Ridesharing vehicles endure far more wear and tear than private automobiles. This raises the question: Can Tesla Model 3s be effective ridesharing vehicles?
Dobson, a Model 3 owner who has utilized his car for Uber purposes for almost a year and a half, shed some light on this question in a recent video.
YouTube creator Kim Java featured Dobson in one of her videos in July 2022. In the video, Dobson traded in his Toyota Camry for a slightly used 2019 Tesla Model 3 to use as an Uber car. In a follow-up video posted on November 3, Kim Java caught up with Dobson again to see how the Model 3 fared.
The battery’s abrupt failure
Since July 2022, Dobson has driven his Model 3 for a total of 120,000 miles, a typical mileage for an Uber driver who operates six days a week. Dobson has covered a distance of over 300 miles per day, supercharging his car twice daily.
Recently, the high-voltage battery pack of Dobson’s Model 3 suddenly failed. Dobson argues that Tesla had not adequately prepared the Model 3 for the rigorous demands typically placed on a ridesharing vehicle. The battery’s failure was abrupt and not due to gradual degradation.
After 90,000 miles, the battery displayed 11% degradation. However, Dobson soon noticed a rapid decline in driving range.
After 110,000 miles, the Uber driver’s Model 3 had a range of only 175 miles at 100% State of Charge (SOC). This represented a degradation of almost 50%. According to InsideEVs, a properly functioning Tesla should only lose approximately 12% of battery capacity after covering 200,000 miles.
When Dobson raised the issue with Tesla, the company’s representatives dismissed the problem as typical degradation. Dobson continued driving his Model 3.
One day, Dobson charged the car overnight at home and had an available range of 170 miles. However, when he used a Supercharger a few hours later, the range did not exceed 35 miles. Therefore, the Model 3’s range declined 79% in a matter of hours.
Consequently, Dobson received a notification from Tesla instructing him to bring the car in for inspection. Dobson was forced to buy a new battery costing $9,000.
What went wrong?
On the surface, it appears as if Dobson was the victim of a defective battery. However, there’s also a strong case to be made that Dobson was supercharging his vehicle too frequently.
Compared to privately used EVs, ridesharing EVs cover more mileage and undergo more charging cycles in a week. Some argue that frequent Supercharging, especially beyond the recommended limit, can strain the battery. Dobson frequently charged his Model 3 to a 90% SOC, significantly above Tesla’s recommended 80% limit.
However, a recent Recurrent study found minimal to no variance in battery degradation between frequent and infrequent fast charging on Tesla EVs.
On its end, Uber is convinced that EVs work just as well for ridesharing services as gasoline cars. In 2020, the company announced that it would transition to an all-electric fleet by 2030. Although Uber won’t buy EVs for drivers directly, it will pay EV drivers extra compared to drivers of gasoline cars.
Dobson’s full 34-minute discussion with Kim Java is posted below. Check it out and decide for yourself what went wrong.