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Electric Vehicle Research

Electric Car Battery Lifespan: Everything You Need to Know

Electric car batteries can cost thousands of dollars… so how long will electric car batteries last?

The answer may surprise you, and it could be even more important to know when shopping for used electric vehicles.

What Causes Batteries to Degrade Over Time?

Battery health and battery range are often used to measure the effectiveness of electric car batteries and how they perform. 

Battery range is generally not guaranteed by the manufacturer and can vary drastically based on battery health, environment, driving habits, etc.

On the other hand, battery health or capacity is generally how manufacturers determine if the battery is degrading. 

Charge cycles, environment, and time all contribute to battery degradation over time.

Charge Cycles

The more you charge and discharge the battery, the more it will degrade over time. 

Fast charging can cause even more stress on the battery. This is why manufacturers recommend against unnecessary rapid charging over time. 

Also, letting the battery drop to 0% (or close) and then charging all the way up to 100% will put extra strain on the battery.

Temperature and Environment

Charging at extreme cold or hot temperatures can lead to excessive degradation on electric car batteries over time, and in some cases can void your battery warranty. 

Tesla recommends avoiding temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius or below -30 degrees Celsius for more than 24 hours at a time.  It is even more important to avoid charging the battery for long durations in extremely warm temperatures, if possible.   

Batteries Degrade Over Time

Calendar aging is a common degradation process for Li-ion batteries.  While various types of batteries age over time at different rates, all batteries will degrade over time. 

Environmental conditions like humidity or temperature impact how rapidly the battery health drops over time.  Li-ion batteries generally lose most life early on, and then continue to lose capacity gradually going forward. 

How Long does an Electric Car Battery Last?

Now, knowing that all electric car batteries degrade over time, what do we know about how long EV car batteries last? The real world data we have on EVs is still relatively new, but we know they can last a very long time. 

There are many accounts of people reporting electric vehicles with over 100,000 miles with less than 10% degradation. 

The chart below shows how a Tesla Model S/X battery degrades based on distance driven.

electric_car_battery_lifespan_by_distance_driven

On average, many EVs today can go over 120,000 miles with a 10% or less reduction in battery health.  Some drivers have reported only 2% loss in battery capacity after 50,000 miles driven.

Electric Driver estimates the average person drives 13,476 miles per year.  So, the average person may drive for almost 9 years to accumulate 120,000 miles and see that 10% degradation. 

There are some reported instances of EVs with over 200,000 miles and only seeing a slight battery degradation of around 6%.

Get More Life out of Your EV Battery

Avoid charging or storing in extreme heatExtreme heat takes its toll on lithium-ion batteries and is why many electric cars are equipped with liquid-cooled battery packs. If possible, store your vehicle in a location that does not exceed 70 degrees F, especially while charging. 

Limit fast or rapid charging Excessive use of level 3 charging can cause additional degradation due to how it heats up the battery when charging. But, the impacts on the battery from fast charging is difficult to measure, and varies by the amount of charge cycles.

Avoid depleting battery completely and charging to 100% – Never allow the battery to fully discharge. Regularly depleting most of a battery’s charge will degrade the battery more over time.  Overcharging, or charging to 100% capacity consistently also leads to faster degradation.

Battery Technology is ImprovingMost EVs have some form of protection to help you maintain your battery and avoid overstressing the battery.  For example, not allowing the battery to reach 100% charge, and warnings to prevent battery from dropping to 0%.

Electric Car Battery Warranties

To provide assurance and peace of mind for buyers, the federal government mandates that manufacturers offer a minimum of an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on batteries. Tesla offers an 8 years/150,000-mile warranty on the Model S and Model X. Hyundai offers lifetime coverage.

Many of these warranties only guarantee a battery capacity retention of 70%, so will generally only apply to the rare defects or uncharacteristic degradation.

When will I have to replace the battery in my EV?

You can expect your electric car’s battery to last well over 100,000 miles, if you properly care for your battery, until range might start to become a problem for you. 

Many factors will determine how quickly the battery degrades, but many drivers have gotten several years out of their electric vehicles without paying a cent for gas. 

The odds of your battery failing are extremely rare.  Only about 1% of EV Lithium-ion batteries experience premature failures

How Much Do Electric Car Batteries Cost?

The battery in an electric car is likely the most expensive component of the vehicle.  The cost to replace an EV battery will generally range between $7,000 and $20,000 but is highly dependent on the vehicle. 

The good news is that Li-ion batteries are becoming cheaper every year.  Batteries are priced based on $/kWh, and since 2010, we’ve seen about a 90% drop in cost, and that is expected to continue with an expected cost of $70 kWh by 2050.

electric car batteries cost
Li-ion battery costs have decreased over time

The future is bright for electric car batteries.  Battery technology and protection will only continue to improve, and range and capacity continues to increase. As the affordability of li-ion batteries continues to improve, look for battery ranges to increase as well. Tesla is working on the 1-million-mile battery and  Lucid has announced their 500-mile battery.

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Electric Vehicle Research Electric Vehicle Selection

Buying New vs Used Electric Cars – Everything You Need to Know

The choice to buy new vs used is one of the biggest considerations you’ll make when shopping for your next car.  But, what about the choice to buy used electric cars? Are there additional considerations to factor in? What about a used electric car vs used gas powered vehicle? 

We’ll address these questions, plus some pros and cons for buying a used electric car.

tesla-model-3-buying used electric car

Used Electric Car vs Used Gas Powered Vehicle

If you are shopping for a car, and haven’t decided between electric vs gas powered, there are many great reasons to consider electric for your next vehicle.  First, owning an electric vehicle can save you time with less trips to the gas station, and to the repair shop

You can also save money by not paying for gas, and with less frequent maintenance visits.  But, you’ll first want to research charging costs in your area to find out how much you can save.  Also, consider various electric car charging methods and options by checking out our in-depth guide on all electric car charging options.  If you are concerned about the environment, you may consider the benefits of electric car emissions vs gas powered vehicle emissions.

Used Electric Car vs New Electric Car

If you have already decided that you want an electric car for your next vehicle, but are now debating between new vs used, we will go over some pros and cons of each, and some additional considerations and tips for buying used electric cars.

Pros and Cons to Buying Used

Used Electric Cars – Pros

Save More by Buying Used Electric Cars

The primary reason to buy used generally comes down to cost savings. How much value you can get compared to what a new vehicle will cost.  Electric cars usually have higher depreciation rates than gas powered cars, according to a recent report from iSeeCars.  This can provide a great value opportunity for certain used electric vehicles. According to their research, electric cars lose about 52% of their value after 3 years, compared to 39.1% for gas powered sedans, 39.7% for gas powered SUVs, and 34.3% for gas powered trucks.  An exception is Tesla, which depreciate much less than all other electric vehicles.

Used Electric Vehicle Average Depreciation
Car(s)% 3-Year Depreciation
Electric Cars52%
Gas Powered Sedans39.1%
Gas Powered SUVs39.7%
Gas Powered Trucks34.3%
  
Tesla Model S36.3%
Tesla Model X33.9%
Tesla Model 310.2%
Source: iSeeCars

Electric vehicles depreciate faster over other vehicles because resale value factors in the $7,500 federal tax credit that was used to purchase the vehicle as new.  This may start to change, as the tax credits begin to phase out. 

Also, the technology is still changing rapidly and can get quickly outdated.  Consumers are also worried about lack of charging infrastructure for used electric vehicles that aren’t Teslas. 

Battery degradation is also a large factor in depreciation, as many used vehicles may see their range drop to 50-70 miles per charge.  Teslas depreciate much less, mostly due to supply and demand, more frequent software updates, trusted battery life, and their established charging network. 

If you are in the market for an electric vehicle, you may find great value from buying used.  And, if you buy a used Tesla, at least you’ll know it should hold its value well compared to other vehicles. 

Buying Used Electric Cars is Better for the Environment

While electric vehicles have been shown to produce less CO2 emissions over their lifecycle vs gasoline cars, it is no secret that the production or a new electric vehicle still requires about the same (or slightly more) carbon footprint as a new gas powered vehicle.  Buying a used electric car can help limit emissions from new car production.

Easier to Evaluate Used Car Condition

The battery in an electric car is like the engine for a conventional vehicle.  The only moving part in an electric vehicle is the rotor, while the gas-powered car has a gas tank, gas pump, gas engine, alternator, transmission, carburetor, etc. 

Teslas electric motors, for example, have 2 moving parts and single speed transmissions that have no gears.  Teslas says its drivetrain has about 17 moving parts compared with about 200 in a conventional internal combustion drivetrain. The battery health is an important factor to assess when buying a used electric car, but besides the battery, there isn’t much left to consider other than typical brakes, tires etc.

Used Electric Cars – Cons

Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation

As with most batteries, they degrade over time, and that is not any different with electric car batteries.  Remaining battery life is something to consider when buying a used electric car and can generally be checked by running a diagnostic to see the distance the vehicle will get on a full charge.  Battery degradation varies drastically based on many situations, so it is best to check the battery life on the used vehicle before purchasing.

Technology Rapidly Changing

The electric car technology is rapidly advancing year by year, with improving batteries, infotainment and other features, sensors, software updates, etc.  Electric cars are more susceptible to technology getting outdated more quickly, and many consumers want the latest and greatest.    

More Limited Choices

As most auto manufacturers begin ramping up production of new electric vehicles, consumers will have many more choices than they had five years ago.  But until some of these newer makes and models start to hit the market, used electric car choices remain limited.  Also, you’ll likely have to make a few sacrifices with customizations if you choose to buy used.

Not Eligible for Electric Vehicle Federal Tax Credits

Other than Tesla, most manufacturers are still eligible for the $7,500 EV federal tax credit, for now.  But, this only applies to new vehicles, and is not applicable to second hand vehicles.  This is a rapidly changing situation, however, as many manufacturers begin to use up their credits.  Also, Congress continues to propose bills that would alter or eliminate the federal tax credits for many consumers in the U.S.   

Depending on where you live, you may be eligible to local government rebates and other tax incentives.  For example, New Jersey offers a point-of-sale incentive of up to $5,000 on electric vehicles with over 200 miles that cost under $45,000. There are many state and local incentives, so check your local regulations to see if you can save even more money.

Ready to Buy a Used Electric Car?

Here are 9 tips to prepare you for your used electric car shopping journey.

  1. Decide where to charge it and how much range you will need.
  2. Understand that not all electric cars charge at the same rate, and that there are various charging methods.
  3. Check the title from a source like Carfax or AutoCheck for any accident or damage history.
  4. Run a battery check to get a detailed report on charging capacity, battery health and use the estimated range as a bargaining chip.
  5. Ask if the battery has been replaced and if there is any remaining battery warranty.
  6. Ask about maintenance history.
  7. Research government and utility incentives
  8. Look for all charging accessories for the vehicle.  Most electric vehicles come with the charging cables, so check to make sure those are included.
  9. Negotiate to include charger.  If the previous owner is upgrading, or won’t be needing their old charger, see if they would be willing to include that for a discount as well.

Still not sure what electric car to buy?  We can show you how to narrow down your list and how to find the right electric vehicle for your lifestyle.