Like the batteries found in smartphones and laptops, electric car batteries degrade and become less effective over time.
Most manufacturers have a five to eight-year warranty on their battery. However, the current prediction is that an electric car battery will last from 10 – 20 years before they need to be replaced.
EV batteries undergo cycles of 'discharge' that occur when driving and 'charge' when the car's plugged in. Repeating this process over time affects the amount of charge the battery can hold.
To preserve the life of an electric vehicle battery, manufacturers ensure that there is additional spare capacity to compensate for degradation over time.
Once the battery capacity falls below 80%, drivers may start to notice a fall in the range and performance of the battery.
Life after powering a car
Manufacturers are researching how EV batteries can be repurposed once they've hit retirement age.
Repurposing EV batteries to power homes and buildings is proving to work well. For homes powered with renewable energy such as wind or solar, an EV battery can store up power to use throughout the night when wind and sunlight are reduced.
Manufacturers are exploring how to recycle batteries once they reach the end of life. Separating out valuable materials such as cobalt, lithium salts, stainless steel, copper, aluminium, and plastic is an option. Currently, this is a costly process which would need to be refined to meet the volume of recycling expected post 2030.
Electric car battery replacement cost
The cost of batteries fell about 80% between 2010 and 2016 according to global management consultants McKinsey. By 2016, the cost of a battery had fallen from $1000 to $227/kWh.
Some predictions estimate that prices are set to fall below $100/kWh by 2030.
Many manufacturers provide a warranty of up to 8 years or 100,000 miles. Meaning that if you need to replace it earlier than expected, it could be covered under warranty.
The environmental impact
Batteries of all forms can prove difficult to dispose of without harming the environment. The same goes for EV batteries. However, projects are underway to reduce the environmental impact of disposal, such as the process of grounding the battery to a fine powder to extract raw materials that can be rebuilt into more EV batteries.