What is the lifespan of electric car batteries?

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Electric vehicle (EV) batteries have a limited lifespan, gradually losing their ability to hold a charge over time. The rate at which this happens depends on various factors such as driving behaviour, temperature, and charging habits.

Some EV manufacturers offer warranties for the battery, which typically guarantee a minimum of 8 years or 160,000 km of use with at least 70% of the original capacity remaining. However, some EV batteries may last up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance.

EV batteries that fall below 60-70% capacity may need to be replaced, which can be costly. Therefore, it is important to consider the age and remaining capacity of the battery when purchasing a used EV.

How long will electric car batteries last?

Everyone discusses the future of the automobile, specifically electric cars, and certain countries have already established dates within the next decade to ban conventional combustion engine vehicles. Electric car engines can run many hundred thousand km, but they have a specific weakness: The battery. So what’s wrong with the battery, I hear you ask?

Electric car batteries also known as lithium ion batteries degrade over time, losing a bit of their original capacity each time they are charged. So each year of driving, the battery will perform a little less, meaning the distance we can cover with a full charge will reduce.

By the time an electric car battery reaches only 60% to 70% capacity of the initial capacity, meaning initially, a full battery would let you drive 500 km. Still, now you can only undertake 300km between full charges; it is time to change the electric car battery.

New electric cars can have their batteries changed, but it’s expensive because the batteries are a significant component of the car.

Then you also have to ask, is it worth replacing the battery and paying a significant amount to keep a decade-old vehicle on the road for another decade? This will be a tricky question in the future.

How many years it will take to reach this critical 60% to 70% threshold on your electric car battery depends on many factors, such as driving behaviour and environmental conditions.

Extreme temperatures can degrade electric cars

Electric car batteries will begin to degrade if the temperature falls below zero degrees Celsius or above 26 degrees Celsius, so anything between that range is preferable.

Exposing the vehicle to temperature extremes like a scorching hot climate can have a detrimental long-term effect on the battery life.

For example, suppose you live in regional South Australia, where temperatures on the ground can sometimes get up to 49 degrees Celsius in peak summer, and you park your electric car outside every summer day. In that case, your electric car battery potentially will not last as long as if you park the electric car daily in a cool underground car park in the middle of Hobart.

Continuous full discharge can degrade batteries

If you discharge the battery to the maximum every time, this will affect the battery life span. Batteries prefer life cycles that do not discharge the battery fully every time.

As electric car batteries do not like to be drained every time to the last drop of energy, the life of your electric car battery should start charging when let’s say, 50 % of the electric vehicle battery capacity is still available.

Overall it’s a good idea to aim to have your EV charged somewhere between 20% and 80% under normal circumstances and try not to go below 20% of battery capacity.

DC rapid chargers can affect battery life

While you prefer a DC rapid charger when you are in a rush, it isn’t suitable for the long battery life. Do so regularly, as a quick charge that gives you approximately 80% capacity in around 20 to 30 minutes creates a lot of heat, which can cause battery degradation.

With the current technology, many electric car manufacturers like Kia, Tesla, Lexus, Hyundai, or Mercedes warrant 160,000 km or around eight years as the minimum life of an electric car battery.

These warranties claim that the battery will still contain 70% of its original capacity after eight years. So, you must recharge a vehicle with an initial 500km driving range every 350km.

Suppose one looks after the battery by not fully discharging the unit and limiting temperature extremes. In that case, common wisdom sees electric car batteries last between 10 to 15 years, with some claims even 20 20-year lifespan would be possible. The reality in future years will teach us if these claims are realistic.

electric car being chargedElectric car batteries lose 30% of their storage over 8 years

Lower maintenance costs for electric cars

Most people widely agree that electric cars have lower maintenance costs compared to traditional cars with combustion engines. Electric cars do not need oil filters or regular engine maintenance because their engines seal completely.

Given the high replacement cost of an electric car battery and given that we know we will have to replace it after, let’s say, a decade, it is advisable to put aside every year some of the fuel and maintenance savings, so when the new battery is required, one has put aside enough savings to afford the battery replacement cost easily.

How do you know when your electric car battery is on the way out?

Like an older phone or iPad does not hold the charge as it used to, an electric car battery may struggle to give you a safe long-distance drive, as it will hold less charge. So you will then have to recharge the electric car more frequently, and those charges won’t last for as long as they used to.

While a lot of people might choose to buy themselves a new car after holding onto one for a decade or so, your car dealer should have the necessary qualifications to replace electric car batteries. Replacement prices vary depending on the size of the batteries, the car brand, and ease of battery access. Whichever brand it is, it will not be cheap and could reach a 5-figure sum for luxury vehicles.

Electric car battery recycling is vital

We need to create a new industry for recycling batteries. Car makers should offer incentives for people to return their old batteries when they get new ones. Hopefully, the Federal Government will develop a framework to ensure electric car battery recycling becomes mandatory.

Battery technology is expected to develop over the next decade so that a 10, 15-year or even 20-year battery warranty will be possible, and EV batteries will become more sustainable overall and take longer to replace.

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