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How often do electric cars need to replace batteries?

How long do electric car batteries last?

What’s the true cost of owning an EV? That would depend on the lifespan of its battery.

While the battery life of electrics varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, you can expect it to compete with (or even exceed) the lifespan of an Internal Combustion Engines’ (ICE) components

How do electric car batteries work?

Electric cars are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, while ICE vehicles have lead-acid batteries.

Lithium-ion battery packs have higher energy density than lead-acid batteries, and therefore, can produce more power than their size, which is perfect for electric cars.

In theory, an electric car with a lithium-ion battery pack performs similarly to a regular ICE car with a full tank of gasoline.

This is possible with the right combination of battery capacity, curb weight, and aerodynamic efficiency.

Treat these batteries as a scaled-up version of the lithium-ion batteries found in mobile phones.

EVs use battery packs consisting of thousands of individual Li-ion cells, powerful enough to move a 3,000-pound car.

While charging, electricity causes chemical changes inside these EV battery packs. These changes are then reversed to produce electricity when your car is on the road.

The battery is connected to one or more electric motors, which drive the wheels.

By pressing the accelerator, the car will feed power to the motor, which gradually consumes the energy stored in the battery pack.

How long do electric car batteries last?

Generally speaking, the best way to gauge the battery lifespan of your electric vehicle is through the manufacturer’s warranty.

Replacing a battery pack can be costly, so automakers would want to set your expectations right to avoid overestimating its resiliency and longevity and end up shouldering replacement costs.

So, the battery’s limited warranty is a pretty good estimate of how long a typical EV battery pack can last.

The law mandates at least eight years or 100,000 miles of battery warranty for all EVs sold today.

This warranty doesn’t only cover battery failures, it also serves as a guarantee against battery degradation.

Tesla’s battery warranty says that an EV such as the Tesla Model 3 should maintain at least 70% of its charging capacity while it’s still under warranty.

If the charge capacity falls below that range within the warranty period, Tesla will cover all the costs of replacement.

See, for each completed charging cycle (one charge cycle is when you’ve used an amount that equals 100% of your electric car’s battery capacity), you lose a fraction of its battery capacity.

This could take a toll on your electric vehicle’s battery pack and affect your car’s driving range in the long run.

On average, EVs lose an average of 2.3% of their battery capacity per year.

To put that into perspective, if you buy an EV with a 200-mile range, you’ll only lose about 23 miles of range after 5 years.

Will EV batteries be recycled at the end of their working life?

For potential electric car buyers out there who are worried about the environmental effects of replacing an EV’s battery pack, don’t fret.

Many manufacturers are researching how EV batteries can be recycled once they’re past their prime.

While they may no longer be fit for electric cars, your car’s battery pack can be repurposed to power homes and buildings.

However, researchers are yet to find a solution for when they’re no longer recyclable.

Once EV batteries are removed, they’ll still be suitable for other demanding jobs like serving as energy storage devices in the electricity network or in the home.

When an EV battery reaches the end of its working life, it’ll be recycled by taking out valuable materials such as lithium salts, cobalt, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and plastic.

How do EV batteries degrade?

EV car batteries don’t just stop working unless there’s a serious defect. A battery’s ability to charge declines over time because of several factors.

Some of these factors include overcharging, frequent rapid charging, extreme temperatures, and lack of regular maintenance.

Unlike lithium-ion batteries found in your cell phone or laptop, electric cars sold these days have battery thermal management systems which prevent battery degradation.

The BMS regulates charging and discharging, ensuring both are done in a way that’s least damaging to the battery cells.

It can allocate energy to ensure cells are being used evenly or set aside a certain capacity in order to not strain the battery.

How to extend EV battery life

Follow EV manufacturer guidelines

It’s important that you follow your manufacturer’s guidelines on how to care for your specific battery electric vehicle model and always use quality EV Chargers.

Each automaker utilizes different battery types and technologies, so each will have its own set of charging instructions.

Maintain moderate temperatures

Extreme temperatures can affect battery life retention.

Lithium-ion batteries find it difficult to transfer any charge in freezing temperatures, while extreme heat can trigger exothermic reactions in the battery, causing it to catch fire.

Minimize rapid charging

While you can treat your EV to occasional trips to a fast charger, frequent rapid charging can cause battery degradation.

Fast charging produces a lot of heat that could wear out your battery in the long run.

Can you replace an EV battery?

Just like the battery in internal combustion engine cars, the battery in your EV will eventually have to be replaced.

Generally, EV manufacturers cover the first eight years or 100,000 miles, which means you’ll get new batteries for free if it’s still within that time period.

Otherwise, you’ll have to spend around $10,000 to $12,000 for an EV battery pack.

This high cost is largely due to the fact that materials needed to make EV batteries are still rare and hard to source.


How does EV battery longevity compare to ICE vehicles?

EV batteries have a mandated warranty of 8 years, 100,000 miles, far exceeding the 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty for the drivetrain of conventional cars. Many electric cars can last up to 200,000 miles.

What happens to EV batteries when they no longer power cars reliably and quickly?

While they may no longer be fit for electric cars, your car’s battery pack can be repurposed to power homes and buildings.

Once EV batteries are removed, they’ll still be suitable for other demanding jobs like serving as energy storage devices in the electricity network or in the home.

When an EV battery reaches the end of its working life, it’ll be recycled by taking out valuable materials such as lithium salts, cobalt, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and plastic.

Is it worth it to replace the battery in an electric car?

Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, replacing your EV’s battery is expensive and not always possible. So, check with your car manufacturer first.

How much does it cost to replace a battery in an electric car?

You’ll have to spend around $10,000 to $12,000 to replace an EV battery pack.

How many miles do electric car batteries last?

Most EV manufacturers peg their batteries to last at least 100,00 miles. But newer models are estimated to last up to 200,000 miles.

Range & batteries

Discover how far an electric vehicle can go and get the lowdown on batteries.

EVs have the everyday range you need

Battery range — how far you can drive on a single charge — depends on the type of EV, its battery capacity, the type of roads (flat, hilly or winding) and your driving style.

Find an estimated range for specific vehicles on the Vehicle Emissions and Energy Economy Label or the Rightcar website. For most new EVs, a drive of 300km is within easy reach.

Use your odometer or Google Maps to record how far you drive in a typical day or week – you might be surprised how easily an EV can meet your needs.

  • Find an EV’s range
  • Vehicle Emissions and Energy Economy Labels

90% of travel by car in New Zealand is less than 90km.

Ministry of Transport

EV batteries are designed to last many years

Most new EVs have battery warranties that guarantee the battery for a certain length of time (typically 5-8 years, sometimes longer) or distance (such as 100,000km).

Over time, EV battery capacity gradually decreases the more it is used, like a mobile phone. It can also happen when a vehicle is parked up and not being used.

Decreased capacity means the car won’t travel as far on a single charge. It will still work well, and will be a good option for car buyers who don’t need to travel so far between charges.

Get the best out of a battery

Looking after your battery will help to maintain capacity for many years.

  • Only recharge the battery when needed. Many EV owners find they only need to charge every few days.
  • Limit exposure to extreme heat or cold. In very hot weather (over 30 degrees C), park and charge in the shade or in a garage. In freezing temperatures, follow battery care instructions in the manual. Some batteries have thermal management systems that use a small amount of energy to protect the battery by regulating its temperature.
  • Check fast charging advice. Frequent fast charging may decrease battery capacity over time, but it depends on the EV model and the climate it is operating in. The EV manual or manufacturer should provide more details.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s servicing recommendations. EVs should always be serviced by a qualified technician.
  • Don’t store with a fully charged battery. If your EV won’t be used for a long time, follow the battery care instructions in the manual.

Assess the battery before you buy

If buying a used EV, it’s important to get the battery properly checked.

You’ll see battery condition described in a number of ways including percentage of battery capacity remaining, State of Health (‘SoH’) and, for a Nissan Leaf, how many bars the car will charge to out of 12.

A data reader can be plugged in and a battery health check performed – you can even have the results sent to your smartphone.

The battery’s State of Health is a useful way to judge how much life a used EV’s battery has left. It describes the overall condition of a battery – not its current charge. For some vehicles, on-board diagnostics can provide data that will help you determine how much longer you can expect it to last, based on how it has been used to date.

SoH can be more useful than an odometer reading. For example, an EV may have very low mileage but a reduced SoH if it has been in storage for some time, or has been excessively fast-charged. An EV with slightly higher mileage but better SoH may be a better option.

Old batteries can be refurbished or replaced

When an EV battery no longer provides a useful driving range – typically after many years – it can be refurbished or replaced. Sometimes it’s possible to just replace the dead cells within a battery. If a full replacement is required, you may be able to improve the range of your EV by installing a new battery with more capacity, providing it’s compatible with your vehicle.

A servicing industry for battery replacement, refurbishment and repair is growing as the New Zealand EV market matures and batteries begin to age. Battery replacement should only be carried out by a qualified service provider, such as an approved service agent for the vehicle.

Although a new battery is expensive, costing several thousand dollars, EVs are cost effective even when battery replacement is taken into account. Research by EECA shows that even if owners need to replace the battery, an EV can compete with a petrol car in terms of whole of life cost.

What happens to the old battery?

The used battery still has value. It can be refurbished, repurposed or recycled – for example, to store electricity from solar PV panels, or raw materials reclaimed. You may even be paid for the old battery.

Members of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA) have committed to a code of practice to have suitable systems in place for the use, capture, return, refurbishment, reuse, recycling or disposal of EV and hybrid batteries, with the aim that no batteries end up in landfill.

The Battery Industry Group (B.I.G.) is working to design a ‘circular’ product stewardship scheme for large batteries. B.I.G. will create safety guidance and explore second-life options and innovative end-of-life solutions that help create a circular economy for large batteries.

B.I.G. is a collaboration between over 80 businesses across energy, waste, transport and battery sectors which have large batteries (stationary and mobile) in their value chain.

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