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Thread: Batteries not upgradeable in the future?!

  1. #1
    40kWh Model S P6415 zdre's Avatar
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    Batteries not upgradeable in the future?!

    I asked my product specialist about upgrading to a bigger battery capacity in the future (i.e. 8 years) and got this response:

    "Batteries will not be upgradable in the future.* As technology improves, their range may increase, but it will still be the same size battery pack.* You will be required to replace battery packs like for like."

    I am shocked by this, as I don't see any technical or logical reason for this limitation. I am also confused how the same capacity batteries could provide increased range.

  2. #2
    Model S R231 EU widodh's Avatar
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    Maybe due to regulations? I don't know.

    The range might increase do to more Wh/kg, you get the same capacity with less weight thus increasing the range.
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  3. #3
    One thought is that the battery capacity is part of each vehicles VIN#. Perhaps as a manufacturer, Tesla has to stay within a set of regulations regarding what modifications they "support" to the core vehicle.

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    Model S 85KW, VIN #2236
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    I confess that would disappoint me. I've been hoping that 8 years from now, they'd do an upgrade and honestly, given the software upgradeability of the car, I can't see a technical reason why they couldn't put a battery pack in with the same weight, weigh distribution, cooling system requirements and have more range.

    I understand they can't promise that now. But I'm hard pressed to see why 5 years from now, they wouldn't engineer a better battery pack. 8 years from now, I'm not even sure that Panasonic will be making the current cells so I think there's a decent chance they'll have to do that anyway. And if you're going to have to rework the pack to take different cells, why not do it right?

  5. #5
    40kWh Model S P6415 zdre's Avatar
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    I understand they can't promise much at this point, but requiring the same packs is a bit drastic. I think Tesla needs to keep their options open. I still remember promises of being able to swap for a bigger pack at the service center for longer trips.

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    Maybe by "size" he meant physical size/weight and not capacity?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Johan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zdre View Post
    I asked my product specialist about upgrading to a bigger battery capacity in the future (i.e. 8 years) and got this response:

    "Batteries will not be upgradable in the future.* As technology improves, their range may increase, but it will still be the same size battery pack.* You will be required to replace battery packs like for like."

    I am shocked by this, as I don't see any technical or logical reason for this limitation. I am also confused how the same capacity batteries could provide increased range.
    Size could imply physical size or you could have meant capacity (kWh). The physical size must remain the same if you switch - the battery pack is an integral part of the car. Clearly, the same physical size can be stacked with different cells thereby giving different capacities, the example being the 85kWh and 60kWh battery in the Model S.

    It's wrong to think that it would just be easy to make the samme battery pack with just an updated generation of cells, there are many aspects if you change the cell, voltages, temperature managment, etc. etc.

    It believe it might no be possible to put in a say 200kWh pack in 8 years, even if they are routinely available for new cars. At least I would be careful to assume it.
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    Isn't the proper person to ask for clarification the specialist that you were talking to at the time? There are plenty of factors, both technological and economic, but it isn't as if anyone here can more than speculate (or make something up).

  9. #9
    Leeroy Jenkins sublimaze1's Avatar
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    Well, one thing for sure: If you have 100K+ miles on an ICE, and you had a major problem with, say, the engine - it is not uncommon to have non OEM parts to replace - say - a rod or a cylinder or something, and BMW/MB/etc. doesn't really care as they are out of warranty - so one may opt to go to a Euro-auto-haus and fix their car in their own chosen fashion.

    As EVs become more mainstream, and 7-10 years down the road, someone will have a company that - say - offers to replace your 85kWh battery with a non-OEM 170kWh battery pack, taking the old one, placing it vertically in your garage, hook it up to your breaker, installing a computer interface, and giving you a backup "generator" for power failures.

    All this, for less than the price of what Tesla would offer.

    Certainly not outside the realm of possibility. I agree with Johan ... don't assume that 200kWh would work, and also that batteries follow Moore's Law.

    Point: my crystal ball is in the shop, and my psychic beanie baby has been sick lately, and nobody really knows where the future of batteries, Lithium, A123, etc. are headed. I, for one, am interested to see.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by zdre View Post
    I asked my product specialist about upgrading to a bigger battery capacity in the future (i.e. 8 years) and got this response:

    "Batteries will not be upgradable in the future.* As technology improves, their range may increase, but it will still be the same size battery pack.* You will be required to replace battery packs like for like."

    I am shocked by this, as I don't see any technical or logical reason for this limitation. I am also confused how the same capacity batteries could provide increased range.
    I also refer to our Summer experience with PS, DS, and OE personnel and their verbiage (I would guess he meant, "since we assume you will buy from us, you will get what we make, and we won't support a different size"). Again, all speculation

  10. #10
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    In the recently updated Model S Facts page Tesla states,
    While technically possible to upgrade to a larger battery, we recommend configuring your Model S with the battery that meets both your present and future needs.
    (http://www.teslamotors.com/models/facts

    Since they just updated the page, if they wanted to to come out and say, "We will never upgrade your pack" then they could have. My guess is that just like the statement on the Facts page Tesla want their staff to discourage people from counting on upgrades, but it doesn't make sense to completely rule out something now. If there are regulatory barriers then regulations may change in the future. If they just don't think it will be a profitable business model then the economics might change.

    So I'm doing exactly what Tesla states: I'm not counting on ever being able to upgrade my pack, but I'm also not ruling out the possibility. If I do get a chance to upgrade someday, I'll be thrilled. If not, well, they were clear in warning me that was a possibility.
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