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Who owns the battery in an electric car?

Updated: Electric Car Battery Replacement Costs

This is part of a series on EV batteries and degradation. If you want to go deeper, here’s an article that follows an EV battery replacement from start to finish. You may also be interested in reading more about how long EV batteries can be expected to last.

When it comes to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, many shoppers wonder how long it will be until they have to replace their battery. Then what will it cost to replace that battery?

We know that batteries degrade as a result of a phenomenon called “calendar aging.” Like human aging, calendar aging is a baseline of decline over time. Other types of battery performance loss are tied to use and exposure. We wrote an entire article on battery degradation.

I go through the details and cite examples for each EV model, but here is a quick overview of the vehicles that I cover in this article.

One interesting thing is that since we originally wrote this article in 2021, the price of second hand EV batteries is actually increasing.

It seems counterintuitive, but as more people go electric, there is more demand to replace older batteries. At the same time, batteries that are in cars are not degrading as fast as expected. Plus, there is a new wave of second-life battery storage companies also trying to buy second hand batteries. This leaves used EV owners competing with each other — and battery storage companies — for salvage or junk yard batteries, and driving the price up. — Liz Najman, EV Market Researcher

Hopefully, the recent decline in lithium prices reverses this trend soon.

How Much Does an EV Battery Cost to Replace?

EV battery replacements range from $5,000 to $20,000 based on the pack, size and manufacturer. If a battery is within its manufacturer warranty, typically 8 years and 100,000 miles, then you should get a replacement battery at no extra cost.

But what if it is out of warranty?

Battery replacements are still rare so up-to-date data on costs can be difficult to find. In our community of 15,000 EV drivers, the rate of battery failure is only 1.5%. The chart below shows the likelihood of needing a battery replacement, based on our data. Note that the Chevrolet Bolt and Hyundai Kona EV had much higher rates of battery replacements due to widespread manufacturer’s recalls.

As battery prices continue to decline, the price you would pay today is different than the price you would pay next year or in 5 years. in 2019, the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School for Business aggregated data found across academia, news, search engines, experts within the industry, and public statements by manufacturers.

They found a 16% decline in battery pack cost between 2007 and 2019. The authors estimated in 2019 that the average cost of battery packs was $161/kWh. With that estimate, in 2019, the cost of an out-of-warranty 100 kWh battery, as is common in Tesla long range vehicles, would be at least $16,100 before labor, taxes, etc. If the trend in battery price reduction stays constant, then by 2025 the price in 2019$ should be ~$56/kWh, or $5,600 to replace a 100 kWh battery. That’s a big change in overall cost.

However, it’s worth noting that the overall downward market trend in the price of lithium faltered in 2021 — 2022 and the price of battery components actually began to rise a bit. As of March 2023, the price is coming back down, though, and has fallen nearly 20% since the beginning of the year. High demand for old lithium ion batteries will keep prices for battery replacements stable for at least another year.

BMW i3 EV battery replacement

BMW i3 Battery Replacement Cost

  • A BMWi3 battery pack with originally 22 kWh of capacity, but with approximately 17.14 kWh of capacity today is selling for $2,500 on ebay. This equates to roughly $145/kWh.
  • In 2016, BMW reported that replacing an i3 battery would cost about $16,000. This was for the 2013-2016 model years which have 22 kWh packs, equating to $727/ kWh in real 2016 dollars.
  • InsideEV reported in 2015 that a 21.6 kWh battery pack would cost $13,725, equating to $635/kWh. These prices were based on an online parts ordering store.
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Chevy Bolt battery replacement

Chevy Bolt Battery Replacement Cost

As you may be aware, currently all Chevy Bolt batteries are set to be replaced under a recall for a manufacturing defect in their batteries. Perhaps it can help you get a sense of when the pre-recall Chevy Bolt batteries may no longer have met your needs and may need a battery replacement. Below are some examples of Chevy battery replacements costs prior to the recall.

  • According to a post on, a dealership quoted a Chevy Bolt owner in November 2018 $16,250 for a battery replacement, with $870 for labor. Given that Chevy Bolt batteries are rated at 60 kWh, that equates to approximately $271/kWh, about 68% higher than the 2019 average price.
  • According to Chevrolet themselves, in 2017 they reported that the price of a battery pack for a Chevy Bolt was $262/kWh.
  • According to a 2020 Greencars report, a 66 kWh Chevrolet Bolt battery costs ~$16,000, or $250/kWh.

Cost of a Chevy Volt battery replacement

Chevy Volt Battery Replacement Cost

  • According to a 2020 Greencars report, 16 kWh Chevy Volt batteries cost ~$4,000 to replace, about $240/kWh.
  • A 2011-2015 Chevy Volt Remanufactured Battery Pack is priced at $6,000 at Greentec Auto. These batteries have 17.1 kWh of capacity, putting this price at $350/kWh in 2021 dollars. Sold with new modules, that same battery pack is priced at $8,000, placing it at $467/kWh in 2021.
  • For the 2016-2018 Chevy Volt, battery packs are priced at roughly $3,000 on ebay. These batteries are 18.4 kWh, equating to $163/kWh to $152/kWh.
  • There can be a long waitlist for Volt batteries!

Hyundai Ioniq PHEV Replacement Cost

A replacement battery for a 2018 or 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid has an MSRP of $2,853.53 as of August 2021. With a battery size of 1.56 kWh in a Hyundai Ioniq HEV, that equates to ~$1,829/kWh, approximately 1335% more than the 2020 $137/kWh average cited above.

Nissan LEAF battery replacement cost

Nissan Leaf Battery Replacement Cost

We also wrote an entire LEAF guide to battery replacement. While it has some of the same info, it could be helpful to dive a bit deeper.

According to a post in the forum, as of Jan 30, 2020, the cost of labor and replacement of a 24 kWh battery in a Nissan Leaf is $5,500. It appears the battery itself would cost $4,500, placing the $/kWh at $187/kWh, which is 36% above the quoted 2020 $137/kWh price.

  • According to a 2020 Greencars report, the Nissan Leaf 40 kWh battery costs $5,500 or about $137/kWh, which is right on target for the average 2020 price.
  • A 2013 Nissan Leaf owner in Canada reported that a dealership quoted him for $15,000 CAD for a replacement battery.

According to a 2020 report from Cashcarbuyers, a replacement pack for a LEAF can run you the following, without labor:

  • 30 kWh pack price ranges from $3,500 to $4,500, at most $150/kWh.
  • 40 kWh pack price ranged between $6,500 and $7,500, at most $187.5/kWh.
  • 62 kWh battery pack is expected to be between $8,500 and $9,500, at most $153/kWh.

However, anecdotal data from our own Recurrent drivers in the past few years shows that demand — and price — for LEAF replacements has actually grown quite a bit since 2020. A Facebook group dedicated to LEAF battery replacements reports that swapping out an old 24 kWh pack with a new 62 kWh pack retails at $19,000. In Atlanta, replacement packs with installation are going for $12,000 for a 40 kWh pack installed, and $16,500 for a 62 kWh. At these prices, you’re looking at $266 — $300/ kWh, including labor.

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Tesla Model 3 replacement

Tesla Model 3 Battery Replacement Cost

Current Automotive posted the 2020 receipt of one customer’s replacement of a remanufactured 75kWh battery in a Tesla Model 3:

  • Battery: $13,500
  • Labor $2,299.27
  • Total: $15,799.27

This equates to $180/kWh which is about 31% higher than the Bloomberg cited average of $137/kWh. Since Tesla Model 3s are so new, there is likely very little data on repair costs in the public domain.

However, there is the occasional accident that requires a battery replacement in a Model 3. Based on data we’ve seen for more recent, accident-related replacements, the total amount has come down to $10 — $12,000, with 80-90% of that going for the battery itself. However, it is encouraging that the total price has dropped, landing the cost between $133/kWh — $161/kWh. This is more in line with the Bloomberg estimate.

Tesla Model S replacement cost

Tesla Model S Battery Replacement Cost

We wrote an article dedicated to Tesla battery replacements, but you can get the summary here.

  • In April 2021, FindMyElectric reported that there were a few cases where the price of the batteries cost $12,000 to $15,000.
  • A used 2014 Tesla Model S owner reported that a full battery pack replacement would have cost $20,000, including labor, in Dec 2020.
  • On Tesla motors club in 2021, there are tworeports of owners of (2012 and 2013) Model S’s being quoted $22k for full battery replacements out of warranty.

VW e-Golf battery replacement cost

VW e-Golf Battery Replacement Cost

A replacement battery for a 2017 to 2018 VW e-Golf is quoted as $23,442.91 by Pignataro VW as of August 2021. Given that the 2017 e-golf battery pack is 35.8 kWh, that equates to $654/kWh, a whopping 477% more expensive than the average 2020 price.

Battery Monitoring to Avoid Replacement

It should not be a surprise that treating your battery nicely can expand its life and delay replacement. Here are some tips on how to give your battery the TLC it needs.

  • Avoid extreme high or low battery levels.
  • Limit DC fast charging to special occasions.
  • Small, frequent charges are better than large, infrequent charges.
  • Get your battery to room temperature before charging when possible. Usually this is accomplished by your vehicle automatically once plugged in.
  • Park in the shade during warm months to keep your battery cooler.
  • A/C and heat use a lot of energy so consider preheating your car while it’s plugged in or using seat warmers.
  • Accelerate slowly to increase range.
  • Avoid excessive highway speeds.
  • Check out your manuals battery maintenance tips.
  • Swap your tires for more efficient tires; seasonally appropriate.

Are you an EV owner? Join the Recurrent EV community for free personalized reports on your vehicle. Not only do you get reports that offer insights into how well your EV is doing, but you contribute to a fast growing community of EV drivers who want to help others benefit from EVs, too!

What is battery lease?

If you’ve been looking for an electric car and there’s mention of a ‘battery lease’ in the advert, you’ll need to go into any negotiations having done your homework as it’s a pretty baffling arrangement. Get it wrong and you’ll picture yourself being a moaner leaser.

It’s less common now, but there are still cars for sale which could have leases, especially Renault, Nissan Leaf and some smart models.

A battery lease scheme means that you buy most of the electric car as normal, but have to rent the battery. This remains the property of the car maker and you pay a monthly fee to rent it, depending on how many miles you think you’ll cover and the length of time you sign up for. Typically it’s between £50 and £100, which might be about the same as you’d pay in fuel for a conventional car.

Using this sort of scheme brings down the overall price you’ll pay for the car and crucially gives a guarantee about the condition of the power pack. The maker will replace it if there’s a malfunction or it degrades below a certain level, which is usually about 60-75% of the original capacity. Most will also include breakdown recovery insurance too as part of the package, saving you about £100 per year.

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The biggest user of battery leases is Renault and it’s still the only way of buying a Twizy microcar. It was originally used on the Zoe hatchback and Kangoo electric van too, until Renault started offering the choice of battery lease or outright purchase. Now the lease has been phased out on new Zoes to avoid confusing everyone. Nissan also used it on its Leaf for a while and called the models ‘Flex’, and some early smart fortwo EVs were also sold this way.

Why are battery leases not popular now?

These schemes have now fallen out of favour as they were introduced mainly to counter the consumer worries about battery life, when the technology was new and buyers were worried that they would degrade in just a few years, like they do in phones and laptops. Since these fears have proven unfounded and electric car technology is more familiar, buyers no longer feel they need the safety net of the guarantee.

There are some pretty big disadvantages to having a battery lease too, besides having to pay out a fee every month for as long as you own the car. Unlike road tax or insurance, you can’t stop the payments when you aren’t using the car and they don’t go down over time. It means that buyers are very wary of talking on an eternal monthly payment and, as the seller, it is up to you to ensure the liability for the finance is passed over when you move the car along to new owner.

As a result of this, some dealers are very nervous about taking on the paperwork and responsibility and tend to either refuse to take a battery lease car or will value it much lower. Specialists and the official dealers should know the score, but the lack of general understanding keeps prices lower.

How do I know if the battery is leased?

In general, the seller will be very keen to tell you as they will end up paying for the lease if you don’t agree to take on the paperwork or buy the finance company out. But there could be some sneakiness going on, so if you are buying privately or from a less established dealer we would always advise that you do a proper data check (such as a HPI query) on any used car to make sure it has not been written off and isn’t subject to finance, but it’s especially important with a car which may have a battery lease.

Without the lease payments the battery will still belong to the finance company and you might be liable for any instalments which have been missed. Instead of sending in the bailiffs, the bank might even be able to simply disable the battery remotely through the car’s telematics system until you pay up.

Can I get out of the agreement?

There is good news if you find yourself with a lease you don’t want. Both Renault and Nissan will allow you to ‘buy out’ the finance on the Leaf and Zoe, and most are now ‘converted’ to ‘battery owned’ status when they change owners to help simplify the used market. There’s now an option for Twizy owners too.

When looking for a used Zoe or Leaf, check if it is a ‘battery owned’ model, as not every dealer will mention it in the advert, hoping that buyers will be attracted by the low purchase price. If you are prepared to take on the lease, make sure you are confident around the costs involved, have a good idea of how many miles you’ll be doing and the length of time you’ll be keeping the car. Also bear in mind that you’ll be subjected to a credit check. If you’re buying a Twizy you’ll have to agree to take over the lease, so make sure you are only paying from the time when you actually own the car.

How do pilots stay calm?

Finally, have a look at the website of the manufacturer involved and maybe even call and speak to the customer services so you can get an accurate cost for a lease which fits your needs. If that all sounds like a lot of hassle, you’re right. It’s the reason lease schemes are dying out. On the plus side, it could make your electric car a little more affordable if the numbers work for you.

Renault Twizy

The Twizy was only available with a battery lease for most of the time it was sold

What happens to old electric car batteries?

For National Grid's 'What happens to old electric car batteries?' story

While electric vehicles are recognised as reducing carbon emissions – especially when powered by renewable energy – we still get lots of questions about the life of electric car batteries and whether they will end up in landfill, potentially knocking electric cars’ green credentials. Here we answer those concerns.

Electric vehicles (EVs) aren’t the future any more, they’re the present.

The transition to EVs has been accelerated on both sides of the Atlantic, with a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030 1 , and a goal set for half of all new vehicle sales in the US to be electric by 2030 2 .

‘Range anxiety’ has been recognised as a concern for potential EV drivers, with £950m ($1.16bn) of UK government funding now earmarked for rapid charging at service stations and £1.3bn ($1.59bn) for EV charging infrastructure, including homes and streets.

Similarly, the US has declared that there will be 500,000 EV charging stations nationwide by 2030. The White House has introduced a plan to distribute $5 billion (£4,091,000,000) to states across the nation 3 , which should help to eliminate range anxiety amongst drivers.

That leaves one remaining issue for would-be electric car buyers – what happens to electric car batteries at the end of their working life?

How do electric car batteries work?

While internal combustion engines get their energy from burning petrol or diesel, an electric vehicle is powered directly from a big pack of batteries. These EV batteries are worlds apart from the heavy lead-acid batteries in conventional combustion engine cars.

EV batteries are much closer to the ones in your mobile phone or laptop, yet more reliable and with a vastly increased life span. EV batteries use a pack consisting of 2,000 plus, individual lithium-ion cells working together. There’s no lithium metal in the batteries, only ions – atoms or molecules with an electric charge.

When the car’s recharging, electricity is used to make chemical changes inside its batteries. When it’s being driven, the batteries are used to discharge power.

Our Head of Future Markets, Graeme Cooper, explains: “The EV’s battery management system – or BMS – allows the cells to be gently topped up. The BMS preserves battery efficiency and life, which is how batteries live so much longer than your phone or laptop’s (which don’t have a BMS).”

How long do electric car batteries last?

The hundreds of gently topped-up cells inside an EV battery mean that each battery pack is expected to retain its charging-discharging capacity from 100,000 to 200,000 miles. Manufacturers are so confident of the battery’s road use that most electric cars come with an extended warranty of eight years, or 100,000 miles.

The battery will outlive the car.

“The battery will outlive the car,” says Graeme Cooper confidently. “Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.”

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It’s also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries’ lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

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

Once an EV battery starts to lose its capacity to power a vehicle over distance, it still has useable life in it. When an electric car battery’s performance drops to 70% or less, its ‘second life’ revs into action.

An EV battery has a second life after 100,000 to 200,000+ miles on the road…

“An EV battery has a second life after 100,000 to 200,000+ miles on the road,” explains Graeme. “There’s still residual life in the viable battery, so it can be hung in your garage or in the cupboard under the stairs as a static battery energy storage system, if you have a renewable energy source like solar panels .”

This EV battery second stage usefulness, when paired with renewable energy, means people can save on bills and increase their use of clean energy .

A green cycle for EV batteries?

Aside from energy storage in your home or workplace, on a larger scale former EV batteries can be used to power manufacturing plants and streets. In a virtuous energy cycle, eventually the factories that produce the batteries could be powered using the repurposed batteries.

Electric vehicle manufacturers are making big investments to give car batteries a new lease of life in large-scale battery storage systems .

Toyota will be installing ex-EV batteries outside convenience stores in Japan . The batteries will be used to store power generated from solar panels. The energy stored will then be used to support the power of drink fridges, food warmers and fresh food counters inside stores.

Renault has also announced that the EV batteries from the Renault Zoe EV will be repurposed to generate power to the Powervault – a home energy battery storage system. And Nissan has launched XStorage, using Nissan Leaf car batteries as storage systems for homes and businesses.

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

Yes, when EV batteries reach the end of their working life, they will be recycled. In the US, w hen the typical 8- to 10-year battery warranty has expired, most EV providers can reuse the batteries for a second or third time. As electric cars take pole position on our roads – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution compared to cars powered by fossil fuels – the race is on to find ever better recycling methods to unlock their full green potential.

It makes neither economic nor environmental sense for EV batteries to be dumped in landfill – it just won’t happen.

“The active battery recycling market is in its infancy, as car batteries are so reliable and long-lived,” explains Graeme. “But we can expect to see huge growth in recycling technologies. It makes neither economic nor environmental sense for EV batteries to be dumped in landfill – it just won’t happen.”

The current methods of smelting and leaching will be finessed in coming years, as will the battery designs to optimise the separation and recycling process of end-of-life batteries. In the UK, the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has launched a £7million ($8.5m) competition for on-vehicle solutions that address challenges associated with the transition to zero emission vehicles, including improving sustainability.

The former Chief Technical Officer of Tesla, J. B. Straubel, has launched Redwood Materials , one of a crowd of new start-ups racing to solve a problem that doesn’t exist yet; how to recycle electric car batteries that will be past their prime.

Straubel told Wired : “With all these batteries in circulation, it just seems super obvious that eventually we’re going to build a remanufacturing ecosystem.”


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