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Tesla Model S - expected lifespan? 5-10-15 years.....

Discussion in 'Model S' started by mwulff, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    Hi everyone,

    My wife and I have been considering buying a Model S, so far so good. We did a test drive of the car and we just loved it. The Tesla-grin was painted on our faces for days afterwards. But the car is so incredibly expensive that we have to think about how long it will last.

    Our goal would be to basically make the Model S the last car we ever buy, which for us means an expected lifespan of 30-40 years. Now obviously no car will ever run that long without some serious maintenance and maybe a few upgrades along the way.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    1. We would buy a S85 as it already has insanely unrealistic performance and even with 50% capacity would cover our driving needs.
    2. The battery pack will probably have to be replaced 3-4 times over the lifespan of the car.
    3. The suspension will have to be rebuilt probably several times over. (this is a job I am quite comfortable doing myself).
    4. I expect to redo the interior at least once over the lifespan of the car.

    The upsides to the Model S as I see them:

    1. Aluminum construction, it won't rust away. The paint might get horrible but thats another matter.
    2. Electric motors are extremely hard to kill and with maintenance it could probably run for that long.
    3. Very modular construction, drive units, batteries and many other parts are easily replaceable.
    4. Simple car compared to an ICE (as a hobby mechanic/software engineer I marvel at how simple and elegant the Model S is. A credit to Teslas engineering prowess).
    5. It's unlikely that electricity goes away, there will always be a power plug unless civilization has collapsed, and then we have a whole different set of problems.

    Things that I think could kill the Tesla:

    1. No spare parts available. (IE. Tesla goes out of business and no parts from 3rd parties)
    2. Legislation. If cars become fully autonomous a manually driven Tesla might be illegal on the roads.
    3. Crash/accident. This may total the vehicle, but it would be covered by insurance.

    So I would ask you to post your thoughts on running a Model S for 30-40 years. Ideas, things to consider, problems. Let me know what you think, even if you just think that we are insane :cool:

    Cheers
    /Michael
     
  2. Kermit

    Kermit Member

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    Keeping a daily driver running for 30-40 years -- that's a challenge for any car. The biggest risk is availability of parts, even if the company survives and thrives. Popular cars like VW Beetle or Mustang have their own ecosystem of aftermarket suppliers as well as OEM parts. But try buying a new headlight for, say, a 1978 Plymouth Cricket or a speedometer for a 1983 Cadillac Cimarron. Or a new video display processor for a 2015 Tesla Model S (in the year 2055).

    Autonomous cars will not make any of the 300 million (?) existing cars in the US illegal.


     
  3. bluenation

    bluenation Member

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    a fascinating thought experiment

    i personally think, esp given its power, the avg S will get totalled far before a 40th birthday. see, modern EV's are so new that any projection of life span is theoretical. but then again, they just had a race event of a buncha cars from pre-WW2, so who knows.
     
  4. Just a Reader

    Just a Reader Member

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    I don't believe that you should reasonably expect any of today's cars to run beyond 15 years, least of all high-end cars that are crammed full with electronics. Electronic components don't age well and they are difficult to service. I wouldn't be surprised if some electronic parts of the Model S won't be available in 15 years because all spare units have been used for repairs and the electronic components to build new ones simply aren't available any more. Think of Apple's decision to kill the iPod Classic because (supposedly) the components were difficult to obtain.
    At any rate running a luxury car for decades is an enthusiast's expensive hobby, not a way to economize. Trying to run e.g. a Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 in good condition today wouldn't be a very economical way of providing transport, even though it has basically no electronic components and Mercedes even has a specialist division to take care of such cars.
    With the standards for charging EVs still evolving you can't even rely on being able to charge the car in 30 years time, unless you are happy to rely on 220V home charging.
    As to the reliability of electric motors, have you seen how many owners received new drive trains here? Just because electric motors should last longer than ICE drivetrains doesn't mean that they will really do so in reality. The jury is still out on that issue in my opinion.
     
  5. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    Seeing as I currently drive a 15 year old 320D BMW that works perfectly I don't see much of a problem at the 15 year mark. A Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 was a stupid expensive clown car the day it was bought, and it only became worse as gas prices rose.

    The Tesla is stupidly expensive but at least makes up for it in being environmentally friendly and cheap to run.

    The Tesla will be superseded by more efficient electric cars for sure, but that doesn't mean that a Model S will become crazy expensive to run. Electricity prices will have to stay "stable" for western civilization to work and we will transition to Thorium based nuclear power eventually.

    It is not unusual to see 15-20 year old computers working perfectly. Of course the verdict really still is out on the electric drive train and that will probably be the achilles heel of the Tesla.

    As for crashing it, I don't consider that likely at all. Many M3's,M5's and other performance cars have made it past the 15 year mark.

    Charging could become a problem, but it would probably be possible to do home charging with more the 230V.
     
  6. renim

    renim Member

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    The current S-85 battery will last a very long time, no need to replace 3-4 times.

    Porsche claims that around 70% of all Porsches sold are still on the road, so yes it is possible to keep a car for a long time.

    There is a new auto company risk.
     
  7. grahamsimmonds

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    I am pretty sure over the course of the life time of the car that you would need to replace the battery pack (probably several times over 30-40 years!). Hopefully you might need to be able to upgrade it at the same time but that is never going to be cheap.

    You also do not say how many miles you do a year. I think the jury is still out as to how these cars handle the high mileages although many on these forums have already got to 60 - 70.000 with ease.

    I still think we are the beginning of a curve of development with all electric cars. The Model S is way ahead at the moment but I think there is a momentum building and we will see some amazing developments in the next 10 years. I think if you are looking long term, you should wait and see what happens. I also think electric cars will become much cheaper.
     
  8. Just a Reader

    Just a Reader Member

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    "Seeing as I currently drive a 15 year old 320D BMW that works perfectly I don't see much of a problem at the 15 year mark."

    Really? How many e.g. touch screens does the BMW have? Does it have apps and utilizes software services that need to run on Windows 98SE or were formerly delivered by Amiga? The 320D is a high volume car and its crucial components were built in huge numbers, therefore it's not difficult to source spare parts. Compared to that the Tesla is still an exotic.
     
  9. smac

    smac Active Member

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    Perosnally, and I'll get shot down on here probably, unless a budding 3rd party independent repairer market specialising in Tesla repairs appears I'd be wanting to put aside a fairly big budget to keep it in top order if buying one even at 5-6 years old :(

    I fully expect the backlight to go on the touch screen within 10 years (given my experience of laptops and monitors at work), and a complete replacement is apparently $6k.

    What's a replacement door handle ?

    HVAC Pump?

    Power steering pump?

    Charger?

    Window Motor ?

    Rear Electric Tailgate Struts ?

    Flap solenoids ?


    In fairness, all these things go wrong on all big luxury cars when they are past their prime. A lot of the time you'll see German cars with these sorts of faults, and they are expensive to put right (and people muddle through with them not working, something you can't do with the screen or handles).

    It won't be until cars are dropping out of warranty and these sorts of things happen we will know. (I'm fully expecting enterprising DIY'ers track down which other manufacturers share parts, a window motor might very well be the same as a Mercedes C class for example, and you could pick one up for very little as a refurb unit.)

    You could be lucky and all the little things continue to work. My father had a Lexus LS that went on well past 20 years with all the switches and motors still working (he gave it to a family member and it's still going strong). In contrast a work colleague had a 10 year old E class, and the rear windows were stuck up, the passenger side wing mirror didn't move, passenger door central locking didn't work, to fix that lot at a main dealer was more than the car was worth.

    I suspect the Tesla design goals of MTBF are much more akin to Mercedes than Lexus.

    I LOVE my Model S, but I'm trying to be objective and honest.
     
  10. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    Actually the BMW has a ton of electrical components that can fail, however that is actually not something that happens as often as you would think. The radios are prone to fading displays because of BMW being cheapskates. I work on BMW's as a hobby so I know them quite well.

    But back to the Tesla. I didn't think of the touchscreen. That might actually become a problem if spares are not available. As for the software I can see a few scenarios.

    1. Tesla stops updating the car and it keeps on "ticking" with whatever software is the last version. Some things like streaming-radio og maps might break, but the car won't become inoperable.
    2. Tesla goes out of business and a software bug leaves the car vulnerable to a remote exploit that kills it. This might be solved by pulling the 3g internet connection from the car.
    3. Tesla does not go out of business and the car gets security updates once in a blue moon.

    For all I care every software service/utility in the car can break as long as the car remains drivable.

    But sourcing components is a real concern on a car like this.
     
  11. Matias

    Matias Active Member

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    #11 Matias, Jan 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
    I don't uderstand, why you would want to drive model S 30-40 years. Of course, if you take it as a hobby, I can understand. But there is not any financial rationale to do so. All costs considered, it will be cheaper to buy a new car at some point, than keep repairing the old car.

    Also, as some have pointed out, I believe it becomes almost impossible to get some spare parts in 30 years from now. Propably a lot sooner. Legacy electronics is difficult to repair if something gets broken. Lets think IBM PC from year 1981. From where would you get e.g. memory or processor for that?
     
  12. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    Since Tesla sources some things from the automotive industry at large I expect that you could track down things like the power steering pump. Maybe even get stuff from a breakers yard. Things like the rear tailgate struts really are just simple standard components that can be bought almost anywhere.

    I don't know if Tesla builds their own suspension parts but I suspect that they use off-the-shelf parts most of the time.

    My concern is by far the electric drive train and the 2 screens (dash and center). Thanks to Just A Reader for pointing the screens out.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Matias, If you look at my location you will see that I live in a country where the car taxes are the highest in the world (about 180% + 25% VAT). It makes a ton of sense to just keep repairing the car (short of a complete rebuild) rather than buy a new one. I drive a 15 year old BMW because it makes the most financial sense.

    Every year that a paid off Model S can drive without costing me about $3800 in repairs on average, I save money compared to buying a new one.
     
  13. smac

    smac Active Member

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    Yep it will be interesting to find out.

    I also own a Lotus Elise, which many many parts are from other vehicles. It wasn't until people started doing their own DIY repairs that these parts were identified, and it took a fair while. Brake calipers on the back are from a Renault Laguna for example, and are peanuts from a breakers, but big money from a Lotus dealer.

    I fully expect the Tesla to share parts with more mundane cars (probably a lot of Merc parts under the hood given the steering and window switch gear). Whether or not they got custom spring rates in the tailgate struts, or just weighted it I have no idea. The car certainly "talks" to the electric struts, because they adjusted the closure rates with firmware update... that one really surprised me, and suggests quite a tight integration, and maybe a bespoke design. I'm not aware of any that can have a "set position" either.
     
  14. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    smac, that probably depends on whether your came came with the electric tailgate. Isn't that part of the tech package? I believe I have seen som Hondas that can pull a similar trick.
     
  15. smac

    smac Active Member

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    mwulff, yep I have the tech pack. Whilst not mandatory, if you want sat nav that works without a 3G signal and parking sensors, then it's a bit of a must.

    Resale is likely higher with Tech pack, as evidenced by lower monthly contract hire rates here for cars with, than without. In your case this isn't important.

    I Suppose you could fit regular struts if they ever failed out of warranty.

    In fairness the biggest feature I'd miss now is the Internet radio, which I wasn't expecting! I really only wanted parking sensors and nav, and could happily live without the tailgate, auto presenting door handles and self folding mirrors.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And good spot on the Honda btw... never really looked into cars with auto tailgates before.. I'm more of a 2 seat performance car sort of chap, the Tesla is a departure from type :D
     
  16. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    I believe I would get it with a tech package anyway. But if the internet radio service failed then you could conceivably use your smartphone and bluetooth.
     
  17. smac

    smac Active Member

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    For sure, data charges aside. I drove the Lotus from the UK to Monaco this year, and have a roaming contract with a big allowance, so I did just this :D

    Had it not been for the Tesla changing my habits, I'd have just listened to my iTunes stuff, which now never gets listened to! :cool:
     
  18. jkirkebo

    jkirkebo Model S P85+ VIN 14420 EU

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    I assume the backlight is LED as on modern monitors and TVs, not CCFL like on the older laptops and monitors. Thus it should work a lot longer.
     
  19. smac

    smac Active Member

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    You are probably right, but we still have had LED back-light failures on more modern kit, presumably the driver circuitry rather than the light source. Dead screens aren't exactly completely unexpected on a 4 year old Laptop/iPad/iPhone.

    Either way we are way too early to be sure how well some of the stuff holds up over 5-10 years, let alone 30-40 :D
     
  20. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    I don't think it would be impossible. Electronics advance, so rather than getting identical devices, you get compatible devices. Typically first you get cheaper generics and then as numbers dwindle you get hobbyist/specialist support. It's when you get to the specialist support phase that the car can become a costly hobby. How easy it is depends a lot on how open the manufacturer will be with information about the old car. Right now Tesla's being very controlling. How they'll approach their "classic" cars is a question that someone should ask Tesla.
     

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