What is the battery life of an electric car?

For many car owners, the EV represents an entirely new way of driving and brings with it many queries and concerns. 

Obviously range anxiety still dominates the electrification conversation, but for many there are also question marks over the life of the battery that powers these hi-tech machines.  Wherever you look, there are stories suggesting that the expensive lithium ion batteries can fail after a relatively short space of time, leaving the owner either facing a hefty bill for a replacement or contemplating cutting their losses on a car that’s otherwise worthless because it literally doesn’t work.

And it’s not hard to see where these rumours and anecdotes come from, because our extensive experience of  mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers has shown many that, even over a relatively short period of time, the batteries powering them can quickly lose efficiency, resulting in the need for more frequent charging. In extreme cases the degradation is so severe the device won’t even fire-up unless it’s permanently on charge, which is obviously no use for an EV. 

So, how bad is the problem really? Well the good news is that EV batteries are tougher than you’d think. In fact, the more electric cars that are out there and the longer they are run for, the more evidence is produced to show that the power pack will often last the lifetime of the car. Better still, there are plenty of tips and strategies you can follow to make sure your car’s batteries will survive better than most.

Electric car battery life

Okay, so the truth is that batteries degrade over time and with use, meaning they become less efficient as they age and, ultimately, in the case of EVs the range of your car will reduce. There’s also no denying that battery technology doesn’t come cheap, and should the cells ever need replacement then it’s quite likely that they’ll cost more to swap than the car is now worth – which is why we tend to replace mobile phones in their entirety rather than replace the battery pack. 

Yet it’s not all bad news, because there are ways to increase the lifespan of your car’s battery, keeping it healthier and more efficient for longer. More importantly, while performance may degrade over time, ultimately the cells should still be providing at least 70 percent of their capacity even after 200,000 miles, which is the sort of mileage that few cars ever reach, whether they’re ICE or EV. 

As an example, a number of Tesla Model S taxis operating from Gatwick airport racked up over 300,000 miles each over three years, with all retaining at least 82 percent of their batteries’ health.

Why does an electric car battery lose charge or degrade?

Continual advances in battery technology mean that issues surrounding degradation of performance are being reduced all the time. However, even the latest lithium-ion cells aren’t completely immune to losing performance over time, with a number of factors playing a role. 

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