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Selecting the Right Battery Size

battery pack
The Easy Choices

Pick the smallest battery if your budget is already pushed to the limit for the base car.

Pick the largest battery if the cost is unimportant to you.

Pick the largest battery if the best performance is important to you. Performance models do have a little less range than non-performance models with the same size battery.

The Practical Choices

For most of us, we have a budget and want to know which battery fits our needs best without breaking the bank.  Like ICE cars, there is some degradation over time. While an ICE car’s range and efficiency deteriorates slowly over its life, a Tesla has a little degradation of the battery in the first 60K miles, then less beyond that.

Below we show every Tesla model, along with the expected average battery degradation over time. Table uses EPA and estimated EPA values published by Tesla.  The S and X ranges are for the upgraded motors in cars ordered on 24-Apr-2019 or later.  (24-Apr-19 update)

New Cars

Model Sub Model EPA, new 60K miles* 120K miles*
S Standard Range AWD 285 264 264
S Long Range AWD 370 350 343
S Performance AWD 345 326 319
X Standard Range AWD 250 236 231
X Long Range AWD 325 307 301
X Performance AWD 305 288 282
Y Standard 230 218 213
Y Long Range 300 284 278
Y Dual Motor AWD 280 265 259
Y Performance AWD 280 265 259
3 Standard Range 220 208 204
3 Standard Range Plus 240 227 222
3 Long Range AWD 310 293 287
3 Performance AWD 310 293 287

Discontinued Cars (used market or CPOs)

Model Sub Model EPA, new 60K miles* 120K miles*
S 40 139 131 128
S 60 210 199 194
S 60D 218 206 201
S 70 230 218 213
S 70D 240 227 222
S 75 249 236 231
S 75D 259 245 240
S 85 265 251 245
S 85D 272 257 252
S P85 265 251 245
S P85D 253 239 234
S 90D 294 278 272
S P90D 270 255 250
S Standard Range AWD** 270 255 250
S Long Range AWD*** 335 317 310
S Performance AWD*** 315 298 292
X 60D 200 189 185
X 70D 220 208 204
X 75D 236 223 219
X 90D 257 243 238
X P90D 250 237 232
X Long Range AWD*** 295 279 273
X Performance AWD*** 289 273 268
3 Medium Range RWD 264 250 244
3 Long Range RWD 325 307 301

* Degradation averages 5.4% at 60K miles, and 7.4% at 120K miles on S/X. Reported by owners as of Feb-2019.  Model 3 uses a different battery, so the degradation may differ. We suspect degradation will be less than the S/X.

** Prior to May-April 2019
*** Previously called 100D or P100D, also Prior to May-April 2019

Figuring the Range Needed

What range do you really need? First, we assume you hare home charging. If not, that adds some complications as you need figure out where and how often you plan charge. At home, you should be able to fully charge each night. While you can charge to 100% anytime, note that Tesla recommends a 90% charge to improve battery longevity unless you need it for longer trips. You shouldn’t worry much about this, and use 100% whenever you need to.

Step through each of these scenarios and check what range is necessary:

  • Home charging, getting to work and back. Add some miles for typical side trips such as lunch and grocery shopping.
  • Longer trips you take to family or friends. Check if you charge at your destination or perhaps at Superchargers along the way. Only note the longest segment – such as from your home to the first Supercharger.
  • Vacations – Do you fly or drive? If driving, figure out the typical distances and stops you may need to take at Superchargers. If you need extreme range (driving outside the Supercharger network for long periods), would a 2nd car you own be a better solution? If so, ignore that long trip for EV distance.  Also consider how frequent you take a long vacation. You may find it cheaper to rent a car for that rare trip, than buy a larger battery than you’ll never need for the rest of the year.
Range adjustment

Some adjustment may be necessary if you travel at very high speeds for long distances, drive in cold or hot weather, or have the larger wheels (which are not as efficient).  The EPA numbers are roughly based on travel at an average speed of 65 mph on a flat level surface without headwinds and 70 degrees outside.

Conclusions

It may seem overly complicated, but there is really no bad choices, and plenty of good choices. Many owners are happy with the smallest battery in the 200+ mile range. Only you can access which battery is best for you and meets your needs.

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