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How long do electric vehicle batteries last?

How long do electric vehicle batteries last?a

Among current and prospective electric vehicle owners, one of the questions most asked is, “How long does an EV battery last?”

This is a very good question to ask, given the valid worry of shelling out $10,000 (the current cost of a battery pack) to replace one or buy a new electric vehicle.

This article is intended to help you understand how your battery works and how you can extend its lifespan.

EV batteries: a definition

EV batteries provide power to the car’s motor as opposed to a traditional internal combustion engine.

A common misconception of most people is thinking that EV batteries are a single unit, or cell, such as what is found in batteries of everyday gadgets (e.g., flashlight). 

In reality, multiple EV battery cells are needed to sufficiently power an electric car. These cells are arranged into a battery pack, which in turn is typically the heaviest part of the vehicle.

How are EV batteries manufactured?

Before we dig further into the rest of the article, let’s answer the question “how are EV batteries manufactured”.

In a single cell, the anode (negative electrode) and cathode (positive electrode) are placed in a housing with a separator keeping them apart. The most commonly used in EV battery current collectors assembly is aluminum and copper.

Fluid electrolyte immerses both, after which the housing is sealed.

Next, battery modules are formed when individual cells are combined into a larger housing. A module typically contains 12 cells. 

The final step is assembling modules into battery packs, which can be found in your electric vehicle.

How long does an EV battery last?

As EV batteries come in packs, this design allows for enough cells to provide electricity to the car. 

On average, the life expectancy of EV batteries is pegged at eight years or around 100,000 miles. Taking note of the climate wherein the EV is being driven, you can expect the battery to last 10 to 20 years in moderate and extreme climates.

Battery charging cycles

The life expectancy of an EV battery depends on several factors, foremost of which is its charging cycle.

Of the types of electric vehicle batteries that exist, lithium-ion batteries are the ones found in electric cars – and in smartphones and laptops. 

In the case of smartphones, you might have noticed that frequently charging and discharging your phone fully causes the battery to deteriorate quickly. It’s the same with EV batteries.

An electric battery charging cycle refers to complete charging and discharging of the battery. Simply put, one cycle consists of a battery that is discharged to 0% and then charged to 100%. An EV battery is expected to have 1,500-2,000 charging cycles. While this may seem like a lot, if you have the habit of fully discharging and charging, you may be causing serious problems to your EV battery.

How do EV batteries degrade?

Electric vehicle batteries start to degrade when they begin losing their capacity to store and distribute power to your car. After 1,500-2,000 charging cycles, the EV battery packs gradually begin losing capacity in what is called “cycle-aided degradation.”

Quick charging using direct current fast chargers (DCFC) degrades EV batteries too. Quick charging is when high current electricity transfer generates high temperatures. Batteries can only withstand about 500 quick charges before you see serious depletion.

EV battery cells also degrade when subjected to extreme temperatures. Hot (or cold) driving conditions or storage can negatively impact an EV battery.

Last but certainly not least, even with care, you can expect EV battery degradation with time as the battery ages.

Extending EV battery life

The good news: there are ways to lengthen your EV battery’s life.

  1. Charge EV batteries properly
    While many EV models these days have protection buffers to prevent fully charging or discharging your battery, keep your state of charge (SOC) between 20% and 80%. Some models even provide options so that the normal daily charging limit always falls below 100%.
  2. Minimize the exposure of your car to high temperatures while driving or in storage.
    Heat can cause rapid depletion of your EV battery.
  3. Minimize the exposure of your car to low temperatures, especially during charging.
    Aside from the extreme cold temperature, moisture may develop, leading to battery damage during charging.
  4. Avoid rapid and deep discharging of your EV battery
    Because lithium-ion batteries work better on a partial charging cycle, deep discharging can also cause EV battery depletion and degradation.
  5. Minimize quick charging of your EV battery
  6. If you are driving a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), always switch your car to “Save” when driving along long highways or up mountains.
    Switching to “Save” lets your electric vehicle switch from the EV battery to the gasoline engine, which is more capable of handling long travels or drives up steep inclines.

Some components can also help improve a battery’s overall performance. These are called EV busbars (or an EV battery interconnect): conductors that allow the flow of current through a vehicle’s subsystems.

“Green” electric vehicle batteries

While EVs and their batteries are widely thought to be environmentally friendly, they have their upsides and downsides.

They do reduce carbon emissions because they don’t use fossil fuels and they can be recycled as storage for houses using alternative energy.

However, the batteries themselves are not made from recycled materials.

This year alone, scientists are getting ready to introduce the very first green electric vehicle battery. These are batteries made from 100% recycled active materials.

With this technology, lithium, nickel, magnesium, and cobalt from old EV batteries can be used in the production of new batteries. These sustainable EV batteries are expected to have an improved environmental footprint and lower costs.

Wrap up

Any responsible EV owner can take steps to ensure that their electric vehicle batteries last for years. Through proper care of EV batteries, you can expect greater longevity and better performance in your car.

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