How Long Should An Electric Car’s Battery Last

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Electric Vehicles (EVs) are mechanically simpler than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, with their complexity focused on the electrical system. There is an electrical component vital to determining the electric car battery life: the Traction Battery Pack, also known as the EV battery. EV batteries vary in capacity from 40 kWh on average up to 100 kWh in some cases, working as the main fuel source for EVs.

Figure 1: EV Battery

Learning about the average life of an electric car battery and the different components that drain it, will help you understand how to take care of it. In this article, we explain the expected lifespan for EV batteries, the components that drain the EV battery life, and what happens to an EV battery after it reaches the end of its lifespan.

How Long Should an Electric Car’s Battery Last?

Electric car battery life expectancy has reached its end when the traction battery pack can only retain 80% of its designed capacity. Manufacturers like Nissan, Chevy, and Tesla, cover most of their EVs for the EV battery life, going for 100,000 miles or up to 8 years.

After an electric car battery lifespan can retain only 80% of its capacity, it will degrade at a faster pace. However, even though an electric car battery has reached the end of its lifespan, it has been found that EV batteries can satisfy the needs of most EV drivers until they only hold 50% of their designed capacity.

Some studies show that an EV battery has truly reached the end of its lifespan after 200,000 miles of driving or around 12 years. At this point, you may need to exchange the EV battery, which ranges in cost from $3,000 up to more than $20,000.

All the Things That Drain Your EV Battery

Lithium-Ion EV batteries feature a limited number of charge and discharge cycles. Learning about the devices and external factors that consume your battery, allows you to reduce the pace at which it is discharged, therefore extending the electric vehicle battery life.

Battery Heating and Cooling

Figure 2: Battery THermal Management System

The Battery Thermal Management System (BTMS) or battery heating and cooling system, is a thermodynamic and heat transfer system that maintains ideal temperatures of 20ºC to 40ºC at the battery. This is a vital system for vehicle performance and battery life, since exposing batteries to extreme temperatures can rapidly drain their capacity, lower their performance, and reduce their lifespan.

The specific power consumption varies on the BTMS used for an EV. On ideal conditions, the BTMS consumes less than 1 kW, less than ideal temperatures make the BTMS consumption go up from 1 kW to 2 kW, while extreme cold temperatures require using a resistive heater that consumes more than 5 kW.

Secondary Vehicle Systems Scoring

Aside from the primary vehicle systems like the Electric Engine that consumes 0.25 to 0.50 kWh/mile and the BTMS, there are secondary vehicle systems and external factors that drain your EV battery. Most of these consume a small amount of power but adding these up results in battery drainage that reduces the driving range of your EV.

To help you estimate and extend the average battery life of your electric car, we recommend learning the average scoring for secondary vehicle systems. This is the best way to keep tabs on devices that take a little power from your battery at a time. In the following sections, we dive into these secondary systems and explain how much power they demand from your vehicle.

Cabin Heating and Cooling

The HVAC system or cabin heating and cooling system are one of the largest battery drainers. Some HVAC systems take from 3 – 4 kW to operate air conditioning, while EVs like the Tesla Model 3 consumes 4.8 kW to keep temperature cold, and consume up to 6.4 kW to start cooling the cabin.

The heating system demands 4.3 kW up to 8 kW to heat the cabin. It is estimated that the HVAC system consumes 5% up to 15% of your average EV battery life, being one of the largest battery drains. Only using the seat heater, demands around 500W or 0.5 kW from your battery.

Lighting

The lighting system on an EV requires a small amount of power since it uses efficient technology that consumes less than 50 Wh. This is equivalent to reducing nearly 9 miles from the remaining driving range of the vehicle.

Audio and Infotainment

EVs are usually equipped with 200 W audio systems, but they consume on average 20 W, making them quite efficient. The problem comes with modern infotainment systems featuring several displays and high-capacity processors that consume around 350 W since they represent a higher challenge for the average EV battery life.

USB Chargers (and Wipers)

EVs come with USB chargers used to recharge smartphones (25 Wh), tablets (25 Wh), and other electronics. These chargers and other components like the windscreen wipers, demand a small toll from your electric car battery life cycle, consuming the equivalent of 30 ft. of driving range per charging hour.

Brakes and Suspension

Many EVs feature Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS), suspension compressors, and other components that aid the driving experience. These secondary driving components demand a small amount of energy of around 100 Wh, equivalent to 0.3 miles of your driving range per hour of drive.

However, it is important to consider the regenerative braking system. This system can reabsorb 10% to 25% of the energy spend while driving in urban locations.

Aerodynamic Drag and Speed

Figure 3: EV aerodynamic drag uncovered wheels vs. covered wheels

Top speed and aerodynamic designs can also impact the performance and average life of an electric car battery. EVs like the Tesla Model 3 feature an aerodynamic coefficient drag (Cd) of 0.23, while the Lightyear One broke this record for EVs with a Cd lower than 0.20.

Aerodynamic drag makes EV engines consume around 9.5 kW at 70 mph, reducing the speed to 68 mph can impact battery life, reducing drag consumption down to 8.7 kW. This highlights the importance of aerodynamic Cd and top speed on the average life of an EV battery.

Weight

Increasing weight in an EV by considering the passengers and luggage can impact the electric car battery life. On average, increasing the weight of the EV by 1% increases electricity consumption by 1%. Meaning that every 40 – 50 pounds, increases battery consumption by 1%.

Tires

The potential impact of tires used on EVs is surprisingly high. The wrong kind of tire can impact battery consumption and increase noise, but this also works the other way around. For instance, ENSO Tyres can extend driving range, going up to 11.5% in the most drastic scenarios.

EV Idling

EVs consume around 1% of the battery per day in idle mode to power circuit boards and other components. If your vehicle consumes more than this, it is recommended to check features that might be draining your battery while in idle mode.

What Happens After an Electric Vehicle Battery Dies?

Figure 4: EV battery second life

After the battery life expectancy for electric cars has reached its end, it is time for the batteries’ second life to start. Here we explain how EV batteries are reused and recycled afterward.

Reuse

There will be around 85 million EVs worldwide by 2030, which is why finding a second life for the EV battery that can only retain 80% of its capacity can help the environment and the economy. Repurposed batteries or EV Second Life Batteries (SLB) can be used as stationary batteries for home battery storage systems, extending the lifespan of the battery by 4 or even 16 years more.

Recycle

Most EVs with an SLB will be recycled by the end of that second life. Some EV Lithium-Ion batteries may not be as lucky and have to be recycled after they reach the end of their life for EV applications. Recycling EV batteries reduces waste by reusing valuable materials within EV batteries that can be used to manufacture new Lithium-Ion batteries or for many other applications.

Nick Zamanov
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Nick Zamanov is a head of sales and business development at Cyber Switching. He is an expert in EV infrastructure space and he is an EV enthusiast since 2012, Since then Nick strongly believed that electric vehicles would eventually replace Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars.

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