Most people are not exactly familiar what goes on under the hood of a Tesla. Especially when it comes to the battery pack. Tesla can be very secretive about this topic, and don’t reveal much when it comes to the practicality of a Tesla battery pack. So, can you add extra batteries to a Tesla?
You cannot physically add more batteries to a Tesla’s battery pack. Every Tesla battery pack is fully utilized within it’s space limit. Some battery packs are software limited, while potentially having the same range as the higher priced cars. A battery swop will be possible.
To find out what the limitations are and why Tesla is doing this, check out the rest of this article.
- Unlock Your Model S Hardware To Upgrade the Battery
- The Lifespan of Tesla Batteries
- The Cost of Replacing Tesla Battery Modules
- Replacing Individual Battery Modules
- Tesla Battery Swap System
- Frequently Asked Questions
Unlock Your Model S Hardware To Upgrade the Battery
Tesla is selling its Model S with an upgradeable battery pack. As weird as it may seem, Tesla has been secretly selling its updated Model S sedan with a 70 kWh battery that becomes a 75 kWh battery after you pay them to unlock your hardware with an over-the-air software update.
If you bought a Model S with a 70 kWh battery and a 240-mile range (386km), you can pay Tesla a bit over $3,000 to unlock the hardware already in your car with a software update. The upgrade will give you an extra 19 miles (31km) range with an additional 5 kWh of battery storage.
I’m sure that you’re used to the upgrades of traditional cars, adding physical bits for better looks or more horsepower—maybe a turbocharger or a modified exhaust system. Having to pay for something that’s already in your car can feel weird, but Tesla is known for experimenting with new ways of doing business in the car world.
So, Tesla promises to swap the Model S70 badge on your car with a Model S75 badge next time you visit a Tesla Service Station. However, both models have the same battery.
If you’d like to find out more about this topic, check out this article that I wrote called: “Can You Upgrade the Range on a Tesla?” This will give you some further insight!
The Lifespan of Tesla Batteries
As you’d expect with any lithium-ion battery, you’ll have to replace it after its retaining capacity starts to fall significantly. It’s no different for Tesla batteries. You’ll need to replace them at some point in the future—but when exactly?
Tesla guarantees that its Model X and S batteries retain about 90% of their capacity after 200,000 miles (321,869 km). NimbleFins supports this with their third-party research. They found that 150,000 miles (241,402 km) retain nearly 90% of their battery capacity, and 200,000 miles retain more than 80%.
Though this is slightly off than what Tesla claims, you know how marketing is. Never mind—I’ll break it down for you.
The average American drives about 14,000 miles (22,531 km) a year. Let’s work with the 200,000 mark. It would take you about 14 years before replacing your car’s battery. And that’s a long time, especially considering that most Americans own their cars for about eight years before reselling.
A survey in Europe in 2021 reported that 350 Teslas lost about 5% of their battery capacity after 50,000 miles (80,467 km). Extrapolating the data revealed that these cars would have lost about 20% of their battery capacity after 500,000 miles (804,672 km).
Tesla offers an exciting warranty on its batteries and drive units. This warranty covers a period of 8 years or 100,000 miles (160,934.4 km) for Model 3 and 150,000 miles (241,401.6 km) for Models S and X—whichever comes first. That means Tesla will cover nearly half of the 200,000 mark for you.
The Cost of Replacing Tesla Battery Modules
In 2019, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk announced that replacing each battery module would cost between $5k and $7k. Teslas use four or five battery modules, meaning that a complete battery replacement would cost between $20k and $35k.
Other findings show that replacing Model S’s battery would cost somewhere between $12k and $15k. However, these costs don’t include additional replacement costs and labor costs.
Tesla battery replacement takes 3-13 hours, with the labor cost at the Tesla Service Station being about $200 an hour. The math puts the cheapest Tesla battery replacement cost around $13-$14k, assuming replacement parts cost between $20 and $200.
The Cost of Replacing Model S Battery
Too much mathematics? Don’t worry. I’ve summarized the costs in the table below.
|Item||Unit Cost||Quantity||Total Cost|
|Battery Modules||$5,000 – $7,000||4 or 5||$12k-$13k|
|Replacement Items||$20-$200||Varies depending on the condition of your car||$100-$200|
You may wonder why the huge difference between what Elon Musk estimates and what other data shows. Honestly, Tesla doesn’t maintain a repair and replacement guide, and you shouldn’t expect its parts prices list to be an open book.
Much of the information out there is based on the bills a few Tesla owners willingly produce.
Random Fun Fact:
The batteries of Tesla Models S and X have been using 18650 cells made by Panasonic since 2013.
Replacing Individual Battery Modules
Tesla batteries consist of 4 or 5 modules. The automaker’s Battery Management System is quick to detect malfunctions in the battery pack. If a module does not match capacity with the rest of the modules in the pack, the system will detect it.
But the battery management system won’t leave you stranded. It will limit your battery’s range before rendering your car undrivable.
You’d suppose replacing a failed battery module would be a quick fix. But as Jason Hughes, a Tesla and EV expert, reports on CarBuzz, this may not be a viable solution. According to Hughes, his battery pack operated well after the module replacement but began to lose range after five charging cycles. After a month, his battery only retained about 20% range.
Other Tesla experts, like Pete Gruber, the CEO of Gruber Motors, disagreed with Hughes’ claims. I would also disagree with him for an important reason: He took his car to an independent repair shop instead of a Tesla Service Station.
Although there are independent repair shops out there promising the heavens with cheap Tesla battery repairs, I’d recommend you stick to what Tesla recommends with battery repairs and replacements. If you notice your battery ranging abnormally, schedule an appointment with your nearest Tesla service station.
Tesla Battery Swap System
In 2014, Tesla rolled out a battery swap pilot program, which, if operationalized, would have helped Model S owners needing battery charge to swap their low-charge batteries with fully charged ones at supercharging stations.
Tesla touted the program as a swift alternative to the DC supercharging. It would take about 90 seconds to swap a Model S battery, and motorists won’t even have to get out of their cars. Ninety seconds is less than it would take to fill up the tank of your gas-powered car.
Unfortunately, Tesla eventually put up only one battery-swapping station in California, which remains defunct. Although there are reports of plans to have the same program in China, Tesla has quickly denied the claims.
Here’s a Youtube video showing Tesla’s battery swap program.
Let me clarify:
Tesla’s battery swap isn’t the same as a replacement. Battery swap, as Tesla envisioned, was meant to swap low-charge batteries for fully charged ones. On the other hand, replacement involves taking out an old and failed battery and replacing it with a new one.
Did You Know:
Tesla Superchargers allow you to charge your car for up to 200 miles in 15 minutes, making it the fastest charging option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Replace the Tesla 12v Battery Myself?
You can replace the 12v battery yourself, but it would take you two hours and you run the risk of damaging your car. It would take an experienced mechanic an hour.
How Reliable Is the Tesla Battery?
Models S and X batteries retain 80% of their original range after 200,000 miles. Tesla’s battery longevity range is between 300,000 and 500,000 miles.
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