How Much Range Is Lost When Parked? - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: How Much Range Is Lost When Parked?

February 28, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

One of the frequently asked questions I get about electric vehicles goes like this: "What happens to the battery when the car sits parked? How many miles does is lose just sitting there?"

OK, that was two questions, but still.

A couple of weeks ago I deliberately checked out the 2013 Tesla Model S for a trip I took to Puerto Rico to test the upcoming 2014 Mini Cooper.

The Model S was my ride to the airport, and it sat idle in an LAX parking structure for three days while I flew south for the winter. Tesla's handy iPhone app confirmed it had 204 miles of range as I boarded the Wally Park airport shuttle.

How much would it have when I came back?

2013 Tesla Model S

I took periodic screen captures of the Tesla iPhone app at random intervals during my trip. After an uneventful red-eye flight out of Los Angeles, I recorded the first couple during the 14 hours I was stranded at the Atlanta airport as my connecting flight was cancelled not once, but twice. I took another when I finally checked into my Puerto Rico hotel room at 2:39 a.m. the next morning.

Each check-in took a couple of minutes while the car woke up at the prompting of the app. This delay is a symptom of the new power-saving feature that entered the picture last December as part of software update v5.8.

There was no such delay before the power-saving feature was added. A certain part of the car's brain was booted up and alert all the time, and that apparently came at the cost of a certain amount of battery drain and loss of range.

2013 Tesla Model S

I returned to the car about one hour shy of three days later. In that time the range had dropped from 204 to 200 miles, not very much, if you ask me. A drain of a mile-and-a-bit per day seems entirely satisfactory to me.

But why was there any drain at all? I suspect it's because the car still has to be semi-conscious so it can respond to a wake-up call from the app. In such circumstances zero drain doesn't seem possible. And of course the car awoke from its slumber each time I pinged it before going back to sleep.

Interestingly, this new power save feature has an off switch that removes the delay and reinstates the pre-update alertness our car had before December.

I have another business trip coming up. Perhaps I'll drive the Tesla to the airport once more and leave it there for a few days with the power save feature turned off to see what kind of difference this setting makes.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 18,523 miles


  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    That's a remarkable improvement in time-drain vs before; I'd say Tesla finally fixed the vampire problem. You ask why any drainage occurs: one answer is that it may not be real. You may be observing differences due to temperature changes. Also, 'gas-gauging' of a lithium ion cell is exceptionally difficult. Getting it right within 2% is quite good, given all the variables. It's even possible the 204 reading was incorrect, and cell balancing of the internal voltages over time may have produced a more correct reading of 200. Or, more obviously, the 2% drop may be real, and I'd still say that's not bad for several days' time. My Leaf stays within 1 mile range per day when parked outside, no matter the temperature. Its range is so short, I might never see a 2% drop after driving it some distance and parking it.

  • marmotking marmotking Posts:

    Sounds close to the expected self-discharge rate. From the manual, page 6.4: "On average, the Battery discharges at a rate of 1% per day". It goes on to specifically mention "...unplugged for an extended period of time (for example, at an airport when traveling)." | Found the manual on a non-Tesla site, so it may not be current.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Mine has more vampire drain than yours. At least a couple miles a day. I'd be more than happy with a mile a day.

  • rock2155 rock2155 Posts:

    More vampire drain is simply caused by a weak 12V battery that need more charging... It has been resolved but some car still have the "old" 12V battery.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    im guessing at this point after all the fires and needing the drive unit replaced twice already you are going to write as much as you can about the car without actually having to drive it. i would too.

  • k5ing k5ing Posts:

    That low battery drain is great, but you said that the next time you leave it, you're going to leave the power saving feature off? That's fine, but I hope that you leave the ICE cars idling while your away also just so you can compare the range lost on them too. Even playing field, and all that, you know.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @k5ing: You do realize that an internal combustion engine, at idle, eats fuel at the tone of ~1 gallon an hour. Easily so if we're talking about a relatively big engined car comparable to the Tesla's performance. So on one hand you're got a car that's out

  • k5ing k5ing Posts:

    @quadricycle: Yes, that was sort of my point. Turning off the long term power saving function is like leaving an ICE car idling. Interesting information? Maybe, but pointless since no one should do it other than to intentionally make the car look wors

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @k5ing again: No, turning off the power saving feature is not like leaving a car with an internal combustion engine idling. Look at the rates. An ICE car idling, is going to cost you $3.80 per hour, for a total of $270 after 71 hours if you don't run out

  • @bassrockerx: Perhaps due to lack of tester interest in driving the car, Edmunds will soon declare that the 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test is over and sell their aspiring lemon. But who will buy it? Their Cadillac ATS was been bought by an Edmun

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