One of the common concerns about electric vehicles is battery lifespan, but you needn’t be concerned during your ownership.
EV batteries last around 200,000 miles before they become inefficient. We know this because manufacturers of batteries say so, and they test the batteries to produce the figures.
To highlight this, Tesla says the capacity retention of Tesla batteries averages ~90% after 200,000 miles of usage.
Additionally, Elon Musk says Tesla car batteries are designed to last 300,000 to 500,000 miles before requiring replacement. This equates to around 1,500 charge cycles, or between 22 and 37 years for the average car driver.
Fearing the battery won’t last is only natural when 12V batteries are unreliable and most smartphones give up the ghost after a few years.
The reality is all batteries degrade, but the rate of degradation in EV batteries is so slow you are unlikely to own a car for long enough to notice any problems.
EV manufacturers also give batteries decent warranties. Volkswagen guarantees a minimum capacity of 70 per cent for eight years or 100,000 miles. The company has also gone on record to say their batteries last the life of the car.
Rivian’s battery warranty is eight years or 175,000 miles, a class-leading mileage guarantee that demonstrates the quality of their battery packs.
Ultimately, the battery will probably last significantly longer than the warranty covers it for, just as engines and gearboxes do in ICE vehicles.
Of course, Musk’s words and warranty guarantees only go so far as to alleviate concerns over battery lifespan. So, what does the data tell us?
What the data tells us about battery lifespan
GEOTAB offers outstanding insight into the topic. They studied 6,000 electric vehicle batteries and found that the vast majority of EV batteries will outlive the vehicle.
Here’s a summary of their findings:
- EV batteries exhibit high levels of sustained health, “If the observed degradation rates are maintained, the vast majority of batteries will outlast the usable life of the vehicle.”
- The average battery capacity loss across all 6,000 vehicles was 2.3% per year, but looking after the battery slashes the loss to 1.6%.
- Charging behaviour impacts degradation, with a 20-80% charge level demonstrating the best capacity maintenance over a battery’s lifespan.
Breaking down this data, EV batteries slowly lose capacity over time (around 2% per year) but good charging practices reduce range loss.
EV batteries are designed to last as long as the vehicle itself, around 200,000 miles. For most people, this covers over fifteen years of ownership.
There are electric cars with over 100,000 miles on them that haven’t lost more than 10% capacity. Indeed, Tesla says its cars maintain 90% capacity after 200,000 miles of usage, and they are not a special case.
Whether it’s Volkswagen, Vauxhall, BMW, Rivian or Tesla, an electric car battery should last the life of the vehicle unless it is damaged.
An exception applies in special cases of extremely high mileage like this one where a taxi firm in California racked up 400,000 miles in a 2015 Tesla Model S.