I’m Using Just 20% of My Tesla Model 3 SR+ Battery

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Many people feel a need for long-range batteries when they buy electric vehicles, and that actually goes for new buyers as well as repeat buyers. I have to admit that I have a hard time understanding it unless you’re an encyclopedia salesman (not sure if those still exist) or go on a lot of road trips. But, hey, to each their own!

The thing I wanted to explain today is how little one actually uses from their EV’s battery in more or less typical use. Some core background facts:

  • We have a 4½-year-old Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+). It now has about 200 miles (or a bit less) of range on a full charge.
  • We are a one-car family, so this car is used to take the girls (two daughters and wife) to school every weekday and pick them up. It’s also used for all shopping, sports activities, birthday parties, etc. (of course).

I used to use Tesla Superchargers behind a grocery store for about 90% of our charging, but with changes in the Tesla referral program, about 77,000 miles of free Supercharging surprisingly expired on me. So, recently, I’ve shifted to charging at home for all of our charging needs. In the interest of protecting the battery as much as possible, I’m mostly keeping the battery charged between 40% and 60% now, or going down to 30% in cases where I forget to plug in.

So, in essence, I’m basically using 20% of the car’s battery, or I guess we could say 30% thanks to my occasional forgetfulness.

I should also note that this is with 120V charging — charging from a normal electricity outlet. That’s the slowest possible charging.

Yes, of course, if I had a battery that offered 40 miles of range on a full charge and I was driving 40 miles a day, that would be extreme and uncomfortably close. However, that’s not the point. The point is that even with the lowest range Tesla and a degraded battery, it’s extremely easy to keep the car charged and not worry about range. It’s even easy to hover around 50% charge.

Again, some people may feel a need for a larger battery. They may have a 20-miles commute each way as well as various extracurricular activities and errands with kids. Or perhaps they go on a lot of road trips and feel the moderate savings in on-road charging time are worth it.

However, my point is that for anyone worrying about whether to spend several thousand dollars more for a longer-range EV or just go with a cheaper, lower-range one, consider how much you really drive each day and how easy it is to plug in where the car is sitting most of the time. You may need far less range than you expect, even five years after you bought the car when the battery (which will surely be better than my 2019 battery) has supposedly degraded enormously.

Oh, one more thing the headline point brings to mind: imagine how much EV batteries could be used for vehicle-to-grid support, or even more creative uses.

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