Featured Post

This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry

Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Sunday, September 18, 2022

6 Years of Tesla Model X Ownership

UPDATED (2022 Sept 21) Corrected unlimited mileage warranty. Hat tip to David Michel. 

Hard to believe it's been six years since taking deliver of a Model X. I still think of it as a 'new car.'

In September of 2016, I took ownership of the best (and most expensive) vehicle that I've ever owned. A Tesla Model X 90D. It's been a fun time even though there were a couple of bumps in the road. 

As early as 2014, I knew a plug-in SUV was going to be one of the vehicles in our home fleet. I assumed it was going to be a plug-in hybrid until I went for a ride along in a friends Model X test drive. This changed my mind. Hybrids (plug-in or not) were no longer on the table. 

I shudder to think about how much money I'd have right now if, in 2016, I had invested those funds into Tesla stock instead of buying a Tesla with it. To be clear, I did some Tesla investing too and it has done well, so I can't complain loudly. In fact, owning a Tesla vehicle made me understand the company, how far ahead they were, and then invest even more into the company stock. I call this self-reinforcing feedback loop The Tesla Cycle; but this is not a post about stock investing. Back to the six-year story.

Quick Stats 

Here are a few stats for my 6th year: 

My 2016 Model X
Miles Driven This Year 5,598
Lifetime Miles Driven   47,789
Lifetime kWh used 30,622
Lifetime Electricity Cost $1,254
Lifetime Fuel Saving (see below)   $10,300
Wh per Mile 603
Miles per kWh 1.7
Cost Per Mile 2.6¢
Trips to Service Center This Year   2


'Fueling' Cost 

Primarily I charge in my garage, overnight, using an off-peak electricity rate of 4.1¢ per kWh. This is the value used in the table above, however, when we travel, we generally use Tesla Superchargers. I'm lucky to have free Supercharging for life (something Tesla no longer offers), so my actual total cost for charging is less than the $1254 amount shown above.

$1,254 is a lot of money, but this powered nearly 48 thousand miles of driving. How much would it have cost me to drive a similar sized and model-year gas vehicle? Let's compare my Model X results to a 2016 BMW X5 M AWD 4DR. The BMW X5 gets 14 city /19 hwy MPG. This means it would have burned about 2,900 gallons of gasoline over these 6 years. At $4 per gallon, fueling the BMW X5 would have cost more than $11,500. So a BWM X5 would have cost over 9 times more than 'fueling' a Tesla Model X. 

Year 6 Adventure Recap

Over the last year, most of our vacation travel has been by road rather than by air, so our Model X has been our primary vacation transportation. We enjoy traveling around the Pacific Northwest. In the last year, we've visited Seattle, Arch Cape and Hug Point Park, Mount Hood, Eugene, and Corvallis. Here are a few photos from this last year's journeys.


I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine where each photo above was taken. 

Service Center Visits

Tesla's New Service Center in Tualatin, OR

First, Tesla has opened a new service center in the west Portland suburbs! This is great. When I first received my vehicle in 2016, the regional service center was in a rental space in Tualatin. Then they opened the South Waterfront Service Center in downtown Portland and closed the (convenient to me) rental location. The South Waterfront site was a much nicer, a larger building, but it is a pain to get to. It was farther away and there's always traffic in downtown Portland. 

This new service center solves that problem. The majority of Tesla vehicles in the region are on the west side suburbs in the Silicon Forest high-tech area and this location is perfectly positioned to service these vehicles. 

Both of my service center visits this year were related to the battery coolant system. I guess that's just something that starts having trouble at this age. 

Here are my two visits: 
  1. In Feb, the coolant heater died (a bit of an oxymoron that coolant needs to occasionally be heated) - This was by far the biggest component failure that we've had during our ownership experience. The vehicle was out of action for 44 days, but they gave us a loaner. We were back on the road in early April.

  2. In June of 2022, we went back into the service center for low coolant levels. Despite just having the coolant completely refilled just 2 months before, it was now reading low. The technician claimed the leak was completely unrelated to the work done in Feb/April. A quick three-way-value replacement and we were back on the road. Service was completed much more quickly this time; I dropped it off at 4PM on a Tuesday and picked it up at 3:30PM the next day. 

Software Updates

One of the coolest features of owning a Tesla is getting software updates. They bring improvements and fun extras. As an older model year, I don't expect (and don't have the required hardware) for all the bells and whistles. However, I'm surprised Tesla still updates vehicles as old as mine. They have long ago collected their payment for the vehicle. Yet, I received three updates this year. 

v10.2 2021.24.28
v11.0 2022.8.10.1 
v11.0 2022.8.10.5 

A few of the features that these updates added: 
  • Stay connected to Wi-Fi while driving - a great feature if you are using your phone as a hotspot
  • Improved Bioweapon Defense Mode - turn it on via the app and purify the air before you enter the vehicle
  • Better driver profiles allows each driver to have their own home and work locations
  • Customizable in-vehicle app launcher - put your favorite app (Spotify) in an easy to access spot in the toolbar 
  • New app features to adjust charging current, scheduled charging from the Tesla app
  • Better Autopark
  • Dark Mode!
  • Several cold weather improvements:
    1. Improved cold weather preconditioning en route to Supercharger
    2. Maintain front defrost climate settings when clearing ice and snow
    3. Precondition cabin via the Tesla app even if the battery is low

Battery Degradation

I've been tracking the battery degradation since the vehicle was about 1 year old. After my poor experience with a 2011 Nissan LEAF, I was concerned about this with any EV I'd be purchasing next.

From Tesla: 

The Battery degradation coverage was clarified in a later version of the warranty:

Model S
Model X
8 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first, with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period.

Now entering year 7, the 8-year warranty terminal date is within sight. Other than the original Tesla Roadster and some really old Model S cars, not too many of Tesla's vehicles are outside of this coverage. With less than 50k miles on the odometer at this point, the 8-year mark is very likely to come before the "unlimited" mile mark (lol). But how close are we to the 70% battery pack retention level? Let's figure it out.

We began this year with 237 miles of range* and we are ending the year with 233 miles of range. We started with an EPA rating of 257 miles of range, and now in year 6 with 233 miles, that's 24 miles (or 9%) of lifetime degradation to-date. This is all easier to see in a graph. 
As you can see the degradation rate is slowing. In the first 3 years, it averaged a little over 2% per year and in the last 3 years, it averaged about 1% per year. We are still under 10% total degradation, so it seems unlikely that we'll have below 70% capacity in time for a warranty claim before the 8-year mark. A free battery pack replacement for me seems very unlikely.  
For completeness, here's the graph that I've shown in previous years, now with a view out the the end of warranty.

Another way to get an estimate of the vehicle range is to charge it to 100% full. I generally don't do this, but before one of our road trips this summer, I did just that. When fully charged, the display reported that we had 242 miles of range on July 22nd, 2022. This is a little more than the 237 mile estimate from the battery monitor, but in the same general area.


Our Model X parked in front of a solar array

For me, fueling our vehicle with energy generated on our own roof is an important and satisfying part of EV ownership. Technically, we usually charge overnight, with off-peak electricity rates, but this allows us to charge our home batteries and feed energy into the grid during mid-peak and peak times, reducing mid-day and peak grid load. As well as making our home batteries available for our local utility to dispatch when the grid needs it most. 

Over the last year our rooftop has generated 11,525 kWhs of energy. This would be enough drive our Model X nearly 20,000 miles. That's three and a half times more than we drove the X during this time.

Wrap Up

Another fun year of Tesla ownership. Our chariot took us on great adventures. Tesla has kept the ownership experience fresh with continued software updates bringing improvements and new features. This is likely one of the reasons our 6 year old vehicle still feels like new.  

We did have to replace parts for the battery coolant heater system, but these things happen. Tesla gave me a loaner vehicle, so I was not without a Tesla in the driveway, there waiting when a get-around was needed. 

Related Links

This is our 16th year driving electric. You can read more of that history here.

If you enjoy this post, you can see our other annual reviews and Model X milestone reports below:

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5


Disclosure: I am long Tesla

No comments:

Post a Comment