Whether it’s the cost of gas or going green, the electric car market has been booming for the last few years. People more than ever seem interested in this particular segment of the automobile industry.
But before investing in an electric vehicle, it’s only normal that people have some concerns about this relatively new branch in the industry. People often seem concerned and confused about the batteries of electric cars.
So in today’s article, I would like to address the question of how much does an electric car battery cost? Moreover, maintenance, lifespan, recycling, and any related topics I have covered all here. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Battery in an Electric Car?
Battery replacement for your electric vehicle can one an average costs anywhere between $3000 to $20000. This wide price range is that the battery replacement cost depends on various factors. Your EV model and the type of battery you choose primarily decide the cost. Expensive model of EVs typically has higher replacement cost. Moreover, you get free replacement batteries within 8 years and 100,000 miles as per most manufacturers’ warranties.
Why Is An Electric Car Battery So Expensive?
Though there are many benefits to an electric vehicle, obtaining those benefits will cost you a fortune in today’s market. And a large chunk of an electric vehicle’s cost comes from the battery. It alone makes a difference of several thousand dollars. So, now that you know how much does an electric car battery cost, you might be wondering what makes electric vehicle batteries so expensive?
Several factors are playing behind the reason. First, the raw materials and expensive manufacturing processes are the primary reasons. Though it’s the typical lithium-ion batteries, they are much bigger in EVs. Additionally, there are expensive stuff like manganese, lithium, and cobalt rising the cost. Then comes the battery manufacturers, who separately make the batteries and send them to EV manufacturers. This outsourcing makes things more expensive.
The Use, Operation, and Reuse of Battery Power in Electric Automobiles
Electric vehicles use a motor instead of the internal combustion engines of regular automobiles. So, we know traditional cars run on gas engine. So what powers the electric motors inside EVs? A traction battery pack, mostly lithium-ion, runs the motor inside an EV.
A lithium-ion battery pack consists of the cathode and the anode. The anode stores the lithium in the battery. There is a separator, which is a plastic filter separating these two sides. The electrolyte in the battery carries the lithium ions from the cathode to the anode through the separator.
When the discharge of lithium-ion from the cathode reaches the anode via the electrolyte, it produces the necessary power for the EV. When you plug the battery in for recharging, this whole thing works in reverse.
As for the reuses, there is a massive scope in that particular field too. For the time being, these batteries can be directly used in other vehicles. Additionally, these batteries are getting reused as power storage for homes, buildings, or even grid-level solar.
Do Electric Cars Save Money?
There are two ways to look at the whole cost-effectiveness matter. When asking how much does an electric car battery cost, most of you would think about the cost effectiveness part too. One is the cost of the car itself and then comes the fuel and maintenance cost. If we talk about the electric car only, it’s pretty pricier than any standard gasoline engine car.
But on the bright side, the maintenance cost and electricity bill coming from charging your vehicles are way less than the gas bill and maintenance of a regular car. Unlike gas cars, you don’t have to run to the gas station every time. You can make charging station for EV at home.
If we look at this calculation, electric cars can save you a lot of money in the long run. The cheaper electricity bill makes up for the initial higher price you have paid for the EV. Moreover, you can even save that electricity bill by generating your own electricity.
Expected Lifespan of Electric Car Batteries
It’s a little hard to predict since the lifespan depends on various factors. After knowing how much does an electric car battery cost, it’s pretty normal to get to calculating your investments value. Most manufacturers offer a battery warranty of eight years or 100000 miles of range. You can also predict the lifespan from here. Moreover, it’s only the warranty coverage. In reality, a car battery should last anywhere tween 10 to 20 years and get you well over 200000 miles.
How to Maximize Electric Car Battery Life?
Electric car batteries already have a long lifespan. However, if you want to maximize it further and make the most out of your investment, here are some tips.
- Avoiding overcharging is the key. Try to avoid overnight charging and keep the battery percentage 20% to 80% to avoid fully draining or overcharging.
- Avoid using fast charging. When you use fast charging, too much current goes into the battery. Eventually, it’ll degrade your battery lifespan. Here are some top chargers for EVs you can check out.
- Keep the battery off from too high or low temperature. Because the thermal management system will start to work then, reducing the battery’s efficiency.
Electric Car Battery Recycling
As much as we appreciate the electric vehicle industry’s growth, certain drawbacks have a massive impact on our environment. EVs are known as eco-friendly, but what about millions of dead batteries from those cars?
The scariest part is no one seems to talk much about this issue. Though the car is eco-friendly, the battery manufacturing process emits global warming. However, few initiatives have been taken to recycle these batteries.
In the past, only about 5% of lithium-ion batteries were recycled, but the number is increasing slowly. Nissan and Volkswagen are also opening recycling plants to address this issue. After recycling, these batteries have tremendous potential to become an excellent energy storage solution for residents.
Electric Car Battery Manufacturers: What Are Electric Car Batteries Made Of?
An electric car battery consists of various materials. Most of the materials come from different countries, and that’s the reason behind the high battery prices. Here is a list of materials found in electric car batteries.
- Cobalt: Found in the battery’s cathode; this is the most expensive material. Almost two-thirds of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Nickel: Nickel is another material of battery, minded from Indonesia and the Philippines. Though it’s not as expensive as cobalt, it’s not cheap either. Nickel has the highest amount in the battery in terms of material ratio.
- Manganese: Manganese is another material found in electric car batteries. This one is cheap, and it has the highest ratio after nickel the battery. Almost 80% of the world’s manganese is mined from South Africa.
- Lithium: Lastly, we have lithium, the material after which a lithium-ion battery is made. Though it has the least amount in a battery, its discharge generates the power. Lithium is mostly mined from Argentina, Australia, and Chile.
Types of Batteries Used in Electric Vehicles
With the popularity of the electric vehicle market, the variety of batteries has increased simultaneously. Every day new sizes and styles are coming into the market with different batteries. Here is a short breakdown of batteries you’ll see in electric vehicles.
Lithium-ion is the most widely used battery you’ll notice in electric vehicles. You might also know it from your smartphone, laptop, or any other day-to-day device battery. The main reason it’s popular is that it’s cost-effective with an excellent power to weight ratio. Electric vehicle batteries are not cheap, so the slower discharge rate makes lithium-ion a viable choice.
Nickel-Metal Hybrid Battery
Next up, we have nickel-metal hybrid batteries. This battery is mostly seen in hybrid electric vehicles, those running on both gas and battery power. The main benefit of using a nickel-metal battery is that it has an excellent battery cycle and handles rough usage really well. On the drawback, these batteries get hot easily and are pretty expensive than lithium-ion.
Lead Acid Battery
Before the era of lithium-ion batteries, led acid was the EV car battery industry. Lead-acid batteries are made of inexpensive materials, are easy to manufacture, and don’t get hot very easily. However, due to the high power requirement of today’s EVs, these batteries are not used as the primary source of power. Instead, these batteries supplement the primary battery load as ancillary load.
This last option isn’t a battery in the traditional sense. Instead, ultracapacitors are only used when an EV needs additional power. For example, while accelerating, hill climbing, or braking, ultracapacitors provide the necessary amounts of energy. Moreover, it can also increase the load of traditional batteries too.
The Truth About EV Battery Degradation
Even after knowing about the benefits of electric vehicles, and how much does an electric car battery cost, you might not be convinced enough about buying an electric car. There are many misconceptions about battery degradation, and here is the truth.
So, the most important thing to note here is that EV batteries never die suddenly. Over time, they degrade. Now the question here is whether the degradation rate is normal or not? Typically, a bigger battery usually has a slower degradation rate. Let me explain why.
A battery’s lifespan depends on the charging cycle it has. For example, whether big or small, imagine a car battery with a 1000 charging cycle, meaning you can charge that battery a thousand times. Here comes the battery factor, as the bigger battery lets you go further with one full charge. As you get a longer range, you don’t charge the battery as often as smaller batteries. Therefore, the battery degradation becomes slower.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Will a Battery Need Replacing During the Life of the Car?
A) Since electric vehicles are a fairly modern trend, it's hard to say how long an electric car will last. If it lasts for decades like regular cars do, the battery might need replacing every 10 to 20 years, depending on various factors.
Q2. Does EV Charging Affect The Battery Life?
A) Yes, it does, but not in the wrong way. Every battery needs charging, which eventually reduces the battery's charging circle. As long as you are not overcharging or fast charging, regular charging won't affect the battery life badly.
Q3. What Can Be Done About EV Battery Sourcing Issues?
A) As materials in EVs rely on natural resource mining, the sourcing issues will worsen in the future. The rarest and most expensive material is cobalt. EV manufacturers like Nissan started making batteries without cobalt to avoid sourcing issues. Other manufacturers following that can solve the problem.
As far as other materials go, like lithium, there is an oversupply currently, and efforts are underway to generate new sources in different countries. That should solve the sourcing issues of these materials for at least a few decades going forward.
Q4. How Safe Are Electric Car Batteries?
A) Chemical leakage inside the battery can easily cause fire and electrocution. When damaged, the risk is even higher. However, these accidents' chance is relatively low compared to gas vehicles.
Q5. How Much Does a Tesla Model 3 Battery Replacement Cost?
A) Previously, I have mentioned that the average price of replacement is $3000 to $20000. However, for Model 3 by Tesla, the price falls in the moderate category. You'll have to spend at least $13000 as the battery replacement costs for this popular entry-level sedan from Elon Musk’s Tesla.
Q6. How Many Batteries Are in an Electric Car?
A) Battery arrangement in vehicles is slightly different from any battery-powered device. Instead of single batteries, electric cars have a series of modules, i.e., smaller batteries and battery cells in battery packs. For example, you'll see 16 modules in a Tesla 85 kWh battery pack.
Q7. How Much Current Should My Battery Draw When the Car Is Idle?
A) Like any battery-powered device, electric car batteries also have parasitic power draw. While sitting idle, there is always a small but constant power draw going on. Usually, a current draw of 25 milliamps to 50 milliamps is acceptable. Anything past 100 milliamps should be considered unusual.
That’s a wrap for today. Driving an electric car is not something uncommon these days. With the upgrades and cost-effectiveness in the industry, EVs are not far from becoming a mainstream competitor of gas vehicles.
Of course, like any battery, EV batteries too lose their capacity and range, but pretty slowly. So, you don’t have to worry about the range for several years. On top of that, manufacturers also provide warranties to ensure consumers about the battery range. After knowing how much does an electric car battery cost, it should at least put an end to your concern about the battery.
Even with all these benefits, I am not saying it’s anywhere near the mileage or the instant refueling capability of gas vehicles. However, at the speed the EV car industry is moving ahead, that day is not very far ahead.