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How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last?

How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last?

Batteries can comprise 30% to 50% of the total cost of an electric car. If the battery fails, and you’re not covered by the warranty, your car is likely worth no more than its scrap value.

It is for these reasons, one of the most common questions asked by prospective buyers is “How long do electric car batteries last?”. There is no standard answer that covers all EV models, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they should last at least 10 years or more.

Read on to learn more about how you can optimise the health of your electric car battery. Key topics we’ll cover include:

  • What causes battery degradation
  • Battery life expectancy and charging cycles
  • EV Battery warranties of different EV models
  • Tips for battery longevity

How Do EV Batteries Degrade?

EV batteries, like the ones used in consumer electronics, degrade a little every time they’re charged. The good news is studies have proven EV batteries degrade very little due to provisions like active thermal management systems, smart software and ‘top buffers’. For example, famous EV YouTuber, Bjørn Nyland tested the battery in his 2013 Tesla Model S and found it had only degraded 11 per cent (8.1kWh loss) or around 100km less driving range than new after seven-years and 260,000km driven.

While completely avoiding degradation is close to impossible, there are certain factors that will accelerate the degradation of your battery if not managed within the ideal parameters.

Heat

Regular exposure to extreme heat will accelerate battery degradation. This is the reason why all modern EVs have advanced thermal management systems, typically liquid-cooled, to ensure the batteries stay within the optimal temperature ranges. The first generation Nissan Leaf did not feature liquid cooling, instead, it relied on air cooling, meaning that EVs in hot climates degraded more quickly than expected and many did need to have a battery replacement.

Depth of Discharge

The higher depth of discharge the higher the degradation. Do this on a regular basis and you will accelerate the degradation of your battery. This is the reason why most EV manufacturers recommend setting the charge limit to 80% to 90% to ensure it stays within a range which minimises degradation.

The recommendations for the BYD Atto 3 and Tesla Model Rear-Wheel-Drive, which use LFP battery packs, deviate from the above recommendations and instead recommend charging to 100% regularly.

LFP batteries are still prone to degradation from a higher depth of discharge, just less so compared to other chemistries such as NMC. The recommendation to charge to 100% is to allow the BMS to properly calibrate and provide accurate range estimates.


Battery Cycles

Like all battery-operated consumer electronic devices, the more times you charge it (cycles), the more it will degrade. Ever notice your iPhone which you’ve owned for a few years doesn’t hold a charge for as long as it used to? That’s due to the degradation caused from cycling.

Battery Life Expectancy

Most EV batteries are warranted for at least 8 years, suggesting at a minimum manufacturers are confident their batteries will last this duration There is however mounting evidence from data collected that many modern EV batteries will last beyond the warranty period, likely between 10 to 20 years. One of the reasons for this improvement is driven by the use of battery chemistries such as LFP which have a cycle life of up to 2.5 times that of NMC and NCA chemistries which is still found in the majority of EV models.

Electric Car Battery Warranties

Electric car battery warranties typically cover the battery pack for a number of years or a number of kilometres, whichever comes earlier. The warranty may also cover the reduced capacity of the battery if it drops below a certain percentage e.g. 70%.

Below we’ve listed popular electric car models and their respective battery warranty terms.

Maintaining the Health of Your Electric Car Battery

The key factors affecting battery health include: how often you drive, operating temperatures, charging cycles, frequency of DC fast charging, and more. Each manufacturer may have slightly different recommendations for maintaining battery health - it is best to check the owner's manual of your specific model.

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