How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Electric Car Battery?
Like with a traditional vehicle, an electric vehicle (EV) battery won’t last forever. As a current owner or someone looking to buy an electric car, it’s only natural to wonder what the replacement cost is. We at #1 Cochran Chevrolet are here to provide transparency through our comprehensive guide to EV battery cost. In addition to talking numbers, we’ll discuss whether your battery is covered under warranty, and why it costs what it does.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Electric Car Battery?
Consumer Reports says that the cost to replace an electric car battery can be anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000. The range is due to unique battery sizes across different models and the varying rates charged by manufacturers for the number of kilowatts per hour. For instance, a manufacturer might sell its batteries for $240/kWh. If your car requires a 66 kWh battery, it would cost $15,840 for a new one. Someone with a different make and model might pay $150/kWh for a 40 kWh battery, meaning they would only spend $6,000 for a replacement.
How Do Electric Car Batteries Work?
You can better understand why electric car batteries cost what they do by learning about how they work and what they’re made of. An electric vehicle uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is similar to the battery in a phone or laptop, only it’s much larger. The battery can have one or more electrochemical cells, and each electrochemical cell consists of a negative electrode and a positive electrode. The abundance of electrons in the negative electrode, also called the cathode, flows to the positive electrode to create electricity.
The electric vehicle harnesses this energy from the battery to generate near-instant torque – or pulling power – allowing the car to quickly accelerate. As you drive an electric vehicle, the battery may conserve energy by charging while braking, and turning off when the car is at a stop. The reason you need to recharge a car battery is so it returns the electrons to the cathode, enabling the flow of electricity to resume.
To many people, the complex process of harnessing electricity and the fact that an electric vehicle battery is rechargeable may be enough to justify the price tag. However, it’s also important to consider the cost of battery components that manufacturers have to pass on to consumers. While a car battery consists of various components, the most expensive is usually the cathode. Manufacturers create cathodes out of materials like cobalt, nickel, manganese, and lithium to ensure they produce as much energy as possible. These materials lead to expensive final products as they’re costly to mine and process into high-purity chemical compounds.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair an Electric Car Battery?
When you consider that a new electric car battery is similar to the cost of a new engine or transmission, you might wonder if it would be cheaper to repair than replace. In some cases, the battery might improve its ability to hold a charge through service or replacement of an individual cell. These repairs may only cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s important to consult with a reputable auto shop or dealership to understand the best route. If several hundreds of thousands of miles resulted in degradation, it’s probably a wise investment to replace the battery altogether.
How Long Does an Electric Car Battery Last?
The average lifespan for an electric car battery is anywhere from 10 to 13 years, which is more than double the three- to five-year lifespan of a traditional car battery. The longer lifespan is likely because electric cars have simpler mechanisms, with fewer moving parts and a single-speed transmission. So even though these vehicles have more expensive batteries, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to shell out thousands of dollars for a replacement anytime soon.
Are There Warranties for Electric Car Batteries?
If you’re worried about your electric car’s battery going dead prematurely, you’ll be glad to hear that the federal government requires all manufacturers to provide a warranty. The minimum requirement is for manufacturers to cover electric vehicle batteries for at least eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some parties offer even more protection; for instance, California requires all electric batteries to have a warranty of at least 10 years or 150,000 miles, and some car manufacturers have implemented this same warranty requirement in all 50 states.
While your warranty offers peace of mind, it’s important that you understand its terms. Be sure to read the fine print to discover any exclusions that may apply. For instance, some manufacturers only cover the battery if it loses its ability to hold any charge. This scenario is relatively rare, meaning the warranty won’t offer you much protection. Other manufacturers, including Chevrolet, will replace the battery if its charging capacity drops below a certain percentage (usually between 60% and 70%).
How Can You Preserve Your Electric Car Battery?
Here are some tips for preserving your electric car battery that can help you avoid an expensive replacement:
- Keep the battery’s charge between 60% and 80%. You put a lot of strain on your battery if you let the charge drain to nearly zero before recharging it back to 100%. You can preserve its performance by keeping it between 60% and 80% as much as possible.
- Minimize the use of fast charging. Level 3 charging, or Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC), charges your car much faster than Level 1 or 2 charging, but at the cost of the battery’s lifespan. Reduce this impact by limiting your use of DCFC.
- Protect your vehicle from extreme temperatures. Repeated exposure to extreme temperatures can facilitate degradation, so try to protect your vehicle as much as possible. For instance, you might park it in a garage during our frigid Boardman winters, and park it in a shady spot on hot summer days.
We hope you’ve found this guide on EV battery cost insightful. If you need advice on whether to repair or replace your battery, or if you want to schedule service, know that the #1 Cochran team is here to help. We’re also willing to match you with vehicles like the Bolt so that you can see what all the electric-car craze is about.