What to know about Tesla's batteries

We all know that Tesla cars are powered by a battery, but how much do we know about batteries?
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Electric car battery
Electric car battery

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Many of us have minor anxiety regarding electric vehicles; range anxiety. Electric vehicle manufacturers and other tech companies are working on different solutions regarding providing greater range and offering shorter charging durations.

Today we are going to take a peek at Tesla's batteries.

Tesla uses various batteries, but they are all lithium-ion batteries. Tesla predominantly employs three cathode types in its electric vehicles, which are:

  • nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA)

  • nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM)

  • lithium iron phosphate (LFP)

The first two, NCA and NCM, are well suited for usage in extended-range Tesla models due to their high energy density. Both are used for cylindrical cells (NCA in 1865 and 2170 from Panasonic, NCM in 2170 from LGES).

The LFP is a type that uses less energy. It is less expensive because it doesn't have nickel or cobalt. It fits energy storage systems and entry-level versions perfectly.

1- How long does the Tesla battery last?

If you're concerned about how long your Tesla's battery will last, don’t—the company produces some vehicles with around 300–400-mile (480-640 km) ranges in ideal conditions, although most models have ranges that are less than this. Because their products have some of the best battery ranges in the business, Tesla is at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution. Learn how ranges vary between Tesla models, why different vehicles have varied ranges, and how many miles certain Tesla vehicles can travel by reading on.

The typical range of a Tesla car's battery is 336 miles per charge. The Model 3 has the shortest range at 267 miles (429 km), while the Model S has the highest range at 405 miles (650 km). There is no guarantee that your Tesla will achieve the exact range mentioned below because these are stated mileage averages by Tesla. The battery life of your Tesla will vary depending on the weather and your driving habits. 

The model is the main reason why the overall range of your Tesla is affected by a variety of things. The reasonably priced Model 3 features a smaller internal battery, for instance. On the other hand, the long-range Model S offers excellent acceleration and a bigger, more effective battery. It is significant to remember that a longer range generally entails a higher price. Additionally, specific variables are unique to each person, such as driving techniques and style, minimizing excess weight and driving at lower speeds.

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2- How long does it take to charge a Tesla?

The battery and charger types also affect how long it takes to charge your vehicle. Whether or not your EV is a Tesla, different chargers will significantly impact how long it will take to charge it.

Level 1 AC Charging

Level 1 is 120-volt charging using a common household outlet. You may use that to charge your Tesla if there is no other charger nearby. It’s also known as trickle charging, because it generally only provides 3-5 miles of range for every hour it’s connected to an EV. This means it could take days, not hours or minutes, if you're wondering how long it would take to charge your 2021 Tesla Long Range Model 3, meaning this is not optimal.

Level 2 AC Charging

Although DC fast chargers are becoming increasingly prevalent, Level 2 chargers are the most typical type seen at third-party public charging stations (more of them in a minute). Compared to standard 120V outlets, 240V plugs are typically more strategically located and typically give 40 to 80 amps of current.

What to know about Tesla's batteries
Tesla Level 2 AC Charging

This charger is the size of a small box and is often installed in a garage or on the side of the house. Tesla advises owners to, if possible, install a Level 2 charger in their house or garage. Installing this is quite simple for an expert or electrician.

When compared to Level 1, Level 2 speeds are substantially faster. We're speaking of hours here, not days.

DC Fast Charging

This form of charging includes the Tesla Supercharger network, which is a collection of exclusive charging locations that Tesla designed and implemented. As a result, unlike most existing OEMs of electric vehicles, the automaker is not dependent on outside charging networks. However, some external power supplies come with an adaptor socket for Tesla EVs.

What to know about Tesla's batteries
Tesla Supercharger

DC fast chargers forgo the alternating current (AC) mentioned above in favor of mainline power. Their output is indeed "exceptional," even though they need a lot more power from the grid (480+ volts and 100+ amps).

The EV’s onboard charger module normally converts the grid’s alternating current (AC) to DC before it charges the battery, in a process called rectification. This can slow the charging process. However, DC chargers start with higher AC voltage and rectify it to high-voltage DC using a fast charging point, and then feed it directly to your car’s battery. Tesla vehicles, however, are designed to switch internally when Supercharging, so they can use the same small connector for DC as for AC, just with a larger cable.

Depending on the charging pace, most Tesla Superchargers can recharge up to 200 miles of range in under 15 minutes. Depending on whatever Supercharger pile you're at, these DC charging speeds range from 90 kW to 250 kW.

3- How much does a Tesla battery cost?

Tesla battery replacement is much more difficult than replacing the battery of your iPhone or other device, especially in the newer models, where replacing the battery can involve more than 140 separate steps. This is almost always done by a professional, especially if the car is still under warranty.

Tesla has used a variety of lithium-ion battery designs in its vehicles for more than 15 years of production. In the original Roadster and later Model S variants, the 18650-style cell, measuring 18 mm in diameter and 65 mm in length, was employed. The cells are bundled together, and each cell can be charged up to 4.2 volts and discharged as low as 2.5 volts.

Depending on where the cars are made, a Model 3 or Model Y could contain cells that are 4680 or 2170 in style. The 2170 is slightly larger than the 18650, while the 4680 is a larger cell with a “tabless” design that shortens the electrical path, resulting in less heat generated from resistance. It has shingle-spiral design that is simpler to manufacture and measures 46 mm in diameter and 80 mm in length. Each cell is rated for around 9000 mAh, almost twice that of the 18650 and 2170.

About half of all Tesla cells produced in the first quarter of 2022 were of the 4680 design and utilized the new (LFP) chemistry.

For the Tesla Model S, replacing the battery might cost between $12,000 and $16,000. Expect to spend between $20,000 and $22,000 overall because labor costs vary.

A Model 3 battery might cost more than $13,500. The labor cost is anticipated to be in the range of $2,300. Therefore, the total cost of replacing the battery might be around $15,800.

The Model Y's configuration is comparable to the Model 3's; therefore, replacing the battery will cost about $15,000.

4- What happens if a Tesla runs out of charge?

This is the quick and easy solution: the car will simply stop moving, and you'll need to call roadside assistance to have it charged with a portable charger or towed to the closest charging station.

People considering buying an electric car are often concerned about this, since it's new and unfamiliar, which is totally understandable.

However, an electric vehicle will also alert you if its battery runs low, and many onboard systems will also direct you to the nearest charge point that can be safely reached with the existing charge, so you won't suddenly find yourself stranded.

Downloading apps like PlugShare, which displays the nearest charging stations, would also be brilliant.

5- Where are Tesla batteries made?

Tesla produces its batteries in its gigafactories.

What to know about Tesla's batteries
Gigafactory Nevada

Tesla's first Gigafactory, Giga Nevada, produces lithium-ion battery cells, including cylindrical 2170-type batteries (energy storage systems and parts), in partnership with Panasonic.

What to know about Tesla's batteries
Gigafactory Texas

Tesla Giga Texas in Austin is preparing the production of the limitedly available 4680-type batteries.

6- Are Tesla batteries recyclable?

Materials in a Tesla lithium-ion battery are recoverable and recyclable, in contrast to fossil fuels, which emit hazardous emissions into the atmosphere that cannot be retrieved for reuse, when a battery reaches the end of its useful life, the materials that went into making it will still be there and can be recycled to recover the battery's vital components for usage time and time again.

For both commercial and environmental reasons, extending the life of a battery pack is preferable to recycling. For these reasons, Tesla tries everything to prolong each battery pack's functional life before decommissioning and shipping it for recycling. At any of our service centers worldwide, Tesla can repair any battery that no longer meets a customer's needs.

According to Tesla, the company uses a “closed-loop” process that allows it to keep 100 percent of its batteries, which typically last around a decade, out of the landfill. This means that none of the lithium-ion batteries are dumped; instead, they are all recycled. However, there are some doubts about exactly what this means, as Tesla does not conduct all of its own recovery and recycling and experts caution that no battery is 100% recyclable.

Only trained professionals at authorized facilities should handle lithium-ion battery packs. It is always advisable to abide by local battery management laws and regulations.

To sum up, Tesla, and other battery-powered vehicle manufacturers, care about commuters, and the tech companies that care about the environment keep working to improve zero-emission transportation and other various means to improve.

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