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What is the lifespan of an electric car battery?

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

Most car manufacturers guarantee EV batteries for eight years/160,000km, with some estimates suggesting electric car battery life is somewhere between 10 and 20 years. EV batteries can also be replaced if required.

But how long do car batteries last?”, Australia has several car manufacturers – including Tesla, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Nissan – that guarantee EV batteries for eight years or 160,000km, whichever comes first (most guarantees state that the battery should still be holding at least 70 per cent capacity after eight years).

This tracks with the general consensus that EV batteries last for between 10 and 20 years (the battery in a standard internal-combustion engine vehicle lasts between three and five years), although it’s likely to be closer to the lower end of the spectrum, with the performance of EV batteries being expected to progressively diminish once they hit the decade mark.

This is no surprise. As anyone who has a laptop or phone (ie pretty much everyone) knows, the batteries in these items struggle to hold a charge and become less effective once they start getting on a bit in age.

The lifespan and longevity of EV batteries will only get better with time as new technological advancements are made, although there are certain things you can do to ensure your EV battery doesn’t fritz out prematurely.

For a start, batteries don’t like extreme hot or cold temperatures. EV batteries will begin to degrade if the temperature is below zero degrees Celsius or above 27 degrees Celsius, so anything between that range is preferable (unlike some EVs, Tesla cars have a thermal-management system for battery packs, meaning they’ll last longer, charge quicker and have higher performance).

Using a DC rapid charger is good if you’re in a hurry, but it isn’t such a great idea so do so regularly, as a rapid charge that gives you approximately 80 per cent capacity in around 20 to 30 minutes creates a lot of heat, which can cause battery degradation.

Draining an EV battery empty or charging to 100 per cent regularly also puts strain on the battery and causes degradation, so it’s a good idea to aim to have your EV charged somewhere between 20 per cent and 80 per cent under normal circumstances (a full charge on a long trip, of course, is completely understandable, and driving around on 20 per cent really is for gamblers and risk takers).

The above also applies if you plan on parking the EV for a long period of time: aim for a charge between 20 to 80 per cent, and never leave it fully charged or fully drained.

The only exception to this rule is EVs that use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, like the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, as the chemistry used in LFPs isn’t affected by states of high or low charge.

Although simple ageing will cause an EV battery’s ability to hold a charge to degrade over time, it’s unlikely that the battery pack will stop working altogether – like an old mobile phone or laptop, they may just struggle to hold a charge for any length of time.

What you’ll notice, then, is that you need to recharge more often, and those charges won’t last for as long as you’re used to.

While a lot of people might choose to buy themselves a new car after holding onto one for a decade or so, there are options if you’ve become attached to your EV.

It might be that your EV never needs its battery replaced, but if it does, it won’t happen until at least a decade into the car’s life, at the earliest. Dealers can replace EV batteries, and prices vary depending on the size of said batteries.

Battery recycling is also slowly becoming a thing, with Toyota, for example, offering a credit toward the price of a new battery for any used EV batteries that are returned for recycling. BMW also has plans to re-purpose old EV batteries for mass power storage or recycling.

Again, though, this may never be necessary, with batteries possibly lasting for a couple of decades, and battery technology developing in the direction where EV batteries will last even longer – and, crucially, take you even further.

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