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Monday, November 9, 2015

An Electric Motor that Lasts for One Million Miles? Tesla is Working on It.

As reported by Treehugger: There were many interesting bits of info that came out of Tesla's last quarterly earnings, and we mentioned many in this article. There was one thing that didn't make the cut at the time, but is still quite interesting, especially for those of us who like to keep vehicles for a long time but hate mechanical problems. Elon Musk mentioned that Tesla has changed its target endurance for its drive units (the part that hosts the electric motor, or motors on the dual-motor models).
Tesla Electric Drive UnitTesla/Screen capture
Up to now, they were aiming for 200,000 miles, which isn't bad. But the new goal is a lot more ambitious, and if achieved, will show another way in which electric vehicles are superior to gasoline ones; there's a lot less mechanical complexity, fewer moving parts and fluids sloshing around, and fewer things that can go wrong. Here's Musk on the conference call:
We are very happy with the quality of the drive unit. We changed the goal of the drive unit endurance from being approximately 200,000 miles to being a million miles – just basically we want drive units that just never wear out. That’s our goal. I think we made really good progress in that direction. the drive unit that are going out now and for the last several months have been excellent.
Tesla Infinite Mile warrantyTesla/Promo image
Musk admitted to problems with drive units in the past, but claims that these have been fixed now, and that any problems would be covered anyway by the 'infinite mile warranty' (for 8 years) launched last year. Here's what he wrote at the time:
The Tesla Model S drive unit warranty has been increased to match that of the battery pack. That means the 85 kWh Model S, our most popular model by far, now has an 8 year, infinite mile warranty on both the battery pack and drive unit. There is also no limit on the number of owners during the warranty period.
Moreover, the warranty extension will apply retroactively to all Model S vehicles ever produced. In hindsight, this should have been our policy from the beginning of the Model S program. If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines, with far fewer moving parts and no oily residue or combustion byproducts to gum up the works, then our warranty policy should reflect that.
Here's a video produced by Tesla showing how they make their electric drive units. They make the motors in-house to get them exactly how they want them, rather than use something off-the-shelf made by a supplier.