One of the biggest concerns among electric and hybrid vehicle buyers – particularly those of used motors – is whether battery replacement is possible if the cells start to lose their ability to hold charge as they get older. We think it’s unlikely you’ll need to and explain why here.
What the car makers say
Car manufacturers say the chances of the batteries in an electrified vehicle, whether full electric or hybrid, wearing out before the rest of the car is very slim indeed.
As a result car makers give EV batteries a warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
So how long do batteries last?
America’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory says EV batteries last between 12 and 15 years.
As with the rest of the car, manufacturers test the batteries to destruction and artificially age them. Most claim that when the car gets to 14 years old, the average age cars live to, they will still hold at least 70% of their charge.
Batteries don’t just stop working
Batteries are relatively simple devices with no moving parts to go wrong. Unless something catastrophic happens, they won’t just pack up. But they will gradually lose their ability to hold a full charge.
The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs are very similar to those in mobile phones. But while there’s just one cell taking the load in a mobile phone battery, there are hundreds of these in a car. That means they don’t degrade as quickly or comprehensively as those in phones or laptop computers.
Geotab, a US-based transportation connectivity company claims the average EV loses 2.3% of its battery capacity every year it’s in service. An EV with a 300-mile range would have 293 miles after one year, 266 miles after five and 203 miles after 14 years.
In theory. In practice, many long-term EV drivers experience greater battery degradation over the first few years than further down the line.
Can you change batteries?
Of course you can change anything in a car. However, the battery back whether on an EV or hybrid car are designed to last the length of the car’s life. As a result, changing them isn’t the work of a moment.
On top of the time it’ll take, the cells themselves are arguably the single most expensive component in an EV.
If you have to change the batteries in a vehicle that is outside its manufacturer’s battery warranty, chances are it won’t be worthwhile doing so, simply from a cost perspective.
Does this mean EV owners should be concerned?
We don’t think so. Car makers have got very good at managing battery life. They’ve reduced the temperatures the batteries are subject to when they’re charging. And they’ve worked on how the batteries charge and discharge in an effort to limit the degradation as much as they can.
EV owners can take steps to preserve the life of their car’s battery. We’ve done a blog on that here.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.