One of the most common questions that people have when they start thinking about buying an Electric car is just how long they last. While petrol cars can last between 150,000 to 300,000 miles, the question remains: how long can we expect an electric car to last?
In this article, we will delve into the factors that affect the lifespan of an electric car, including battery degradation, regular maintenance, and manufacturer warranties. When you have finished reading you’ll have a better understanding of how long an electric car might last and some tips to make sure that it lasts as long as possible.
How long do electric cars typically last?
With electric cars being so new, there is less data and analysis on the life expectancy of an EV compared to traditional cars. However, based on the current battery lifespan estimates available, electric car components are estimated to last between 10 and 20 years.
How long do electric car batteries last?
As referenced above, research from Battery University estimates the batteries used in electric cars can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years or more. The battery is one of the most critical components of an electric car, and its lifespan is a major factor in determining that electric cars will last 10-20 years without major servicing work.
What causes an EV battery to degrade?
EV batteries will degrade over time due to several factors:
- The number of charge cycles: Every time an EV battery is charged and discharged, it loses a small amount of its capacity. The more you use it the more it will degrade over time, so it’s important to avoid overcharging your EV when you don’t need to
- Temperature: High temperatures can make a battery degrade more, while low temperatures can temporarily reduce the battery’s capacity, so you need it just right (said Goldilocks). EV batteries perform best at moderate temperatures, you might find that your EV comes with a battery thermal management system to regulate the temperature of the battery
- Age of the battery: As the battery gets older its ability to hold a charge will gradually decrease
- Underuse: If an EV is left parked and not charged the battery will gradually lose charge down to zero, frequently charging a battery from zero will have a negative impact on how long it lasts.
- Charging speed: Fast charging with a large burst of power can generate heat and cause the battery to degrade faster. Slow charging is less stressful on the battery so trickle charging may help you maintain the battery’s lifespan
What other factors can affect the lifespan of an electric car?
There are plenty of other factors besides the battery that can affect the lifespan of an electric car. Here are a few that we can think of:
The electric motor is a key component of an electric car, and its lifespan can also affect the overall lifespan of the vehicle. The motor is simpler than those found in petrol engine cars, but it still requires regular maintenance to make sure it lasts longer.
Did you know that the tyres on an electric car can wear out faster than those on a petrol car due to the weight distribution of the battery? Keep on top of tyre maintenance!
Electric cars now use something called ‘regenerative braking’ to slow down the vehicle, which should in theory reduce the wear and tear on the brake pads. However, the brake pads will still need to be looked after and serviced in order to sustain the overall lifespan of the vehicle.
Like any car, you should look to service your electric car regularly. Regular servicing helps to keep the EV running smoothly and can help technicians spot any potential future issues early on, then you can prevent them from becoming more serious and causing further damage to the vehicle.
Can you swap out an EV battery?
It is certainly possible to swap out an electric vehicle battery, but it’s not always easy or cheap! It depends entirely on the make and model of the EV.
Nio has developed a battery swapping system for some of their models, where the battery can be swapped out quickly at a Nio battery swap station. However, for most other EV models, swapping out the battery is challenging and time-consuming.
Also, its worth noting that battery technology and voltage can vary between EV models, and even between different years of the same model. So swapping out a battery with a different specification can potentially cause damage to the vehicle! If you do swap out your EV battery you can expect your EV battery to be recycled in accordance with UK law.
Does the way you drive impact how long an electric car lasts?
The way you drive an electric car can definitely impact how long the vehicle lasts. There are 3 key ways in which your driving style can directly impact the lifespan of your EV:
- Acceleration: Hard acceleration can cause the battery to drain faster and can also put a fair bit of stress on the electric motor. Gradual acceleration is a better idea, it’s gentler on the battery
- Braking: Frequently braking aggressively can cause the brake pads to wear and also waste a lot of energy that could otherwise be used to recharge the battery. Think about the traffic flow ahead of you and brake more gradually
- Driving at fast speeds: The faster you drive the more the cars aerodynamic drag increases, meaning the battery has to work harder and drains more quickly
How to store an EV for a long time?
If you need to store your EV for a while and don’t do so correctly, it can impact the overall lifespan of the car. It’s important to take proper precautions to ensure the battery and other components remain in good condition. Here are some additional tips on how to store your electric car correctly:
Charge the Battery: Ensure that the battery is fully charged before storing the car. This will help prevent the battery from losing its charge over time.
Disconnect the 12-Volt Battery: In addition to the main battery pack, electric cars also have a 12-volt auxiliary battery that powers the vehicle’s accessories, such as lights and an audio system. It’s recommended to disconnect the 12-volt battery to prevent it from draining and running flat. If our 12-Volt battery does run out completely you can jump-start an electric vehicle in the same way that you would a petrol car.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Just like a fine wine, you should store your electric car in a cool, dry place, such as a garage. This will help to protect the car from nasty weather and humidity.
Inflate the tyres: Get them to the recommended pressure to prevent flat spots from developing. If possible, move the car occasionally if you can, to prevent the tires from becoming flat on one side.
Cover the Car: Use a car cover to protect it from dust and bird poop!
What should I look for when buying an electric car to ensure a long lifespan?
Check the electric vehicles MOT history, you can do this online at the Gov website. Any repeat red flags that might indicate the EV has longer-term issues?
It’s also worth looking for an electric car that has an effective battery cooling system, as this can help to extend the lifespan of the battery. High temperatures can cause the battery to degrade more quickly, so a cooling system can help to regulate the temperature and protect the battery.
It’s really important to carefully study the manufacturer’s warranty when purchasing an EV. Look for an electric car with a manufacturer’s warranty that covers the battery and other components.
How to compare EV warranties
When comparing electric vehicle (EV) warranties, here are a few things you should study to make sure you are comfortable with the level of cover:
- The basics – how much overall coverage is there?
Check the duration and mileage limits of the basic warranty, also known as the bumper-to-bumper warranty. This coverage typically includes most components of the vehicle, excluding wear-and-tear items like brakes and tires. Look for a warranty with a longer duration and higher mileage limit to maximise coverage.
- Battery cover
We know that the battery is one of the most expensive and crucial components of an EV, pay special attention to the battery warranty. Look for warranties that offer a longer duration and higher mileage limit.
Warranties should be transferable to new owners if you sell them, which can increase the resale value of your EV. Check whether the warranty you are considering is transferable and if any fees or conditions apply.
- Exclusions and limitations
Check the warranty terms to understand any exclusions or limitations, as they may impact the coverage and support you receive.
The final word on how long electric cars last
With proper care and maintenance, and a bit of due diligence during the purchase process, electric cars can last for at least 10 to 20 years and likely beyond.
How long an electric car lasts will depend on several factors, including the battery’s size, cooling system, and how you approach charging the vehicle – ensure you have chosen the best EV charger to suit your vehicle and be sure to regularly maintain that charger. Driving style also plays a part, try to drive with gentle acceleration and braking, keep your speeds down and this may help to extend the lifespan of your electric vehicle.
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John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.