These days everything we do revolves around battery-powered devices, and lately, that includes vehicles. When it comes to electric cars and trucks (EVs), if you’re wondering, “How long should an EV battery last?” it’s longer than you probably think.
Most electric vehicles have large Lithium-Ion battery packs that give power to the motors instead of gasoline, and these battery cells are built to last. While several factors affect how long EV batteries last, most manufacturers guarantee them for at least eight years.
Electric vehicles have considerably less maintenance than traditional gas vehicles, but all batteries degrade over time. Of course, we’re all familiar with charging cycles on a smartphone and how a three-year-old iPhone probably doesn’t hold a charge as long as it did the day you bought it.
Without getting too technical, this is known as battery degradation or the rate at which a battery degrades during its lifecycle. Many of us have experienced some type of battery degradation.
Every time you charge a smartphone to 100% and then let it discharge to zero counts as a charge cycle on the Lithium-ion battery. Over time, these charging cycles degrade the battery, and eventually, even if it says 100% on the screen, it’s closer to 80%. As a result, the total capacity will decrease throughout the product’s life.
The same thing happens to the Lithium-ion battery cells inside an EV. Think of it like your gas tank getting smaller over time. As some of the cells degrade and die, the usable size of the battery shrinks. However, don’t let this worry you, as EV batteries are built to extremely high standards, degrade slowly, and will likely last longer than you own the vehicle.
Circling back to the original question, how long can you expect your EV battery to last? This depends on your driving habits, charging habits or speeds, the temperature, where you store or charge it, and more.
Thankfully, experts suggest that EV batteries will typically last anywhere from 10-20 years. That’s significantly longer than most people own a vehicle and longer than your average gas-powered ICE (internal combustion) engine.
More importantly, auto manufacturers guarantee it, too. Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, the battery likely comes with an eight-year warranty. Your EV’s battery will still degrade over time, and that warranty promises that your EV battery should still hold at least 70% capacity after eight years. So yes, your “electric tank” got a little smaller, but it’s still highly capable.
For example, Tesla offers a warranty on the battery and drive unit good for at least eight years or 100,000 miles, and some models extend to 150,000 miles. After that period, Tesla promises that its batteries are still good for at least 70% capacity.
Several federal regulations require manufacturers to warranty batteries for eight years or 100,000 miles, so you can expect that type of warranty from Ford, Chevy, and many others. Most apply the same “70% capacity after eight years” rating. And as we said above, an EV battery will last that long without all the typical maintenance, oil changes, and upkeep of traditional engines.
Now that you know your EV battery can likely last at least 8-10 years, or potentially even 20, you can rest easy buying a new electric vehicle. That said, there are still some general rules or maintenance tips that can help extend the life of your EV battery. These are all things you’ve likely heard regarding your smartphone or laptop battery, so it’s nothing too difficult to manage.
If you’ve ever left a smartphone in a hot or cold car overnight, you’ve probably noticed how much the temperature can impact the battery. The temperature can affect the cells, charging speed, and more. So avoid leaving your car in extreme temperatures on both sides of the spectrum.
- Minimize exposure to extremely high (or low) temps while driving, storage, or charging.
- Minimize the time spent at a 100% charged state
- Never let the battery go to zero
- Avoid using fast-charging stations
Additionally, don’t leave your car plugged in overnight, where it’s constantly sitting at 100%. We’ve heard the same tip on mobile devices for years. More importantly, don’t let your EV battery go to zero and be completely dead. Each time a battery goes to zero, some lithium-ion cells die, and the effective charge capacity may decrease. Meaning you’ll get to that 70% margin on the warranty faster, reducing your overall driving range and charging.
Fast-charging uses far more power than a level 1 or level 2 charger, but all that power comes with added heat, and heat is bad. And while vehicles have thermal management systems built in, it’s still a good idea to use fast-charging stations as little as possible.
It’s best to recharge your EV in the evening or when you can, rather than let the battery drain to low levels, then throw it on the charger overnight. Top-offs are better for battery longevity than complete 0-100% recharging cycles.
The next logical question is whether or not you can replace the battery in an EV. And the short answer is yes, although you shouldn’t have to for at least a decade. In fact, Chevy is currently busy replacing battery cells in thousands of Bolt EV models due to a recall, and the process isn’t all that technical for auto mechanics.
Things are a little different when buying a used Tesla, driving for several years, then realizing you’d benefit from replacing the battery inside. And while that’s completely doable, and some shops specialize in the job, it’s pretty expensive.
The battery is a replaceable component on electric vehicles, just like anything else. Unfortunately, the battery packs themselves are expensive and can cost upwards of $10,000 or more, not to mention paying a shop to do the swap.
So while it’s doable, they’re super expensive, dangerous to work on, and should be left to the professionals.
Electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts and require less maintenance than gas cars, and the battery that powers everything can easily last upwards of 10-20 years. Those are just a few reasons EVs are rapidly growing in popularity.
Plus, the lifespan and longevity of EV batteries will undoubtedly improve as the technology advances. For example, solid-state battery packs could offer increased performance, faster charging, and slower degradation. The solid electrode inside isn’t flammable like the liquid gel electrolytes found in typical battery cells, making them safer.
Electric vehicles are here to stay, and the technology will only improve moving forward.