Published on 05th September 2022
The battery is an EV’s most critical and expensive component. When an EV battery costs as much as one-fourth of the EV’s total cost, it is natural to be concerned about maximizing EV battery life. Moreover, the degree of degradation impacts the EV’s residual value and the vehicle’s maximum usable range.
EV battery degradation is primarily due to three factors—cycles, operating temperatures, and time. Charging your EV regularly, maintaining a moderate driving style, and minimizing the top three risk factors (deep discharging, fast charging, and extreme temperature exposure) are some essential tips to follow when it comes to extending your EV battery life.
Although EVs have fewer moving parts and a lesser need for repairs or replacements than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, they tend to lose the ability to charge fully over time. Therefore, it is vital to understand how EV batteries work and how to make your EV last longer.
Keep reading to learn more about EV battery capacity, the causes of EV battery degradation, and the top 10 tips to maximize EV battery life.
An electric car’s battery capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Lithium-ion batteries for electric cars are available in various sizes, with different kWh capacities.
The battery pack of most all-electric vehicles is in the 30kWh–100kWh range, with more kWh equating to a longer range. A higher kWh rating indicates better fuel economy or the real-world range of an EV.
How long does an EV battery last? It is generally assumed that electric car batteries last a maximum of 65,000 miles. An EV’s battery pack will not fail all at once even though the battery pack may eventually lose its ability to hold a full charge.
Typically, electric car batteries come with a battery pack warranty of a minimum of 8 years or 100,000 miles. EV makers differ in terms of warranties. For example, Kia’s battery pack warranty lasts 10 years or for 100,000 miles.
Higher-end Tesla models have a 150,000-mile battery warranty. For example, the Tesla Model S comes with a warranty of 8 years or 150,000 miles with 70% battery capacity retention.
Advancements in electric car battery technology are leading to more efficient electric motors, decreased battery costs, increased battery capacities, and new battery chemistries. Moreover, newer EVs come with built-in automatic safeguards to prevent overcharging, over-discharging, or overheating.
The world’s well-known EV maker, Tesla, plans to introduce a “million-mile battery” that could possibly outlast the car itself!
EV battery life cycle analysis shows that an EV’s battery capacity or range is bound to decrease over time—depending on use, the battery degradation may vary from 10–40% over the warranty period.
As the battery capacity falls below 80%, the range and performance of an EV battery start diminishing over time.
Generally, a battery is covered under warranty for the EV owner. In the event of battery failure or an unexpected repair, an EV owner can utilize the battery warranty provided by the manufacturer.
For an EV battery under warranty, repair or replacement should be done only at a manufacturer-approved repair shop. For batteries outside of the warranty conditions, you should choose an authorized dealer or a service center to repair or replace the battery.
Read your specific warranty carefully, especially for used EVs requiring supplemental protection from the manufacturer or third parties.
An EV battery generates energy via a chemical reaction. Generally, lithium-ion batteries power EVs. On average, EV batteries experience an annual loss of around 2.3% of the battery’s starting range.
Many modern electric cars include battery packs that consist of lithium-ion cells that function well at a moderate temperature without being kept at a full state of charge (SOC) or a very low state of charge.
As electric cars thrive in moderate temperatures, avoiding intensely hot or cold conditions is necessary to prevent battery wear and promote battery longevity, particularly when your EV is parked and unplugged.
EVs in hotter climates tend to experience quicker battery depletion because heat has an adverse effect on lithium-ion batteries. This is why most EVs are equipped with liquid-cooled battery thermal management systems to assist in battery life retention and maintain ideal temperature and higher performance of the batteries.
In addition, using Level 3 fast-charging stations decrease battery lifespan—a research study showed that “DC fast charging resulted in a 10% degradation over eight years.”
Fast-charging DC stations can charge an EV up to 80% in 30 minutes—charging really fast but generating heat that could decrease the battery’s longevity and performance in the future.
The EV battery pack design is meant for the inclusion of thousands of Li-ion cells, which undergo cycles of “charge” when the EV is plugged in and “discharge” when driving. The electric car battery life expectancy is measured in charge cycles of fully charging and discharging the EV batteries.
While this cycle decreases the amount of charge an EV battery can hold, it increases the amount of time required to recharge the battery because the repeated cycle of charging and discharging results in EV battery degradation over time.
EV chargers are commonly known as “slow,” “fast,” or “rapid” chargers available at homes, workplaces, public charging stations, and other designated charging points to restore an EV’s range.
The average life of an electric car battery is estimated to be 10 years under normal driving conditions. While calendar aging is one of the main reasons affecting battery longevity, other factors such as extreme heat, an extreme state of charge, and fast charging can negatively impact the lifespan of an EV battery.
Here are your top 10 tips to help you maximize your EV battery’s potential:
Avoid running a battery below a 10% state of charge and charging a battery above 80% or 90% on a regular basis.
Lithium-ion partial cycles are better for EV battery life because deep discharging damages the battery. Never let the battery discharge completely, as it may reduce your EV’s charge capacity and overall driving range.
Minimize fast charging to extend your EV battery life. Level 2 charging is sufficient for ordinary charging needs. Charge your EV fully only for long-distance trips and try to limit your SOC between 20-80%, especially for longer periods. Do not rush while charging.
According to a AAA (American Automobile Association) study, the average electric car’s operating range drops by 41% when the ambient temperature dips to or below 20°F and by 17% when the temperature hits 95°F.
Furthermore, excessive cold or heat makes your EV work harder to maintain a comfortable cabin temperature—leaving less energy available for driving.
Choose a shaded spot to park your EV on a hot day and keep the battery cooler. Likewise, park in a garage in cold weather, as intense heat or cold severely impacts battery range and longevity.
Cooling your car before charging also helps in making your EV battery last longer. If you live in a hot climate, consider more active cooling to increase battery longevity.
Frequent usage of DC fast chargers can degrade EV batteries faster and affect the battery’s long-term performance—resulting in the battery lasting for a shorter time between charges. So, it is better to limit fast or rapid charging to emergencies and road trips.
Most batteries are built for standard Level 2 (or 220V) charging. Although fast charging is considered convenient, it pushes a lot of current into the EV battery life and causes the battery to degrade faster.
Studies indicate that 8 years of standard charging provides 10% more battery life compared to 8 years of fast charging.
Preset charging (to a specific state of charge) helps in extending EV battery life. An electric car’s management system is designed to prevent the vehicle from either fully charging or fully discharging and prolong the battery’s usable efficiency and life.
The sweet spot for charging lithium-ion batteries lies somewhere between 20% and 80%—ideal for normal commuting periods.
Abrupt acceleration or braking drains the battery quickly and results in performance problems. Apart from challenging driving conditions, aggressive driving or rapid acceleration will only lead to draining the battery faster.
So, driving at a moderate pace under reasonable driving conditions prevents quicker discharging of the battery.
Have any unexpected trip? As a best practice, recharge your EV in the evening or when necessary instead of letting the battery drain to low levels. You can improve your EV battery longevity with top-offs than complete 0–100% recharging cycles.
In addition, smart charging stations help you control the battery state of charge and fill the battery up to a certain limit.
Regular usage of your EV within the limits of EV performance is not a cause of battery degradation, but becoming 100% fully charged or 100% discharged causes an EV to lose efficiency and usable life.
Deep discharging as a result of non-use is shown to have a detrimental effect on battery life. Unlike a conventional vehicle, an EV that remains unused for a prolonged period is susceptible to severe battery life issues like loss of range.
A full battery charge provides maximum operating time. However, an extreme state of charge is detrimental to the overall lifespan of your EV battery.
Some EVs, like the Tesla Roadster, provide a “storage” setting to maintain a lower level of charge and optimize the life of individual battery cells.
Most of the EVs do not need immediate battery replacement because electric cars with original batteries can run 200,000 miles or more. Usually, replacing a few individual weak cells restores the battery to normal condition instead of replacing the entire battery.
EV manufacturers use various battery chemistries and cooling technologies. Interestingly, some cars may have a “sleep” mode for an extended period of inactivity.
Just like conventional vehicles, the likelihood of EVs catching fire is possible from the vehicles’ lithium batteries. However, electric car makers follow stringent safety practices and invest in smart management systems to prevent overheating, ensure overall safety, and provide excellent ride quality.
EV batteries represent clean and sustainable energy without any detrimental environmental impact. Is there a battery “second life”? Yes.
Currently, it is possible to recycle only about half of the EV battery pack components. Efforts are on to recycle more than 90% of battery components to make new batteries.
Repurposing end-of-life EV batteries not only creates a closed-loop system for recycling but also stores power (when used alongside renewable energy like solar or wind) for residential and commercial applications. Such applications include powering food warmers and sports arenas and serving as home electricity storage.
The global electric mobility market is on an upward trend, with EVs expected to account for more than 60% of global passenger vehicle sales by 2040. Electric cars will play a bigger role in the coming years, with predictions of EVs making up 50% of all new vehicles sold in countries like the UK.
According to Blackridge Research & Consulting’s global electric vehicle battery market report, one of the crucial reasons for the EV boost is attributable to consumers buying electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) due to “the growing trend toward adopting green cars.”
While gasoline-powered cars typically use rechargeable lead-acid batteries, electric cars use battery packs comprising rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Due to their higher energy density than nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are mostly used in electric vehicles.
Minimizing your EV exposure to extreme temperatures, choosing standard charging over fast charging, controlling the optimal state of charge, and maintaining a consistent speed are the primary ways of extending your EV battery life.
Among other factors, an EV’s longevity is enhanced by planned care and maintenance. Follow the tips in this post to get the most out of your EV and make it last longer for an enjoyable experience!