How Long Does An Electric Car Battery Really Last?

how many hours does your electric car battery last?

An electric car won’t run without a battery, commonly known as EVB which stands for Electric Vehicle Battery is also called traction battery. It is a rechargeable battery that is designed to power the drive or propulsion of electric vehicles such as golf carts, electric cars, E-bikes, vans, and trucks. And it makes up a sizable cost of electric vehicles - from 25% to 50% of the vehicle’s cost.

Considering how costly it is, potential buyers often wonder how long does an electric car battery last, since buying a replacement could set them back by several thousand dollars again. Before going to the cost, let’s first see why it is so expensive.

Why Are Electric Car Batteries So Expensive?

Type Of Battery

Electric car batteries are deep-cycle batteries instead of the traditional Starting, Lighting, and Ignition batteries or SLI batteries. This is because these batteries are meant to deliver power over a continuous period. These batteries are devised to deliver high ampere-hour capacity and are distinguished for their rather high energy density, “energy-weight" ratio, and “power-weight” ratio… lighter and smaller batteries lessen the load of the car and enhances its efficiency.

These rechargeable or secondary batteries used as electric car batteries are either lead-acid - wet, deep-cycle or valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA), nickel cadmium (NiCd), lithium-ion, Li-ion polymer, nickel-metal hydride,  and the less common molten-salt and zinc-air battery.

Of course, batteries are not new, but the type of battery that can hold enough energy to propel a car on its own is new. Its novelty coupled with low demand, unlike ordinary car batteries, did not warrant mass production, thus the high cost.  

Future Cost Of Electric Batteries

Advances in battery technology have caused the cost of batteries to drop, including batteries for electric vehicles. Price of batteries for electric vehicles has cheapened by over 35% from 2008 to 2014.

For example, the price of lithium-ion batteries has been reduced considerably because of the increased volume of production and manufacturers have finally found a way to produce them more cheaply. 

In 2010, when the first commercial EVs were introduced in the market, their battery pack was estimated to cost $1,000 per kWh (kilowatt-hour). At present, the battery pack of Tesla’s Model 3 cost only $190 per kWh. The battery pack of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt of General Motors is approximated at $205 per kWh. This shows that price per kWh of electric car batteries was reduced by over 70% in only six years.

When the cost of a battery pack drops to between $125 to $150 per kWh, it is predicted that the cost of EVs will be the same or even less than a fuel powered car of the same category. The industry predicts that the similarity in price can be realized as early as 2020. Other studies also project the price of a lithium-ion battery pack to fall to only $73 per kWh by 2030.  

All this is due to changes in manufacturing processes and cell chemistry and the competitive pricing of large manufacturers forcing their way into a bankable market. By 2020 it is predicted that about 1.7 million electric vehicles will be on the road. Bloomberg however, is more optimistic, their projection is more like 7.4 million, with 2 million sold on that year. Another optimistic projection by Bloomberg is that 35% of the total sales of light vehicles by 2040 will be made up of electric cars. Recent developments could prove Bloomberg right! The cost of EV batteries has been decreasing rapidly, consequently bringing down the cost of electric vehicles. 

​Components And Materials Of Batteries For Electric Vehicles 

Nearly all batteries of electric vehicles are lithium-based and are dependent on a blend of nickel, cobalt, graphite, manganese and other essential minerals and chemical elements. These are not exactly rare materials, but some are more difficult to source.

​There are four basic components of a lithium-based battery; electrolyte and the positive (cathode) and negative (anode) electrodes and a separator. In most cases, the positive electrode is made out of a lithium metal oxide powder, the negative electrode from graphite or carbon powder, the electrolyte consists of a lithium salt in an organic solvent, and the separator is made of a microporous membrane.

The Lifespan Of A Battery For Electric Vehicles

It is necessary for batteries of electric vehicles to have dependable durability for deep cycles to have a longer lifespan. Manufacturers aimed to develop lithium-ion batteries with a five-year or 100,000 kilometers driving distance guarantee. Presently, however, most manufacturers have warranties of 8-year/100,000 miles. Nissan is offering increased coverage on battery capacity loss for 60,000 miles or five years.

At the same time, because of the California emissions warranty coverage period requiring a minimum of 10-year coverage for batteries of vehicles with partial zero emission, manufacturers have also increased their coverage in states adopting such a policy. 

The capacity of a lithium-ion battery is rapidly depleted as the number of deep cycles increases. Battery life is measured by cycles, and the benchmark used as an industry standard cycles to 80% capacity. 

Factors That Affect The Longevity Of An Electric Auto Battery

what causes to shorten the battery life.

1.High Temperature

​Extreme temperature lessens the ability of the battery to accept the charge, so the battery’s temperature needs to be brought to a moderate level before it is charged. But heat is worst for batteries. Although lithium-ion batteries operate well under high temperatures, extended exposure to heat lessens its life expectancy. Charging and discharging at high temperature is at a risk of gas generation that could cause a pouch cell to swell or a cylindrical cell to vent. A large number of chargers disallows charging at above 50°C (122°F)

2. High Voltage Or Overcharging

Electric car batteries that are lithium-ion based do not need to be fully charged. In fact, it is preferred that it is not fully charged since a high voltage can stress the battery and shorten the battery’s life. It can also cause a fire, overheating and total battery destruction. 

3. Deep Discharge

Deep discharging or heavily draining the battery is also not advisable. An electric car battery will have a longer life if draining it completely is regularly avoided. It is good to operate the battery between 80% to 50% charge, instead of starting at 100% and draining it to 20% and then recharging it fully.

4. High Discharges And Charge Current

​High discharge is about a substantial one-off pull on the battery, while charge current is fast charging the battery. Regularly fast charging a battery could lose you around 1% capacity per year. To illustrate, if you refrain from fast charging, after ten years or normal use, your battery may have an 80% capacity. But, if you fast charge regularly or more often, after ten years your capacity will only be 70%. While the effect on your battery’s lifespan is not considerable, fast charging still has a negative effect and must be avoided as much as possible.

If you are considering buying an electric vehicle, you have a legitimate reason to ask; how long does an electric car battery last, since the cost of a battery pack in an electric car constitutes a big slice of the cost of the vehicle.

Replacing it only after a short period of use is counterproductive. But the answer to your question depends on so many factors. Of course, as mentioned above, car manufacturers offer a warranty of from 5 to 10 years.

But, how long your electric car battery will last will ultimately depend on you - how you use it, or maybe disabuse it -  and to other factors such as operating conditions, size, chemistries, pack configuration and to others more mentioned in this article.

Conclusion

Educating yourself with information like how long does an electric car battery last or the average life expectancy of an electric car battery will allow you to weigh all your options. It will help you come up with a smart decision that will determine if your purchase will be a good decision or not.

However, if you give your electric car battery some TLC (tender loving care?) and handle it properly, your EV battery could very well outlast the manufacturer’s warranty. Maybe, until such time when electric car battery price has gone down because its technology has gone mainstream and manufacturers have gone into mass production.

There is another option open to you. There is now an emerging market for second-hand or used electric car batteries, at least in the UK. Eaton, an energy company,  is now selling second-hand/used electric batteries for domestic use.