It’s the bugbear on everyone’s mind – the inevitable moment when you have to change your EV battery. But is it really the nightmare we imagine? Let’s discuss lifespan, costs and how to avoid the inevitable.
When should you think about replacing the battery of your electric car?
Probably never. We’ll explain why.
The lifespan of an EV battery
The battery in an electric vehicle represents up to 70% of its entire value. If the battery dies, so does the vehicle. However, despite common misconceptions, the lifespan of an EV battery is longer than you may think. Used in optimum conditions, it should last between 15 and 20 years depending on the manufacturer. Furthermore, most EV batteries around today are still used in cars currently on the road.
A recent study conducted by Recurrent on 15,000 electric vehicles brought onto the market between 2011 and 2023 confirms that electric car battery replacement is a rare occurrence. Indeed, just 1.5%* of EVs have required a new battery. Most of the batteries replaced occurred on EV models predating 2015. Among the most frequent are the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf.
*This figure excludes peaks in vehicle recalls for manufacturing defects found in batteries (Chevrolet Bolt EV in 2017 and Hyundai Kona EV in 2019-2020).
What about manufacturer warranties for batteries?
Most carmakers offer a battery warranty covering 8 years or 160,000 km / 100,000 miles. This warranty is adapted by carmakers to take into account the EV model and the technology used in the battery etc.
If a manufacturing flaw in the battery comes to light during the first years of using your electric vehicle, it will no doubt be covered by the warranty. This is a rare occurrence, but it is best to be prepared for this eventuality. The warranty will work, for example, if the percentage of battery degradation exceeds a certain threshold defined by the manufacturer.
For example, for a Tesla Model 3 (excepting propulsion), the warranty covers 8 years or 192,000 km / 100,000 to 120,000 miles with a minimum battery capacity threshold of 70%. For a Kia EV6 (7 / 10 years or 150,000 km / 100,000 miles) or a Renault Zoe (8 years or 160,000 km / 100,000 miles), the threshold is lower, standing at 65% and 66% respectively.
So you should really find out the precise information from your carmaker to check out the terms and conditions of your EV battery warranty.
How does your EV battery deteriorate over time?
Each lithium ion battery is designed to withstand between 1,000 and 1,500 charging cycles (charging up to full capacity and then discharging to zero). The battery inevitably deteriorates – even during normal usage – but not at a constant rate. We usually see a significant loss in the initial battery capacity at the beginning of its operational life. This levels off afterwards.
What we need to bear in mind is that battery degradation is absolutely normal and often occurs at a faster rate during the first years. When you charge your EV in a sensible manner and in good conditions, it is rare for a battery to drop below a certain threshold. And if it does, the replacement or repairs to your EV battery is usually covered by the warranty.
How much does electric car battery replacement cost?
According to Recurrent, electric car battery replacement costs on average between $5,000 and $20,000, i.e. between £4,000 and £16,500. For a Tesla Model 3 for example, replacing the battery could cost between £13,000 and £20,000 depending on the battery pack selected.
You should nonetheless take these estimates with a pinch of salt as it is difficult to give a precise amount since costs vary considerably depending on the EV model, the size of the battery packs and the carmaker.
What is important is that prices are coming down fast. The ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) reports that the estimated cost of batteries has always been higher than the real cost. Despite the increase in lithium prices in 2021-2022, which impacted the price of battery components, the trend is levelling off and even declining. In the next few years, we can expect the cost of EV battery replacement to drop significantly.
Adopting the right habits to preserve your EV battery and avoid having to change it
So, you’ve got the message – in theory, you won’t need to worry about changing your EV battery. Having said that, battery performance over the long term can vary considerably from one driver to the next. Let’s look at how to put the odds in your favour so you can enjoy your EV to the full!
Use rapid charging sparingly
The general rule is to avoid over-stimulating the battery cells as far as possible. In the first place, this implies not using rapid DC chargers as your main option. On an everyday basis, you should go for slower charging either at home or at public AC charging stations. Only use rapid charging stations for long journeys – for example when you go on holiday.
Think about using the filters in the Chargemap app to locate the most appropriate charging stations in terms of their power ratings.
Stay within the 20-80% bracket whenever possible
Research has demonstrated that battery cells last longer if they don’t undergo extensive discharging. To protect your battery, it is therefore advisable not to go from one extreme to the other. For example, it is best to avoid using up more than 70% of your battery before charging. It is preferable to top up more frequently.
Occasionally, when you set off on long journeys, there is nothing wrong with charging your battery to full capacity and then dropping down to around 10%. But this must remain the exception rather than the rule.
Avoid extreme temperatures
- park your electric vehicle in a sheltered environment whenever possible
- charge early in the morning or at night during hot spells
- activate battery pre-conditioning in winter if your EV is equipped with this option.
If you want to find out more about how to preserve your battery, go to our article on the 6 mistakes to avoid to preserve the lifespan of your EV battery for further details.
Tell us all! Have you already had to replace the battery in your EV? Don’t hesitate to share your experience and give helpful tips in the comments!