As electric vehicle (EV) ownership increases and becomes more mainstream, some car shoppers still have their doubts about switching away from vehicles with an internal combustion engine. Although the price of EVs has dropped, the EV tax credits continue, and the range has increased, many consumers are hesitant to own one. Car shoppers have a variety of concerns about taking the plunge, with many centered around relying on batteries and EV infrastructure. A common question is how long do electric car batteries last.
Three main worries are the lack of public EV charging options, a short driving range, and the need to potentially replace the EV battery. Also, people who live in multifamily buildings or lack a dedicated parking spot may have issues charging at home. In addition, lack of knowledge about EVs continues to be a hurdle to widespread adoption. In particular, consumers need more information about EV batteries and, specifically, how long they last.
Electric car battery technology has rapidly advanced in the last decade, and many vehicle shoppers hold onto outdated or inaccurate information on the topic. Therefore, it is critical for EV professionals to educate consumers and help dispel myths.
How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last?
While lead-acid car batteries last about 3 to 5 years, EV battery pack lifespan is much longer. Typically, today’s EV batteries last 10 – 20 years. Many car manufacturers offer an 8 to 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty on electric car batteries, which can help ease consumer concerns about battery longevity.
However, like solar panels, EV batteries don’t typically give out one day and stop operating. By contrast, they slowly degrade over time and become less effective in storing energy, decreasing vehicle range by 1% to 2% annually. This means the vehicle can eventually travel a shorter distance on a single charge.
What Kind Of Battery Packs Do EVs Use?
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) all use lithium-ion EV battery packs. Laptops, tablets, cell phones, e-bikes, and solar PV battery storage use lithium-ion batteries as well.
These battery banks have numerous advantages over other types because lithium-ion batteries have:
● High energy per unit mass
● High power-to-weight ratio
● Good temperature performance
● High energy efficiency
Advances in lithium-ion battery technology have allowed vehicle range to also increase due to greater energy density. Now, numerous EVs on the market have ranges over 300 miles on a full charge, including the BMW i4, Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 Long Range AWD, and Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Other models have moderate ranges, such as the Chevy Bolt at 259 miles. Some automakers have models with much smaller ranges, like the Nissan Leaf with a range of up to 149 miles.
Some EVs even have bidirectional charging abilities. This means that energy from the EV battery can power other loads. With this application, an EV can help power a home, business, the power grid, another EV, or specific loads. However, when an EV battery pack supplies power for other uses, it may reduce its driving range.
Factors That Impact Electric Car Battery Life
Numerous factors impact battery life, but only some are easily within the control of EV drivers. The level of lithium-ion battery degradation greatly impacts its ability to hold a charge. Eventually, drivers will want to replace electric vehicle batteries. Although degradation is inevitable, there are steps drivers can take to slow it down a bit, extending the useful life of the battery.
Maintain Certain EV Battery Charge Levels
Many EV professionals recommend keeping the battery charged between 20% and 80%. It can put strain on the battery pack when it is completely discharged or fully charged, which slowly reduces its capacity over time. Although charging to 100% enables the vehicle to travel farther, it isn’t recommended for optimum electric car battery longevity.
Avoid Storing The EV Battery At 100% Charge
If an EV needs to sit for a long time between uses, it's best for the electric car battery not to be fully charged or discharged. Thus, a state of charge between 20% and 80% is ideal. Smart charging stations can end charging at a certain level, helping drivers achieve the desired level of charge. Also, many electric cars have settings that control the maximum battery charge.
Avoid Regularly Using DC Fast Charging Stations
There is some concern in the EV industry about the habitual use of DC Fast Chargers (DCFC), also known as Level III chargers. Habitual rapid charging can cause a minor decline in battery capacity compared to Level II chargers. If possible, drivers should use DCFC chargers sparingly.
Monitor Exposure To Extreme Temperatures
EV batteries can have a shorter lifespan in warmer climates. Extremely warm temperatures while driving, charging, and parking can strain EV batteries, shortening their lifespan. Whenever possible, EV drivers should park in the shade on warm days.
FAQs About How Long Electric Car Batteries Last
Many potential EV drivers have questions about battery banks, EV battery life, and battery capacity because they are paramount when considering the cost of ownership and the driver experience.
How does electric car battery life compare to a gas-powered car battery?
The batteries in gas-powered cars usually last only about 3 to 5 years, although it depends somewhat on use patterns. However, these lead-acid car batteries cost dramatically less and are easier to recycle than lithium-ion EV batteries. In contrast, EV lithium-ion batteries can last 10 to 20 years and typically are covered under a manufacturer’s warranty for a certain number of years or miles.
Strict laws in many states result in nearly 100% of lead-acid batteries getting recycled. This is good news for the environment because it helps reduce the need for extracting virgin raw materials.
Do EV batteries come with manufacturer warranties?
For example, Tesla offers an 8-year or 120,000 miles (whichever happens first) warranty on batteries, with a minimum of 70% battery retention over the warranty period. Rivian offers an 8-year or 175,000-mile battery warranty at 70% retention.
How long does a Rivian battery last?
The Rivian R1T first hit the market in mid-2021, so it's a bit early to know Rivian battery lifespan definitively. However, the battery pack and electric drive train system comes with an 8-year/175,000 mile warranty for the Quad Motor and an 8-year/150,000 mile for the Dual Motor. This is really similar to the Tesla battery pack warranty, which also varies by the model.
Are EV batteries easy to recycle at the end of life?
Unfortunately, lithium-ion electric vehicle battery packs were not well designed with recyclability in mind and are difficult to recycle. It’s challenging and costly to extract valuable materials from these batteries.
How much does it cost to replace an EV battery?
Consumer concerns about EV battery replacement costs are justified considering it is the most expensive component. The replacement cost of an EV battery may be as little as $5,000 but can be as much as $15,000 for some models. The battery cost is largely reliant on its storage capacity, so larger batteries have a higher price.
The cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) of battery storage has fallen dramatically in recent years from $1,160 in 2010 to $128 in 2022. However, prices are expected to stabilize at $90 per kWh by 2031. Falling battery costs are very good news for EV drivers and can make EV ownership more appealing.
Although electric car battery technology has advanced and production capacity has increased, excessive demand for EV batteries could cause prices to spike if supply runs short. For that reason, the CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, are urging the mining industry to extract more raw materials for batteries to prepare for a surge in battery demand.
How do I know if my EV battery is bad?
If your electric car battery needs to be replaced, you may notice a significant decrease in driving range, slower vehicle charging times, and frequent issues with holding a charge. The electric car's onboard computer system may also display warning lights or messages related to the battery. If you suspect an electric car battery issue, it's advisable to have your EV inspected by a certified technician.
Do electric car batteries lose charge while parked?
EV batteries experience a phenomenon known as "vampire drain" or "phantom drain," where a small amount of charge is gradually lost when the vehicle is parked and not in use. This loss is attributed to various factors, including the car's onboard systems, such as the computer, sensors, and connectivity features.
While the amount of drain is typically only several percent of the total battery capacity, electric car owners may notice a small decrease in charge over extended periods of inactivity. Some electric vehicles allow owners to manage this by adjusting settings or using features like "camp mode" to minimize drain.
Are EVs cheaper to maintain than gas-powered cars?
The good news is that the cost of EV ownership is usually considerably less than for traditional gas-powered cars because they have fewer parts, require less maintenance, and it is cheaper to charge a battery than fill a gas tank.
For example, EVs have fewer fluids and moving parts, and regenerative braking causes the brake pads to wear out more slowly. These differences are particularly pronounced as vehicles age and would otherwise need more regular maintenance and costly repairs if they didn’t have electric motors.
What EV battery lasts the longest?
Tesla is known for having durable and long-lasting batteries, particularly in the Tesla Model S and Model X. However, advancements in battery technology are continuously occurring, and other EV manufacturers are making significant strides in extending battery lifespan.
Consumer Education On How Long EV Batteries Last Is Critical
When new technologies hit the market, consumers need to understand them before widespread adoption can be achieved. Many potential EV drivers have concerns about battery pack life, replacement costs, and how to extend their useful life. Therefore, as an EV charging infrastructure contractor, understanding and educating the market on this topic is essential to be a subject matter expert and to help potential EV car shoppers make informed choices.
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