Car batteries are an expense that was not given much consideration up until the introduction of EV’s. Now, more than ever, consumers are concerned with the potential costs and inconvenience of replacing batteries that are not only expensive, but come in large quantities. The ultimate question is: how does battery life in electric vehicles compare to the life of a gas powered engine? Would replacing batteries be an expense comparative to, for instance, a transmission? First, let’s examine the potential life span of a battery used in electric vehicles.
In real world use, some fleet Toyota Rav4 EV’s, using nickel hydride batteries, have exceeded 100,000 miles with little degradation in their daily range, pointing to the very strong likelihood of a 130,000 to 150,000-mile Nickel Metal Hydride battery and drive-train operational life. Also, recently the first Tesla Model S exceeded 100,000 miles and is still going strong. Electric vehicles can therefore match or exceed the lifecycle miles of comparable gas engine vehicles.
An electric company, SCE, has been using electric vehicles since 2003 in it’s daily operations such as meter reading, field representation, service planning, mail handling, and security patrols and carpools. It’s obvious to many familiar with these vocations that the wear and tear on a vehicle when performing some of these tasks is much greater than simple highway driving, yet SCE is so impressed with their durability, their plan is to continue using them well after they have all logged 100,000-miles. If you have an issue with your battery early on, remember that most vehicles come with a factory warranty on the battery of around 8 years/100,000 miles. Check with your dealer for the particulars on the model you are considering buying.
The second thing to address is how much does it cost to replace the batteries once they wear out and are out of warranty? Currently, batteries are by no means cheap! A replacement battery on an electric car can cost anywhere from about $1,000 (USD), to a more common figure of around $6,000 (USD). If this is a concern for you, it’s something to consider when purchasing a used EV or Hybrid that’s high in miles.
A positive thing to keep in mind is that due to the rate that battery improvements are being made, at the time batteries finally require replacing there may be better and less expensive battery options available. There are also companies that sell used Prius (and most likely other brands), electric car parts including batteries, which not only supports the environment but also may save you a considerable sum.