We rely on batteries to power our gadgets and are familiar with the concept that, over time, battery charge is lost. This means we need to charge a battery to increase its power and, in some cases, replace the battery.
Electric vehicles (EVs) and their batteries work on the same principle as the ones in our household devices. However, replacing an EV battery is more expensive and a loss in an EV’s battery’s ability to hold a charge can have a noticeable impact on your driving.
Electric car batteries are designed to last a long time, but there are things you can do to maintain your EV battery and help improve its longevity.
What type of batteries do EVs use?
EVs are powered by lithium-ion batteries, similar to those found in your cell phone and laptop. However, there are two distinct types: nickel-free LFT (lithium-iron-phosphate) batteries and high-nickel NCM (containing nickel, cobalt and manganese oxide).
Nickel-free LFTs are typically cheaper and safer, with a longer battery life. They are typically used for electric taxis and buses as they are low-cost and have a long life span. Premium vehicles such as Cadillacs and Porsches typically use high-nickel compositions, which are pricier.
EV batteries don’t all behave in the same way
The same battery in two different vehicles can have a different lifespan or performance. This is influenced by a range of factors such as design type, users, and their driving behaviours.
Do EV batteries require more maintenance?
The simple answer is no. EV batteries are maintenance-free and their running costs are considerably lower than comparable petrol-fuelled cars. It’s worth factoring this into the price of an EV if you’re doing a comparison. For example, EV owners don’t need to have an oil change or a tune-up because the car doesn’t require these. Electric cars also rely on coasting to regenerate their battery charge, which reduces wear and tear on braking components.
How much does a new battery cost?
A new battery, depending on its size and the brand of EV, costs between $5,000 to $10,000. As battery technology improves, you may be able to buy a battery with more capacity than your EV initially came with.
Now that we’ve explored a bit about EV batteries, here’s what EV owners can do to extend the lifespan of their battery.
Keep the ‘state of charge’ between 20 to 80%
Avoid keeping your battery empty or full. Instead, change the settings on your car or car charger to limit the charge to around 80% and keep it above 20% if you can. Most daily or weekly driving is easily covered by the range of most EVs. Most of us don’t even need it fully charged, so try to keep it between 20% and 80%, except for longer trips.
Don’t let your car sit on 0% for too long
Never leave your EV parked for long periods with a 0% charge, as this can cause the vehicle’s battery to degrade. EVs lose small amounts of charge when they’re parked and not driven, so it’s essential to check in on your vehicle’s charge level and ensure it remains between 20% and 80%. An electric car battery replacement can be expensive, so it’s important to look after it and minimise degradation if you want to save money.
Don’t leave your car fully charged for too long
EVs that are parked or stored with a full battery for long periods also degrade the battery. If you don’t use your EV often, or you need to store it because you’re going away, get a timed charger. That’s because the battery will struggle to preserve its state of charge if its left at 100% for a long period.
Minimise rapid charging
Rapid charging is great when you need a charge quickly, particularly if you’re only stopping between meetings or if you’re on a long drive. While you shouldn’t be scared to use rapid chargers, continued use can degrade the battery faster than a slower charge. It might be hard to notice degradation with the battery, but eight years of standard charging will give you 10% more battery life compared to eight years using fast charging.
Allow your car to cool down before charging
Charging an EV in icy weather not only shortens the lifespan of the battery but it can also damage it, especially if it’s been parked outside. Take your car out for a drive first to warm it up, instead of charging it from a completely cold state.