's cars charged every morning. If you are like me, I no longer look at the "gas gauge" unless I'm going on a longer journey. It simply does not matter any more and does not require my attention.

sp_tesla | July 22, 2016

"lolachampcar | July 22, 2016
From a thermal standpoint, the partial cycles are better for the battery."

+1, Thanks for sharing.

Linemanap | July 27, 2016

I hang on to cars for a long time (2001 GMC 1500) when a part fails I fix it. The cost will always be less then buying a new car. The great thing about a Tesla is less parts and far less moving parts. I plan on keeping my M3 for the rest of my life 50+ years it will be like owning a model T the start of something that will change the world.

rbroundy | February 13, 2019

How do I get the exact specifications of my model 3?

jimglas | February 13, 2019

Your purchase agreement

RedPillSucks | February 13, 2019

As an FYI for a comparison, in the late 90's I had to replace the engine of my Acura TL. The dealership quoted me $13k for a replacement engine. My 2008 Saturn Outlook needed a new transmission, $3000. The M3 battery is under warranty for 8yrs, 120k miles. I think by that time, battery prices will be low enough that the prices will be comparable to an ICE engine or transmission replacement, assuming that one will ever need to replace the battery. It doesn't seem that there's any surge of older Teslas changing out their batteries.

ODWms | February 13, 2019

It will be interesting to see where battery replacements will be in 8 years. The way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s $1500 by then.