One of the biggest questions consumers have about electric vehicles (EVs) concerns their battery life. What is the longevity of an EV’s battery? How much does it cost to replace the vehicle’s battery? How are the batteries disposed of and what is the impact on the environment?
How long does a battery last?
In the past ten years since electric vehicles first achieved mass-market popularity, EV manufacturers have made tremendous improvements to the lifespan of their batteries and today the goal is to make the battery’s life match the lifespan of the vehicle itself.
The battery life of EVs can vary widely and is often measured by reviewing the battery warranties provided by the manufacturers. These often range from 5 years or 60,000 miles to 8 years or 100,000 miles or more. California has adopted an emissions warranty coverage requirement of at least 10-year coverage for batteries on electric vehicles and other partial zero-emissions vehicles. Nissan currently provides an 8-year or 100,000 mile warranty on its lithium-ion batteries on its 2019 models.
One major improvement since electric vehicles first hit the market has been to change the type of battery used. For example, the Toyota Prius originally used nickel metal hydride batteries. Today, Toyota produces these EVs with lithium-ion batteries that give the battery nearly twice the longevity. Tesla is another commonly known name in the EV world. Owners of Tesla vehicles have reported battery lives of 160,000 miles to even 300,000 miles. According to Andreas Raith, BMW’s head of battery development, lithium-ion batteries in their EVs are being designed to last “15 years and beyond.”
What can owners do to improve the longevity of EV batteries?
Here are three simple ways EV owners extend the life of their batteries:
- Don’t keep batteries charged to 100%. In fact, keeping a lithium-ion battery charged to 100% or allowing it to become fully depleted will shorten its life. Maintaining a charged state of 40% to 80% is the ideal range to keep the battery healthy for the long run—unless you need that extra 20% for an extra long road trip.
- Keep an eye on the temperature. Extreme heat can hurt the battery. When the temperature outside exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit, its best to park in the shade. While traveling during hot days, avoid charging the battery above 80%. On the other hand, cold conditions will not hurt the battery. An EV will have less power when the battery is cold, but as soon as the battery warms up everything runs as normal.
- Don’t overuse DC fast charge stations. Its good to rely on DC fast charge stations during long trips or as needed a few times a week. However, EV batteries will last longer by using level 2 charging stations or by charging the battery daily at home.
How much do EV batteries cost?
The costs for EV batteries are measured by the kilowatts per hour (kWh) of the battery itself. Between 2010 and 2016, the average price of EV batteries dropped 70% to $227 per kWh. Battery manufacturers hope to get this cost below $100 kWh by 2030.
The actual retail price to replace a battery is difficult to obtain because Manufacturers tend to focus on the warranty life of the battery rather than replacement cost. According to one consumer, the cost to replace a 40 KWh Nissan Leaf battery was $5,499. Reports from Tesla owners report estimated costs of almost $30,000 to replace the battery, however, these owners also share expectations that the batteries will last over 300,000 miles—which may likely outlast the other components of the car itself!
What happens to the batteries after they die?
When batteries do hit end of life, there’s some very optimistic news about what happens to them. They can, and should be, recycled. In fact, some countries like China and the European Union have already passed legislation requiring it. Locally, OnTo Technology LLC based in Bend, Oregon can evaluate and recycle lithium-ion batteries. Recycling not only reuses precious materials, but it keeps batteries out of our landfills and limits any negative impact to the environment.
Want to learn more about this alternative energy opportunity?
Visit us at the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition today! The Coalition works to enhance the livability and sustainability of Rogue Valley residents.