One of the biggest fears people have with electric vehicles is the cost of the big batteries that power them. Small car batteries on internal-combustion-powered cars go out on a regular basis, after all, and the large battery pack is the most expensive part on an EV. While EV makers tend to offer generous warranties on their cars’ main batteries to help alleviate this fear, the out-of-pocket price to replace a battery outside of that warranty can get pretty ugly. Case in point: this nearly $16,000 Tesla Model 3 battery replacement invoice from a Tesla service department posted by Current Automotive.
While Current Automotive notes that most electric vehicle battery warranties go for at least eight years or 100,000 miles, there are still things that can happen to a battery that don’t fall under these warranties. These warranties cover defects and manufacturing issues, but not damage that an owner might do.
This nearly $16,000 invoice comes from a car that struck a large rock on the bottom of the car, which caused the battery pack that runs under the car’s cabin to fail according to Current Automotive. The car was completely bricked when it came in for repair. The rock strike was considered “other outside forces” when it came into the shop and thus, was not covered.
You can see the full invoice on Current Automotive’s website here, but it shows the real cost to folks who’d rather not DIY a high-powered battery replacement and risk frying something very, very expensive.
The battery alone, which is listed as “ASY,HVBAT,75KWH,AWD,KELVIN,1PH,M3,RMN(1 13737501-K)” on the invoice is $13,500—and the “RMN” stands for “remanufactured.” It’s a common practice in insurance repairs to push to use remanufactured parts where possible, so that’s not surprising. The surprising part is the total for the rock strike, which is $16,550.67, $2,299.27 of which is labor alone. Shop rates vary depending on the location, but this Tesla service department charges roughly $175 an hour for labor, per Current Automotive. The entire job took just over 13 hours.
An example of a Tesla battery pack from EV parts specialist HSR Motors.
That $16,550.67 includes some of the other front and underbody pieces that broke with the rock strike like the front aero and skid plate, but those are relatively inexpensive ($165 and $200, respectively) and in the skid plate’s case, something that would have to come off to reach the battery anyway. There’s a few other smaller parts that such as the wiring harnesses and battery coolant that had to go on with the new battery as well, so it’s safe to say that replacing a Tesla battery at the service department would come in at nearly $16,000.
While I’m usually the kind of person to specify brand-new body panels and parts, I would probably be fine with a remanufactured battery pack. There are a lot of expensive rare minerals in there, and it’s just more environmentally friendly to reuse those. The smaller batteries used with internal combustion engines are almost entirely recycled to go into new batteries, so why not these bigger ones, too?
As Current Automotive notes, these batteries aren’t just one big cell, but rather several modules that contain hundreds of cells each. If one module fails, though, it can take the rest of the pack out with it.
Curiously, Current Automotive notes that Tesla’s warranty covers battery fire damage even if it was caused by user error or other situations that wouldn’t normally qualify. If the rock strike had started a fire, it might have been covered. Either way, we don’t recommend hitting a big rock with your beloved Model 3. Even though a better car insurance policy will probably cover much of these replacement battery cost, that’s a sizable chunk of time without a car and an annoying extra hassle just like any other repair.
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