There's probably no better way to convince people that electric vehicles are as good as internal combustion cars for every use case scenario than having EVs undergo tough trials, and ride-hailing vehicles have it tougher than most. So can a Tesla Model 3 handle that kind of punishment long-term?
Yes and no, according to Dobson, a Model 3 owner who has used his car for Uber duty for almost a year and a half now. YouTube creator Kim Java first featured him in one of her videos in July 2022, when he traded in his Toyota Camry for a slightly used 2019 Tesla Model 3 to use as an Uber car. He spent $53,000 on the Tesla – more than he had ever spent on a car – but he immediately started making savings in fuel and maintenance. The savings added up to $10,000 since he bought it, which is impressive. However, he was unlucky to make the purchase before the EV maker started cutting prices like crazy. Had he waited a few more months, he would have gotten a much better deal on his Model 3 Standard Range Plus.
Alas, that is not his main problem with the Tesla. Dobson covered 120,000 miles since July 2022, which is a lot for a regular user but quite normal for an Uber driver who drives six days a week, more than 300 miles a day, and supercharges twice a day.
The big problem is that the high-voltage battery pack of his Model 3 died recently, and he claims it's because Tesla didn't prepare the Model 3 for the daily grind a ride-sharing vehicle typically has to deal with. The battery died suddenly, Dobson says, and not through progressive degradation.
In a previous video shot when the car had covered 90,000 miles, the battery showed degradation of 11 percent, but after crossing the 110,000-mile mark, he began to see a quick drop in degradation and driving range – down to 170-180 miles at 100 percent SOC.
There may have been something wrong with the battery because a Tesla should lose only about 12 percent of battery capacity after 200,000 miles, according to the EV maker's 2022 Impact Report.
Dobson claims Tesla told him the degradation was attributed to regular wear and tear, but he didn't agree with that, arguing that the degradation was too rapid. It's not clear if the fact that he typically did two Supercharging stops a day, often charging to 90 or 95 percent state of charge, was a factor in the demise of the Model 3's battery.
A typical ride-sharing EV covers more miles in a week and goes through more charging cycles than most EVs for private use cover in months. Some claim that frequent Supercharging, especially when done over a recommended limit, can put significant stress on the battery, though a recent Recurrent study showed little to no difference in battery degradation between frequent fast charging and rare fast charging on Tesla EVs.
Whether or not Supercharging was to blame, one day the Uber driver charged the car overnight at home and had 170 miles of available range, but when he used a Supercharger later in the day, the range didn't go past 35 miles. At that point, he received a notification from Tesla to bring in the car for a check.
He took the car to Tesla Service for an evaluation and was later told that it would cost $9,000 to replace the battery. He accepted that, and he now limits charging to 80 percent at Tesla's recommendation, typically getting 160-170 miles of range from that.
Tesla gave him only a one-year warranty on the new battery, leading Dobson to suspect the battery was not new but refurbished. He also believes that because his car's fully charged battery theoretically offers 207 miles of range at 100 percent SOC, which is 14 percent less than what an identical Tesla Model 3 with a brand-new battery would get.
Dobson goes into great detail in the 34-minute video, so make sure you watch it so that you can get an idea of what exactly happened here. (We would have loved to get Tesla's side of the story about this case, but as you know, the EV maker does not maintain a PR department in the United States.)