Are you considering an electric vehicle but worried about how long the battery will last? It's a common concern, and the truth is that we don't have a definitive answer yet. However, there is some promising data to ease your worries.
Battery replacements are relatively rare
One of the main reasons battery life is a concern is because lithium-ion batteries, which are used in most electric cars, start degrading as soon as they are made. This affects their range, and over time, they become less efficient. But here's the good news: the lithium-ion battery in your EV is far more sophisticated than the batteries in your other devices, and it's designed to last well beyond its warranty period.
Car manufacturers estimate that an electric vehicle should last between 15 and 20 years, but we can't be certain yet since they haven't been around long enough. Most EVs on the road have been there for less than six years, and only a small percentage of batteries have been replaced once the warranty period ends. Recurrent estimate that 1.5% of EVs in the US have had their battery replaced (outside of big recalls like the Chevy Bolt).
We can also see that earlier generation EVs have higher battery replacement rates than later models. For example, Recurrent data shows that the Tesla Model S has higher out-of-warranty replacements than, say, the Tesla Model 3. Part of this is simply age, part of it is OEMs learning a thing or two about how to manage batteries better.
What about warranty?
Electric vehicle warranties are similar to regular car warranties, except for the battery, which is vital to the vehicle's operation. Manufacturers can decide what percentage of original battery capacity is ensured over a certain period, typically 8 years or 160,000 kilometres - that's the guideline in the US and local conditions can vary.
For instance, Tesla offers various warranties depending on the Model, with the Model S and X having an 8-year or 240,000km warranty, with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period. Meanwhile, the rear-wheel drive Model 3 and Y offer an 8-year or 160,000km warranty with a 70% guarantee. BMW and Volkswagen also offer a similar 70% guarantee for 8 years or 160,000km, while Hyundai had a lifetime warranty between 2012 and 2019, and from 2020 onwards, the battery is guaranteed to maintain 70% of its capacity for ten years or 160,000km.*
Although it is challenging to determine precisely how long an electric vehicle battery will last, these warranties should reinforce the notion that they last for quite a while. As technology improves, we should expect to see batteries that will show only slight degradation over decades or hundreds of thousands of kilometres. So, who knows? Maybe the million-mile battery is out there!
And if it's not? Oh well, we'll be ready to make sure it gets re-used, repurposed or recycled properly!.
* Always check with the OEM for the latest warranty facts, as these may change at any time (and we probably won't update this blog post when that happens, soz).