How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last? And Other EV Battery Questions Answered
Are you currently entertaining the idea of owning an EV, or simply interested in the technology that helps power them? If so, you’ve more than likely asked the question “how long do electric car batteries last?”
It’s a common question in the ever-expanding world of electric vehicles and with good reason, and that reason revolves around something known as “range anxiety,” which is the name given to the fear that your vehicle lacks the necessary energy to get you where you need to go.
This anxiety is nothing new and will continue to be a barrier to entry for a lot of drivers still on the fence who are yet to transition.
Still, in our experience, those suffering from it tend to do so because they lack a level of understanding. In other words, they haven’t looked into it long enough to form an informed opinion.
Hopefully, this changes as we explain how long these batteries last alongside a range of battery-based questions that might be weighing on your mind.
Let’s get going.
Unless you’re a trained professional, don’t ever try to remove your electric car battery
What Kind of Batteries are Used in Electric Cars?
Most electric vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries, the same batteries found in various personal electronics such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops. They’re also used in electric bikes, electric toothbrushes, tools, hoverboards, scooters, and solar panels (backup storage).
This is also the case for plug-in hybrid vehicles, vehicles that also pull power from a lithium-ion battery pack.
These batteries are ideal for vehicles as they have a very high energy density and are less likely, compared to other batteries, to lose their charge when not in use (something known as ‘self-discharge’).
Originally, nickel-cobalt-aluminium was used to power electric cars like the 2011 Model S. These batteries were known as “18650s,” a name that references the dimensions of the batteries which are 18 mm in diameter and 65 mm in length.
Tesla would go through multiple batteries over the years before settling on the lithium-ion batteries you see today.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries are also used to some degree in hydrogen electric vehicles (HEVs), however, these vehicles are quite different compared to EVs and are a few years behind, technology-wise.
How Do Electric Car Batteries Work?
In simple terms, electric cars are powered by, you guessed it, electricity that is stored within a battery pack that directs power to a motor, this causes the wheels to turn and the vehicle to move.
You were looking for a more in-depth answer to this question?
Okay, here you go:
Electric car batteries store and convert chemical energy into electricity, and within this battery are electrochemical cells, each of which consists of two half-cells or electrodes.
One half-cell, called the negative electrode, has an overabundance of the tiny, negatively charged subatomic particles known as electrons. The other half, called the positive electrode, has a deficit of electrons.
When the two halves are connected by a wire or an electrical cable, the electrons will flow from the negative side to the positive side. The energy this generates can be harnessed for a variety of purposes, such as powering a car in the case of EVs.
If you decide to dig deeper into the technology, you’ll come across the terms kilowatt hours (kWh) and ampere-hours (Ah).
Here’s what they mean:
- Kilowatt-Hours: This can be rather confusing to grasp as there is no standard measure for efficiency in EVs. Let’s say you’re driving around in a Tesla Model S with a 75 kWh battery and a range of 230 miles. If that’s the case, you should get around 32.6 kWh per hundred miles.
- Ampere Hours: If your EV’s capacity isn’t in kWhs then it’s going to be in Ah instead. Ampere hours measure the charge delivered by the battery, whereas kilowatt-hours measure the energy delivered.
If you want to compare models to get the best bang for your buck, then be sure to look at the batteries voltage and then use this calculation:
Amps x Voltage = Power in Watts
‘How long does an electric car battery last?’ is a very popular EV question
How Long Electric Car Batteries Last?
The answer to this question tends to vary depending on where you look, some say up to 15 years, others say up to 12 – some go even longer.
According to the National Grid Group, “The battery will outlive the car. Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.”
Manufacturers guarantee at least 100,000 miles out of each battery pack, if not more. This is why they offer warranties that last up to 8 years or up to 100,000 miles on average (you’ll see this later when we touch on battery warranties).
How long you get out of your electric car battery often depends on how well you treat the battery itself, as some actions can cause it to degrade much quicker, again, making it difficult to give you a clear answer on how long they last.
We’d recommend conversing with the manufacturer/dealer to learn such information as, again, every car is different and will require some level
Why Do EV Batteries Degrade?
Unfortunately, every battery has its limits and we are far from a future where batteries are limitless. Batteries degrade over time through consistent use or through wearing them out in other ways, such as overcharging the battery.
It’s worth keeping in mind that battery degradation will only affect the range of the vehicle. It won’t knock the ability to accelerate or any of the other performance benefits.
That said, range is arguably much higher up the list in terms of priorities than performance.
This sounds scary on paper but the degradation of the battery isn’t as sudden as it might seem. You’ll more than likely not even notice the difference. Again, it takes years for a battery to degrade fully, and it’s not like you have zero options if it does.
How Can I Prevent EV Battery Degradation?
There are many ways to slow down the deterioration of your electric car’s battery, some of which are very easy to do and keep up with.
For example, degrading can occur faster when you fully charge or completely deplete your electric vehicle’s battery. This is because recharging the battery generates heat, and too much heat can damage it over time.
To avoid this, we’d recommend keeping your car juiced up between 50 to 80% as often as possible. Doing so will ensure that the battery doesn’t overheat which will extend how far the car can go more often.
To assist this, some electric cars stop charging altogether when they reach capacity. Others slow down their charging for the last 20 per cent, which is why public charging points often quote the time it takes to charge a car to 80%.
Here are some other ways to extend the lifespan of your electric car battery:
- Limit the number of times you visit a fast charger, slow chargers put less stress on the battery as your main way of charging
- Try to keep an even temperature when driving, too hot or too cold can affect performance
- Avoid aggressively accelerating your car as this can cause wear and tear on the battery
How Can I Replace an Electric Car Battery?
Replacing an electric car battery requires some additional assistance, as you can imagine. The complexity of the build means you need to visit a dedicated professional, first to consult with them about the battery, and then again to plan your next steps.
You don’t always need to source these individuals on your own. If you’ve taken out a warranty with your chosen manufacturer, odds are, they already have someone in mind and can help you arrange what happens next.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to remove the battery yourself, unless you have an idea of what you’re doing and are happy to risk losing a lot of money, potentially.
What Happens to Old EV Batteries?
Removed electric car batteries are often recycled to create new batteries. Rarely in the modern day are they simply disposed of and forgotten with no thought given to the environment.
Some older batteries are actually used to power up buildings! The benefits of being a lithium-ion battery means that they can be repurposed to fit many new uses.
In some cases, the old batteries are sold on the second-hand market as they still have some life left in them.
Just keep in mind that the value of these batteries is bound to fluctuate as new batteries are introduced and range is improved upon. A car battery worth thousands now might end up being worth half of that over the next few years.
Which EVs Have the Longest Battery Warranty?
Buying an electric car will almost always come with a battery warranty attached. Do keep in mind that these warranties tend to apply to new vehicles only, meaning second-hand vehicles might not apply.
These warranties are somewhat essential, guaranteeing that you can get back out on the road quickly should anything happen to the battery.
Such warranties typically guarantee a minimum of 70% battery capacity at the end of the cover period.
We’ve picked out some of the best manufacturer warranties, for reference:
- Audi: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- BMW: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Citroen: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Fiat: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Honda: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Hyundai: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Jaguar: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Kia: 7 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Mercedes-Benz: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- MG: 7 Years/ 80,000 Miles
- Mini: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Nissan: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Peugeot: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Renault: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Skoda: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Tesla Model S/X: 8 Years/ 150,000 Miles
- Tesla Model 3/Y: 8 Years/ 120,000 Miles
- Vauxhall: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
- Volkswagen: 8 Years/ 100,000 Miles
Are they good for the planet though?
Are Electric Car Batteries Bad for the Environment?
Battery electric vehicles don’t produce any tailpipe emissions like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, making them a lot cleaner compared to petrol cars. Of course, this doesn’t mean EVs don’t have a carbon footprint – as everything does to some extent.
Generating the electricity needed for the vehicle to run can produce pollution and could produce greenhouse gases in the process.
How much pollution is made depends entirely on the amount of electricity produced.
All of that said, studies have found that battery-electric cars (BEVs) produce the least pollution from being built to being scrapped. They aren’t perfect by any means, but they’re still better than traditional means of transportation/fuelling.
Will Electric Car Battery Technology Improve?
Yes, yes it will.
We’ve already seen massive leaps forward when you compare the electric cars of today to the electric cars of yesteryear. Range is constantly getting better due to the capacity sizes of these batteries going up.
Degradation is likely to still be an issue in the future, but we believe the day might come when someone invents a truly unlimited battery that never runs out of juice, becoming self-sustaining.
We don’t know how it’s going to happen or who’s going to do it, but we’re keeping an open mind.
How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last? And Other EV Battery Questions Answered
And there you have it, hopefully, we’ve answered every question you had on electric car batteries, including how long they last, why they degrade, what warranties you have available, and so on.
The one thing we’d like you to take away from this post is that electric car batteries are in continuous development, meaning they are most certainly going to improve with time.
This is sure to have an impact on the durability and longevity of these batteries as the technology builds on top of what is currently available, which isn’t to say what we have now should be avoided.
Not at all.
Many have already made the transition from petrol to electric when it comes to vehicles, and the number of adopters grows day by day!
Range anxiety didn’t deter them and it shouldn’t deter you, at least in our opinion.
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