Tesla EVs have gone through many design iterations over the years, and one of the most-revised parts of Tesla’s design has been the high voltage battery. The early years of the Model S and Model X saw everything from a 40 kWh battery pack to a massive 100 kWh pack, with plenty of packs in between.
But trying to figure out which battery pack a Tesla has installed can be confusing. Whether you have an early Model S or a 2023 Model Y (or are looking to buy either one on the used market), knowing what kind of battery is in a Tesla can help you understand any range and charging issues that might crop up later.
In this article, we’ll walk you through Tesla’s EV battery packs and show you how to check your Tesla for its battery type. Then, we’ll discuss how to get a good idea of a Tesla’s battery’s size in kWh.
Which Battery Type Is in My Tesla?
What type of battery is in a Tesla? Let’s start with some Tesla battery chemistry trivia:
Just so we’re clear, all Teslas, from the 2006 Roadster to the 2023 Model Y, use Lithium-Ion battery packs. The difference in battery packs between Teslas lies with the chemistry that goes along with the lithium and in the physical size and number of the cells included in each pack.
Tesla’s first battery packs—the ESS packs made for the Tesla Roadster—were made up of 6,831 18650-type cells (3.7v cells, each cylindrical with a size of 18mm x 65mm). The cells were arranged into 11 sheets of 9 “bricks”, each with 69 cells (11 sheets x 9 bricks x 69 cells = 6,831 total cells).
You can get an amazing inside view of how this works in this Roadster battery disassembly video from Gruber Motors:
These 18650 batteries (manufactured mostly by Panasonic) use varying amounts of Nickel, Cobalt, and Aluminum (NCA). The Model S and Model X also use 18650 cells (sometimes shortened to 1865) in 16 modules that contain varying numbers of cells depending on the year and battery pack size of the car. The chemistry of the Model S and X battery cells varies in cobalt content, but in 2023 they are all still NCA cells. Here’s a better inside look at the Model S and X battery pack from a teardown posted by Jehu Garcia:
For the Model 3 and Model Y, battery types and chemistries are varied.
The Model 3 started out with the same 1865 NCA battery packs as the Model S / Model S. Later iterations (and manufacturers other than Panasonic) have given the Model 3 2170 style NCA batteries (present on most Performance and Long Range Model 3s prior to 2023) and 2710 Nickel-Cobalt-Magnesium (NCM) batteries (used for Telsas manufactured in China and Berlin). Most recently, Tesla has turned to prismatic Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) batteries in the standard Model 3 (from CATL in China, 2021-2023) and possibly also in the 2023 Model 3 Long Range.
The Model Y went through a similar battery evolution to the Model 3 with one additional iteration: Tesla’s proprietary 4680 battery. When Munro & Associates analyzed the components from a Model Y battery, they concluded that the 4680 was an NMC (which is essentially the same as NCM) with an 8-1-1 ratio of nickel, magnesium, and cobalt.
Tesla NMC (4680)
|Model 3||Yes||Yes||Yes (China)||Yes||No|
|Model Y||Yes||Yes||Yes (China, Germany)||Yes||Yes|
NCA and LFP battery types have different characteristics that can change how your battery charges and how much range your Tesla actually has. For the standard versions of the Model 3 and Model Y, Tesla started installing LFP batteries during the materials shortages of 2021. Currently, the LFP batteries have a range reduction of about 10% from the standard NCA that was already in use, but they can charge up to 100% without any added stress/degradation of the battery pack. The one real downside to the LFP packs is their inability to charge in freezing temperatures (though a well-managed preheat routine can help negate this issue).
The NCA battery packs allow for more range and power than the LFP packs, but there are a few drawbacks. As we mentioned, NCA (and NCM) batteries should only be regularly charged up to 80% of their capacity to keep battery degradation at a minimum. They are also more susceptible to thermal runaway (battery fires), though these incidents are rare thanks to Tesla’s battery shielding methods and excellent thermal management system.
How to Tell if Your Tesla’s Battery Is Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum (NCA)
To determine if your Tesla has an NCA battery, navigate to Charging > Set Limit on your Tesla’s touchscreen.
If the slider options for “Daily” and “Trip” are both present, your Tesla likely has an NCA battery.
For Model Y manufactured in Austin, TX (or for Teslas manufactured in China or Germany): the battery may be an NCM (or NMC). This is particularly true for Giga Texas Model Y’s manufactured after 2022.
How to Tell if Your Tesla’s Battery Is Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)
To determine if your Tesla has an LFP battery, navigate to Controls > Software > Additional Vehicle Information on your Tesla’s touchscreen.
If you see “High Voltage Battery type: Lithium Iron Phosphate” listed, your Tesla has a LFP battery.
What Battery Size is In My Tesla?
Tesla used to use battery sizes in their branding for the Model S and Model X (2012-2019), but the actual number of kWh in each Tesla pack is something of a mystery. While you can get a good general idea of which pack your Tesla has by looking up the advertised capacity in kWH for your Model, year, and trim level, the actual pack on your Tesla won’t exactly match up with those values (and, in some cases, the available capacity was software-limited). We won’t go into why this is the case, but just know it’s what Tesla chose to do.
More recent Teslas are simply named by model and trim without mention of which pack size they have, so we have to get creative with how we check for a Tesla battery size.
One way we can try to determine pack size is by reading the part sticker on each Tesla battery pack. On some models, the size of the pack is listed right on the sticker.
Let’s take a look at how to find the battery sticker on each Tesla model:
Where to Find the Model S and Model S Battery Sticker
You can typically locate the battery pack sticker for the Model S and Model X on the inside of the wheel well behind the front passenger wheel.
Most Model S and Model X battery pack stickers should look like this:
Hopefully, you can see that the sticker lists this part as a high voltage battery with a number (sometimes printed twice) for capacity in kWh.
Note: occasionally, the sticker will list REM on the pack, which denotes that the pack was remanufactured. Usually, this will only be present on a Tesla that has undergone battery repair or replacement.
How to Find the Model 3 (and Model Y) Battery Sticker
For the Model 3 and Model Y, it’s much harder to get a good look at the battery sticker, but a member of Tesla Motor’s Club posted a neat trick to getting a good picture of it with a smartphone.
Unfortunately, the Model 3 (and Model Y) battery sticker has less information on it than the Model S and X stickers do. You’ll be able to see the part number, but it will be difficult to learn anything from that information without access to Tesla’s parts catalog.
Early Model 3s (and possibly the earliest Model Y) may have an additional sticker located under the frunk cover that shows battery size in kWh (see your Tesla manual for removing this cover; it typically provides access to the 12V battery and the air intake). However, later Model 3s (possibly after 2020 or 2021) and Model Ys don’t have the additional sticker from under the frunk panel.
What if You Can’t Find Your Tesla’s Battery Pack Sticker?
While it’s unusual for the battery sticker to fall off, sometimes the sticker has either been removed (Tesla sometimes does this with their Used Inventory if a pack has been refurbished / replaced) or it may not be readable.
Fortunately, there is at least one more way to get info on your Tesla’s battery pack: ask a Tesla Service Center Technician. Tesla’s service techs have additional access to your Tesla’s service information, either in their system or through your Tesla’s interface. They should be able to help you with some of your questions about which battery pack has been installed in your Tesla.
Last resort (disclaimer: we do NOT recommend that you try this, but it’s worth knowing about): you can access battery health information (which includes usable pack capacity) yourself through your Tesla’s service mode. However, please be warned that accessing service mode can result in actual damage to your Tesla. It’s always better not to go poking around and changing things in service mode when you haven’t been trained to use it.
Looking to Buy a Tesla With a Specific Battery Type?
Before we go (and before the Tesla battery type FAQ at the end of this post), we like to give a quick shout-out to you if you’re learning about batteries because you’re looking to buy a used Tesla.
Since we designed our used EV listings around used Teslas right from the beginning, we’ve got the early Model S neatly categorized by battery size. If you’re looking for a pre-2019 Model S (or Model X) with a specific battery in mind, it’s as easy as using our listings battery filter.
For other Tesla models, it’s not quite as easy. You can narrow down your search for specific Tesla battery types based on trim level and check the results against the info we gave you above about which model years had a particular battery style.
Best of luck on your battery pack sleuthing endeavors!
And hey, when it comes time to swap out your Tesla for your next EV (we have been hearing rumors that Cybertruck may finally start showing up in August), be sure to get a solid quote for your used Tesla from our EV Cash Offer network!
FAQ About Tesla Battery Packs
The following are common questions and answers about Tesla battery packs.
What Type of Batteries Do Teslas Use?
Teslas use Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries in a variety of sizes and battery chemistries. To date, Tesla’s Li-ion battery types have included Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum (NCA), Nickel-Cobalt-Magnesium (NCM), and Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) chemistries.
What Type of Battery Cells Are in a Tesla?
Over the years, Tesla battery cell formats have included 18650 cells, 2170 cells, LFP prismatic cells, and 4680 cells.
What Is the Tesla Model 3 Battery Type?
From 2017 until 2021, the Model 3 Battery type was an NCA battery using 2170 cells. In 2021, Tesla began using prismatic LFP batteries on the standard Model 3.
The Model 3 Long Range and Model 3 Performance likely still both use NCA battery types, though this hasn’t been verified.
What Is the Tesla Model Y Battery Type?
The Model Y battery types have included the 2170 NCA battery pack, the prismatic LFP battery pack, and Tesla’s new 4680 NMC battery pack.
What Kind of Battery Will the Cybertruck Have?
As far as we know, Tesla plans to use their own 4680 cells (NMC) for the Tesla Cybertruck battery pack.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace A Tesla Battery Pack?
Replacing a Tesla battery pack (any type) can cost anywhere from $7,000 to over $15,000. For more detailed replacement costs for a Tesla battery, click here.