EV battery life – How long do electric car batteries last?

Driving an electric vehicle or thinking about buying one, many people question the lifetime of the car battery. We want to give you some answers to the concerns you might have. Indeed, some potential EV drivers are insecure about this topic because of long-lasting rumors about the battery lifetime. We hope to give you an insight, so you can make up your own mind.

First, we want to point out, what we are actually writing about. Indeed, there is a difference between the lasting time of a battery for one trip and the lifetime of a battery. In this article, we want to focus on the lifetime of EV batteries.


What is the lifecycle of an electric car battery?

The lifetime of a battery describes the time, in which the battery functions at a certain level. Typically, batteries lose capacity over their lifetime, meaning that new batteries last longer than old ones. This is an effect which you have probably noticed on your mobile phone.

The end of a battery life is defined in relation to its capacity at the beginning of its lifetime.

For example, some companies might say, that the battery has reached its end of life when it only has 40% capacity of the capacity which it had when it came out of the factory.


Which factors have a negative impact on EVs battery lifetime?

The following factors impact and shorten the lithium battery lifetime:

  • High temperatures
  • Constant overcharging
  • Deep discharges
  • Number of charging cycles

High Temperatures

If the battery gets too hot for a certain time, the aging of the battery is accelerated. (Rule of thumb: 10 Kelvin more double the aging speed)

Constant overcharging

Lithium batteries should not be kept constantly at a very high SoC Level. What is good for the lead batteries does not apply for lithium batteries.

Deep discharges

Lithium batteries should not be discharged under 0%, usually, the companies define the SoC range not in the chemical maximum range of the battery cells, to ensure that the batteries are not discharged to low.

Number of charging cycles

EV batteries are typically lithium-based batteries, in contrast, to lead batteries, which you can find in fuel driven cars (to start the car and to keep the voltage at a certain level), lithium batteries live through a lot more battery charging cycles.

A charging cycle describes the fully charging and fully recharging process of a battery.

The battery life is affected by the number of charge cycles. A high number of charge cycles cause the battery to fade.


Tips to extend the battery life of an electric vehicle

Different factors can help your EV battery last longer.

  • Avoiding full charging
  • Avoiding Deep Discharging
  • Parking in the shade during high temperatures, in a garage during cold weather.
  • Minimize fast charging. Just use it, when really needed.
  • Driving at a high speed

Avoiding full charging

As we said, one should avoid keeping the battery SoC at 100% all the time. We recommend charging lithium batteries to around 80%.

So if you own an EV, make sure to not keep it on a Level-1 charger over each night. If you have a home charging station, that can be programmed or is a smart home charging station, that’s even better for you.

With a smart home charging station, you can set a timer, to start charging early enough for you to go on your trip the next morning.

Avoiding Deep Discharging

Don’t let your EV battery discharge completely before recharging. And If your car is at a very low SoC, make sure, that you do not let it stay uncharged for too long. If you know, you will not use it in the near future, charge it to 40% or 50%.

Parking in the shade during high temperatures, in a garage during cold weather

Your parking space can have a huge impact on the temperature of the car battery. If you chose parking spots in mild temperatures, you can have a lot more fun with your EV battery. In other words, keep it cool.

Minimizing fast charging. Just use it, when really needed

When charging with high currents, the battery cells will heat up, with the right cooling solutions this effect can be minimized by the car companies. But if you minimize the fast charging, to the times where you really need it, it will have a positive effect on the battery lifetime.

Driving at a high speed

If you can, try having a smarter approach to driving fast. Indeed, by driving slower, your battery won’t run down too fast and you won’t have to charge it too often and during long hours.


What to do when the battery is not good enough anymore?

Some car manufacturers give you the opportunity to rent the battery and if the battery does not work as planned anymore, you get the chance to change the battery.


The CO2 impact of the battery life

The battery life has an impact on the CO2 pollution over the lifetime of the vehicle. CO2 is polluted due to the energy consumption during the production and due to the material production, which is used in the battery. Of course, the CO2 production for the energy depends on the energy mix of the country, in which the battery is produced. Overall we can say, that the longer the battery can be used, the smaller the CO2 footprint becomes. If you want to keep your personal global footprint small, you should think about using our tips ensuring a long battery lifetime.

One option to ensure a smaller energy consumption could be ensured by recycling batteries.


Can electric car batteries be recycled?

Yes, and fortunately, lithium batteries used to power electric vehicles can be recycled.

Right now, the recycling market for automotive batteries is still very small because the number of old car batteries is still very low.

Typically, the recycling Process includes the following steps:

First, the battery is dissembled. The battery cells are taken out of the battery box. This step is needed to expose the cells from possibly a protection cast, cooling systems, and energy management systems.

Afterward, the cells are melted in a furnace, during this process the metals cobalt, copper and nickel can be excluded.

Remaining is a slag of lithium carbonate, which is contained with aluminum and iron. In additional chemical processes, the Lithium can be extracted.

Building batteries with recycled materials could minimize the energy need for production by up to 50% in the future.


Batteries second life

Other concepts to ensure a better CO2 footprint for the batteries are second life concepts. Many companies are developing concepts to use batteries after their life in an electric vehicle.

Nissan revealed a concept to light streets at night by saving power from solar light, which is generated over the day, in old EV batteries. This concept does not rely on batteries working in the full range but require a battery size, that can easily be matched by old batteries.

Other concepts go in the same direction; in these concepts, the battery is installed in a home with solar panels. This concept enables the user to use his own solar-energy.

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