One of my biggest fears initially about buying an all-electric vehicle (EV) had to do with the battery. What would I do if it went dead eventually? Would it be worth it to pay thousands for a new battery for a car that cost a bit over ten grand? Thankfully, I’ve had the car a little over two years now and have not noticed any change in battery performance. Still, the thought remains in the back of my mind. How long my battery will last is a mystery but it turns out there are a few tricks to making it last as long as possible.

All batteries will eventually die

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) notes on its website that like conventional car batteries, EV batteries will eventually wear out. While there is no across the board standard or time frame for this, most manufacturers do offer a 100,000 mile warranty on their batteries. This is comforting because the current replacement battery for a Nissan Leaf runs just north of $5,000. Data gathered from Tesla Model S owners show that their batteries are on average maintaining 90% effectiveness after 160,000 miles. Let’s face it, if you drive over 160,000 miles in an EV you will save a ton in fuel costs and offset any costs of a new battery. Additionally, if you replace the battery the car will be good to go for another 160,000 miles!

 Why do EV batteries lose their charge?

As we’ve noted previously, almost all batteries in EVs are the lithium-ion type. There are two modes for these batteries: charge (when the car is plugged into a power source), and discharge (when the car is moving). This cycle of going from mode to mode is what causes the eventual degradation in litium-ion batteries. This process can be exacerbated by persistent quick acceleration and/or hard braking (not that I would ever dream of doing either).

How to maximize battery life

As crazy as it sounds, the best possible thing you can do to preserve the battery is to not charge it fully. When a battery is charged, heat is generated and over time this heat can gradually damage it. Some of the fancier EVs on the market today will allow the owner to set the car’s computer to stop charging when a certain percentage is reached. This is bad news for those of us who have made a habit of leaving our cars plugged in overnight. Similarly, allowing the car’s battery to operate at low capacity can also lead to battery degradation. This is because lithium-ion batteries perform best when they are between 50% and 80% capacity. The lower the battery’s capacity, the more stress there is on the battery.

Another way EV owners can maximize the life of their car’s battery is to avoid storing vehicles in high temperatures. One study conducted found that an EV battery stored in a warm garage could lead to as much as 40% battery degradation in just one year! It is highly recommended that EVs be stored in a garage or in the shade if you live in a climate where you experience hot weather.

Have any of our readers experienced this phenomenon? Has this fear kept you from buying an EV? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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