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How long do electric car batteries last? How much do replacements cost?

Motorists concerned about their carbon footprint might consider getting an electric car but worry about battery life, and how much replacements might cost.

Motorists concerned about their carbon footprint might consider getting an electric car but worry about battery life, and how much replacements might cost.
Ina FassbenderREUTERS

With concerns growing about greenhouse gas emissions and high gasoline prices, electric vehicles (EV) have slowly but steadily been gaining popularity in recent years. Sales of electric cars have been on the rise in recent years, surging from only 0.2% of total car sales in 2011 to 4.6% in 2021, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor.

One concern about electric vehicles is how long the life of batteries will last, and how much it would cost to replace them. Worries about batteries are valid as they can comprise up to 50-70% of the car’s value, according to Recurrent, an independent vehicle report for used electric cars.

How long do electric car batteries last?

Recurrent recently conducted a study into the battery life of electric cars, and concluded that it is difficult to determine exactly how long they will last because these vehicles have not been in the market long enough to gather a significant amount of data.

They studied 15,000 cars to observe how much apparent degradation was taking place in the power source. Even a relatively large study can give limited information on degradation over time, since almost 30% of electric cars currently on the road were purchased only last year.

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Despite these limitations, the study’s findings are helpful for those who are concerned with the issue of battery life. Of the cars they studied, batteries of only 1.5% have been replaced. The replacements also took place while the car was still under warranty. The federal minimum warranty is eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Carmakers have claimed that electric vehicle batteries should last up to 20 years. Since only a small percent of the cars in the study had their power units replaced, the rest of the sample seems to be on track for living up to what the automobile companies are saying.

How much do electric car battery replacements cost?

At the moment, EV battery replacements range in cost from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the pack, its size, and which company made the car. If your battery is still under warranty, then getting a replacement would come at no cost to you. The question is, what if your warranty runs out?

So far, replacements have been rare and the probability of the battery failing is still low. In a few years there will be more data to determine just when the power packs are likely to run out. However, time is on your side, as the prices of EV batteries have been going down due to developments in technology. By the time it’s time to replace yours, the price tag may no longer be so steep. The cost of a pack declined 16% between 2007 and 2019, and this downward trend is likely to continue.


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