How long do electric car batteries last?

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by David Em

Electric car batteries are built to last a long time. However, they do wear over time. Learn about the lifespan and replacement costs.

Person drawing an electric car charging.

With electric cars, the range and a degrading battery are the two biggest concerns and hesitations.

Related: Electric car charging costs: Everything you need to know

When it comes to range, automakers are producing cars with 250 or more miles of range. It’s plenty for daily driving. Even for road trips, there are plenty of public charging stations. The only downside is that it can take up to half an hour.

Regarding the battery, it’s built to last, but it does degrade over time. It leads to a smaller capacity. The following explains everything you need to know about electric car batteries.

What they’re made of

Modern EVs use lithium-ion batteries for energy storage. Lithium batteries are rechargeable batteries that are similar to the batteries in a phone or laptop. The difference is that they’re much larger.

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are the standard for electric vehicles. They charge quickly, durable, and effectively store energy.

They’re also made up of individual cells instead of being one large piece. The number of cells varies based on the car.

After a lot of use, the battery will degrade and become less efficient. With time, it won’t be able to hold the same maximum capacity compared to being new.

Compared to other types of rechargeable batteries, the self-discharge rate for lithium-ion batteries is much lower. This is why automakers use them.

However, some advancements are constantly being made to the battery technology for electric cars. Automakers are creating ways to make them more efficient, increasing the capacity and lowering costs.

How long do EV batteries last?

Most electric cars have a warranty for the battery that covers 8 to 10 years or 100,000 to 120,000 miles. That’s also approximately how long electric car batteries last.

It’s also important to note that some automakers will only cover the battery if it can’t hold a charge. Getting to this point is very rare.

Tesla and GM are two automakers that are working to improve the life expectancy of the battery. They’re aiming to create a one million mile battery.

With time and improvements to battery technology, expect to see batteries last longer and become more efficient.

Replacement and cost

The battery is one of the priciest parts of an electric car. If you get to the point where you need to replace the battery and the warranty is expired, the cost can range from $5,000 to $15,000.

Going through the automaker is the best way to ensure you have the best battery for your car. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of labor.

Maximizing the life of a battery

Charging is a part of EV ownership. However, the method that you use plays a role in the life expectancy of the battery.

It’s best to charge at home without allowing the battery to drain to zero. When you charge it, don’t charge it to 100%. Most automakers stop the car from charging at 85% to prevent the battery from degrading.

Another aspect of charging to keep in mind is fast charging. Only use it if you need it. While it can quickly charge your car to almost a full charge, it attributes to the degradation of the battery pack because of how much heat is produced.

That said, keeping the car in hot or cold climates will cause the battery to degrade quicker than keeping it in a moderate climate. The impact of heat on a lithium-ion battery is why automakers create it with a cooling method, such as liquid cooling.

To maximize the life of an electric car’s battery, drive calmly, charge it at home, don’t drain the battery to zero, and charge it to 80%.

The bottom line

Electric cars use lithium-ion batteries that are getting better with time. They recharge quickly and are effective at storing energy. By properly taking care of your EV, the battery could last longer than 10 years or 120,000 miles.

Featured image courtesy of Canva.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of EV Unleashed, the leading resource for unbiased electric vehicle news, reviews, and buyer’s guides.