The battery in an electric vehicle is like any other battery: over time, its capacity begins to diminish. We explain:
- How an electric car battery works
- What you can do to prolong your battery life
How long does the battery last on an electric car?
Leasing an electric car is great for the environment, and will significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on fuel. The alternative fuel source means you can charge from anywhere, and can also mean lower maintenance costs thanks to fewer moving parts in the power train. But will the battery on your electric car last long enough to make it worth switching?
The short answer is “yes”. Your electric vehicle comes with a warranty that covers battery life. The Nissan Leaf, for example, has a warranty that covers the battery for five years or 60,000 miles—while the Tesla model S has an unlimited-mile warranty that’s good for eight years.
How does an electric-vehicle battery lose charge?
Most electric vehicles are powered via lithium-ion batteries, which are identical to the ones in your mobile phone or laptop. They’re just much, much bigger.
Just as with a mobile phone, the Li-ion battery in your car slowly loses some capacity as it goes through cycles of charging and discharge. The battery discharges when you drive, and charges when you plug it in.
As capacity diminishes over time, your car will need to be recharged more frequently and will not travel as far between charges. However, good battery management will prolong battery life.
Don’t fully charge your electric car
When you charge an electric car (or any battery), you generate heat. Heat damages batteries, so fully charging your car will diminish the battery’s useful life. Overcharging may also change the chemical composition of the battery’s storage medium, which will also adversely affect the way it holds a charge.
Manufacturers recommend a max charge of 80 %. Some electric cars actually stop charging before they reach capacity, while others—like the Tesla Model S—let you determine the stopping percentage so you can keep the battery healthy. In all cases, charging the final 20 % to get a 100 % charge will take a lot longer than just charging to 80 %.
Don’t fully discharge your electric car
Fully draining a battery has similar negative effects. The What Car? website recommends keeping your battery operating at between 50 % and 80 % of capacity. This is easily achievable in most daily driving situations. Of course, on longer journeys you may have to be happy to run the battery down further before you fill up at a service station.
Watch the weather
Electric-car batteries perform less well in cold temperatures. It’s worth keeping an extra eye on charge levels when the temperature drops, as you’ll need to charge more frequently.