How long will my Electric Vehicle Battery last?
We have all likely had first hand experience of battery degradation. Noticing that your Smartphone just isn’t holding charge like it used to when you first got it can be frustrating.
The phone has to be charged more frequently as the battery capacity reduces, and eventually you may even need to replace it.
So, will electric vehicle batteries suffer the same fate?
The batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) share a similar chemistry, meaning that battery degradation may also become a problem. While reduced battery capacity can mean that vehicles will also suffer a decrease in travel range, this is not an issue that many consumers currently worry about. There are also concerns that battery health could adversely affect an EVs residual value.
Chris Plumb, a senior valuations editor at pricing guide cap HPI, states: “In the future, we believe that battery degradation data for used vehicles is likely to be just as important as mileage is for ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles as the used buyer will want to know the state of health of the battery/vehicle they are purchasing.”
“However, in todays market, where nearly all new BEVs (battery electric vehicles) are supplied with an eight-year battery warranty, consumers appear less concerned.”
While degradation of an electric vehicles battery is unavoidable, experts argue that the slight drop in battery capacity may not make much of a difference. The capacity of a battery during its life is referred to as its state of health (SoH) and is calculated using a percentage compared to when it was new and functioning at 100%. A battery with a range of 200 miles when new, when at 90% SoH, would still have a range of 180 miles.
A battery is considered to be at its end of life in a vehicle when it falls to 70% SoH, and experts say this point would likely be reached after about 10 years, although there is the potential for it to last much longer.
At this point, batteries can either be used in second-life applications, like domestic or industrial energy storage, or recycled.
There is no simple answer to how quickly EV batteries degrade, as this can be affected by numerous factors, including ambient conditions, age, and how a battery is charged and discharged.
Alex Johns, the Business Development Manager at Altelium, states that “If you’re driving flat out, breaking heavily, always rapid charging, you’re going to knacker your battery. If you run a battery hard, it might have a quarter of the life compared with if you run it sensibly. I know this because I used to run a taxi fleet at Gatwick airport where we had five Tesla Model S’s.”
“We did 100,000 miles a year on each for three years, so we ran each of them for 300,000 miles. At the end of that, because we deployed various rules around no more than 30% DC charging, the cars were in chill/eco mode so they couldn’t be run like a drag car and things like that. They were driven fairly gently.”
“We had 82% state of health left, give or take very little, car to car, after 300,000 miles. That’s amazing. It’s not just a matter of a few tenths of a percent or a few percent between a hard-worked battery and a not-hard-worked one, it’s hundreds of percent. You could see 400% more life if you run it gently.”
Johns also explains that the average car in the UK is used for only one hour a day, in many instances the primary cause of battery degradation is aging.
In conclusion, the reduction in usable range over years shouldn’t be enough to dissuade you from buying an EV, especially with the nationwide push towards decarbonisation by 2050, but it may affect longer-term owners and second-hand buyers. Currently, all we can do is continue to collect data on EV battery life in future surveys and see what the future holds for Electric Vehicles.
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