How Far Will People Push Tesla’s Million-Mile Warranty?

Now that Tesla has uncapped the limit for its 8-year Model S powertrain warranty to “infinite” miles, how far might some Model S drivers actually be able to take this?

Could they drive a million miles all under warranty? Could they go farther?

Already, stranger things have happened, such as a couple of ex-army buddies traveling from Texas to the Panama Canal without any infrastructure at all. And Tesla itself blazed across country via Superchargers in 76.5 hours, and others have since gone quicker.

Randy Denmon and his friend Dean Lewis wanted to prove Model S was tough and capable.

Randy Denmon and his friend Dean Lewis wanted to prove Model S was tough and capable.

Already also, owners of the Model S – which was launched July 2012 – have reported 100,000 miles. With Superchargers “free” to use, and the Model S powertrain covered under warranty, can you think of a better car for an epic shakedown run?

So what can be done? Keeping this hypothetical scenario to conservative round numbers, an 85-kilowatt-hour Model S is EPA rated at 265 miles. At highway speeds one might shoot for 200-225 miles before opting for a recharge.

Let’s say 150 miles, and assume the build out of Superchargers across the U.S. – or some other region – on the map will make that conceivable.

Assumption for a single driving day:

According to early adopting Model S Signature Performance owner Mark Zimmer, who’s tested what’s viable and what’s not, you’d ideally want to avoid topping off the battery to 100 percent. The charge rate automatically slows down for the last 10-percent, is not as great for the battery, and eats time.

“Another factor that slows the charge session are the number of vehicles charging, battery version and SuperCharger installation (90 or 135 kilowatt output),” he said.

Again ideally, a Model S driver would recharge from 20 percent state of charge to 80 or 90 percent. Conservatively, 150 miles range could be obtained in 20 minutes under ideal conditions.

Tesla says this is what the Supercharger station distribution may look like by the end of 2015.

Tesla says this is what the Supercharger station distribution may look like by the end of 2015.

“Traveling 150 miles at 65 mph, that’s 2.3 hours between Superchargers,” said Zimmer. “Let’s add 40 minutes for the SuperCharger session and that’s 150 miles every 3 hours. At 9 hours of driving and charging, that’s 450 miles. Drive 300 travel days at 450 miles for 135,000 miles a year.”

This would mean long days allowing for stops at the Supercharger, and it assumes no backed-up lines at the Supercharger, quick meals, and bathroom breaks.

​And, Zimmer, noted, further issues can or would crop up. Helping things could be if one recharged at a hotel overnight.

Tesla is building out Superchargers in other regions, so this possibility could happen in Europe or elsewhere.

Tesla is building out Superchargers in other regions, so this possibility could happen in Europe or elsewhere.

As it is, this is pretty conservative allowing for 65 days out of each calendar year as down time. Alternately, Model S adventure tourers could drive less, take less time out, or otherwise make it more workable for them.

At 135,000 miles per year, a Model S driver could do 1,080,000 miles in eight years.

General Motors offers 100,000 miles for its eight year Volt/ELR powertrain warranty limiting drivers to 12,500 miles per year which looks very curmudgeon-like next to Tesla’s extravagant policy.

Of course a zillion other hypotheticals could be made up, but the above is possible.

Now we only have to see if there are going to be any takers, and who can accrue the most under-warranty miles in eight years.