How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last Before Replacement? Not What You Thought


So how long does an EV battery last? We took a look and this is what we found.

How long do electric car batteries last before replacement? The typical electric car (EV) battery should last you ten year or more before the battery degrades, but you have the comfort of a battery warranty from 8 to 10 year or 100,000 miles to fall back on.

Despite nearly a decade worth of data to prove skeptics wrong, there’s an almost constant anti electric car narrative among uninformed buyers and the mainstream media alike.

The skeptics state that electric cars are a bad purchase decision because their battery packs will need to be replaced at great cost to the customer after just a few years of ownership.

Most battery packs in modern electric cars last tens or even hundreds of thousands of miles before any noticeable drop in performance, and many electric cars keep their original battery pack for the life of the car.

The price of an electric car battery pack has become something of a yardstick, by which industry and analysts track the affordability of electric cars, the business case for building them, and most importantly, the rate at which electric car battery technology is evolving

What Is The Cost Of Replacing An Electric Car Battery

To date, perhaps the most visible electric car battery pack price-wise is the Nissan Leaf. Thanks to an ongoing battery replacement program offered by Nissan, existing customers/owners can purchase a brand new battery pack for their car, once the cars original battery pack has reached a level of capacity loss that severely impacts range and performance.

To swap out the original 24-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack, in a 2011 through 2014 Nissan Leaf, Nissan charges customers a flat fee of five thousand five hundred US dollars.

This includes installation and a one thousand dollar credit that’s applied when Nissan takes back the original battery pack, for reprocessing and recycling.

But now there’s a new known cost in the electric vehicle world, the brand new Chevrolet Bolt EV, whose 60-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack is substantially larger than the Nissan Leafs, not to mention makes use of next-generation lithium-ion cells.

To purchase a new battery pack for the Chevrolet Bolt EV will cost you fifteen thousand seven hundred and thirty-four dollars and twenty-nine cents.

After looking at the cost of the Nissan Leaf against the Chevrolet Bolt, it would appear that the price per kilowatt-hour of the Nissan Leafs battery pack is far better value for money than the Chevrolet Bolt, more than thirty dollars per kilowatt-hour cheaper.

See what the experts think of the Nissan Leaf

It’s super important to note that the two prices quoted are very different in the case of the Nissan, the price quoted is the price that the customer pays which includes that aforementioned one thousand US dollar discount for exchanging the old battery.

I’m guessing a significant underwriting on Nissan’s behalf to make sure that the battery pack is a reasonable price.

The price quoted by Chevrolet for the Bolt EV’s battery pack is not the actual cost that a customer would pay in an exchange situation, but rather the cost if someone wanted to buy the battery pack outright with no exchange or installation.

Given that General Motors only really wants the battery to be a dealer-installed part, and then only something that’s done in extreme situations, I’m guessing the price quoted doesn’t take into account any exchange fees or underwriting from the company.

In other words, it’s a pretty tough comparison between the quoted price of the bolt TV’s battery pack and the service cost quoted by Nissan for a replacement Leaf battery pack.

It’s worth noting here that the batch replacements for electric vehicles are particularly rare, with a majority of Nissan Leaf replacement battery packs to date taking place under warranty rather than out of customer pocket.

Indeed, most people I know with Leafs who have lessening capacity have taken the opportunity to upgrade their car and thus get a brand new battery pack rather than upgrade the battery pack in the older vehicle.

GM points out that, unlike Nissan, which has found itself replacing battery packs of early Leaf’s with advanced aging caused by extreme weather and a lack of on-board liquid cooling, not a single Chevrolet Bolt range-extended ether of either generation to date has needed a replace a battery pack.

In-depth review of the Chevrolet Bolt EV

With some of those Bolts now in their sixth year of ownership and the same battery manufacturer for the bolt, there is little to suggest a bolt customer will suffer major battery worries with their car for the foreseeable future.

But just in case, GM does ship the bolt Eevee with an 8 year 100,000 mile – 160,000-kilometer warranty on the electric vehicle drivetrain, which includes the motor, inverter and battery pack.

The take away replacing a Chevrolet Bolt EV battery pack on spec is a costly endeavor and so now seems to be representative of more than 40% of the vehicle’s overall sticker price.

But while the headline price is extremely high, and I’m sure will cause some to claim that electric cars really aren’t cost-effective, it’s doubtful that most bolt tv owners will hit anywhere near 100,000 miles during the time they own the car.

And if they do, the chances are it will be at a point in the future but the cost of making replacement batteries has dramatically fallen.

In short, if you’re considering a new Chevrolet Bolt EV or any new electric car for that matter, you really shouldn’t worry about factoring in battery replacement costs any time soon.

If it’s from a mainstream automaker and it’s a mainstream EV, you can rest easy knowing that the car company has your back in the form of warranties. If you’re buying an older used EV, well, then you might have to do some research.

Nevertheless, it helps if you think of battery replacement on a similar timeframe to an internal combustion engine replacement, it’s something that may be required if the car is significantly old or high mileage, but for the rest of the time you shouldn’t worry about it.

Do you worry about electric car battery replacement costs? Do you feel that automakers need to put more effort into making battery replacements cost-effective? Or is it just so rare that you’re not bothered?

What About Aftermarket EV Batteries?

At the moment the average new car in the US is expected to have a lifespan of around eight years or 150 thousand miles. some brands, noticeably Volvo and Subaru are known for their ability to soldier on long after competitors’ models of the same age of bit in the dust.

An electric car will be just fine and dandy long after it’s rolled off the production line, except for its battery pack. This, even in the best-case scenarios will have some signs of battery degradation and need replacing eventually.

I’ve covered battery degradation earlier so I’m not going to rehash the explanation here. But what I do think we need to discuss is the need for readily available battery packs.

At the moment, some automakers notably BMW and Nissan offer replacement battery packs for customers cars which are starting to show dramatically reduced range after many years of hard use.

In Nissan’s case, a new battery pack of identical capacity to the original one is available for a hefty premium, in some markets you can buy a certified reconditioned a battery pack for about half that price. You can’t upgrade your Nissan Leafs battery pack beyond its original capacity.

BMW is different, it offers battery replacement and upgrades for customer’s cars, meaning that you can upgrade the range of your BMW i3 to beyond, what it originally had when it left the factory.

Other automakers generally don’t offer battery upgrades, for an automaker it doesn’t make sense on an economic scale to offer an upgrade path for electric car battery packs, especially when each make and model a vehicle is slightly different to the next.

But just as an entire cottage industry has sprung out around tuning and tweaking internal combustion engine vehicles, we’ll inevitably see companies soon spring up offering replacement battery packs on out of warranty electric cars as part of a range of other services.

In the hybrid vehicle world, we’ve already started to see this happen, there are companies out there who will sell you a brand new or reconditioned battery pack for your Toyota Prius or Honda Insight hybrid.

Some will install the packs for you in a turnkey solution, while others will ship you the battery and expect you to replace it yourself, shipping back the old battery pack when you’ve finished with it for reconditioning.

Because hybrid battery packs are a lot smaller than an electric car battery pack, the prices for such services can be as little as $1,000, right up to several thousand for a fully finished installed swap.

In the electric car world the price of lithium-ion cells which, while it is still falling, is still relatively high.

This means that many people just don’t want to justify swapping out their car battery pack for between five and ten thousand dollars if they can pick up a new longer-range more capable car for about thirty thousand.

But again this mentality is currently driven by people who can afford the latter and don’t want to waste their money on the former.

As more and more electric cars become affordable for more people, spending a few thousand on a new battery pack may be the only real choice a customer has if they want to continue to drive electric, as a new plug-in car will be outside of their price range.

Right now I’m doubtful many companies could make a living offering battery swap services for older EV’s.

But as the price of battery packs fall and the number of used EVs on the road increases, we’re going to have to see aftermarket pack replacements become commonplace or we’re going to have to continue the current automotive trend of using a car for eight to ten years and then throwing a vehicle away.

In a world where resources are finite, I’m not sure that the current trend both for the internal combustion engine and alternative vehicles is sustainable.

We have reviews most of the electric cars available on the market today. Check out some of review videos here.

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