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/ 2021

An AVL Guide to Electric Car Batteries

Electric cars have gone from something you’d find in a work of science fiction, to a thing of the future, to fairly common on UK roads and the rest of the world. Brands are becoming more conscious about the environment in general and vehicle manufacturers in particular are in a race against time to help save the planet, or rather, limit their negative effects on it.

They’re doing this by creating more electric and hybrid vehicles and thus reducing the amount of petrol and diesel cars on the road. And it’s happening on a scale like we’ve never seen before. 

With everything from electric and plug-in hybrid city cars to electric and hybrid saloons, even electric vans all available for buying in the UK and beyond, the emphasis for all vehicle manufacturers now seems to be a race to becoming completely electric. But what about batteries?

Electric Car Batteries 

There’s lots said about the different kinds of electric vehicle you can purchase, whether it’s a Tesla or Nissan, BMW or Audi, or anything else for that matter, but today we’re here to guide you through everything you need to know about electric car batteries. 

In this guide, we’ll look at how much an EV battery costs to replace, the different size of EV battery you can buy, how long electric car batteries last in their lifetime, and how long an electric car battery lasts before needing a recharge. Let’s start with the costs.

How Much Does an Electric Car Battery Cost?

In today’s market, an EV battery replacement will cost anywhere between £3,500 and £6,500. By 2030, experts have estimated a cost of around £73/kWh, which puts electric battery costs being as low as £1,000. This ties in to the government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 70% in 2030.

The cost of electric batteries is going in the right direction and times are changing for the better if you’re looking at affordability, because the overall cost fell by about 80% between 2010 and 2016 from around £750 to £164 per kWh. This means that a 40kWh battery cost was just shy of £10,000 in 2016 and is even less today.

If you’re hungry for more information on car batteries and costs, you can find out about the Cost To Charge Electric Cars, which we’ve covered in another guide on our website.

Is an Electric Car Battery Worth the Cost?

The cost of an EV battery is higher than an engine you’ll find in a diesel or petrol-powered car of a similar size. However, the running costs are pretty much halved in comparison, making them more affordable and better value for money in the long run. The fact that you get more range from an electric battery and will need to replace it less, not to mention not having to pay road tax, are a couple of examples of the many benefits of running an electric vehicle if you’re looking to save some cash.

There’s also the fact that an electric motor will need nowhere near as much maintenance as a diesel or petrol car engine. This is because there are no filter changes, spark plug changes, timing belt replacements, or oil changes required on something that relies solely on electricity. Never mind the lessened load on brake pads meaning less brake disc changes and issues in that aspect of your car. 

All of these reasons and more make electric cars a wise option if you’re looking for something affordable to run whilst looking out for the future of the planet.

Battery Sizes Across Different Car Models

All electric cars are different, and the same goes for the battery under the bonnet. As you might expect, EV batteries are pretty heavy and large in physical size given the amount of weight they need to propel. You also probably won’t be surprised to hear that the larger the car, generally speaking, the larger the battery. 

However, a deeper dive into this tells us that the lightest electric batteries are not only common in smaller cars, like city cars, but they’re also found in some of the more high-end, larger electric vehicles. This is more prominent when it comes to those manufacturers who paved the way when it comes to EVs because they, generally speaking, have more experience and the best technology to work with. Cough, Tesla, cough.

So, let’s jump in with physical weight of electric cars before exploring their capacity for speed and power. 

With lighter vehicles, the battery pack is generally around 2240kg in weight, and for that you can get 100 kWh worth of power. This is the most efficient size/power balance you’ll find, with lots of others coming in between 1500kg and 2500kg and pumping out between 50 kWh and 80 kWh, with a few outliers coming somewhere in-between each end of the scale.

The heaviest you’re likely to find will be around 2,900kg, which is a heavy bit of kit indeed. However, this is a rare example and not something you’ll find in a city car or even in the vast majority of family cars, not even in most SUVs, to be honest. 

How Powerful Are Electric Batteries Based on Size?

The way you measure the power of an electric battery is in Kilowatt hours, otherwise known as kWh. This tells us the energy storage over a specific amount of time and is the best way of measuring the power and size of an electric car’s battery. Let’s start with some of the larger vehicles and see how big the batteries are. 

Most Teslas, as well as many other electric saloons, are for driving long distances and lengthy journeys. These brands aren’t city cars with nimbleness and smallness in mind, so they have larger chassis and therefore, more powerful batteries. The size of an electric vehicle battery of this larger size is generally around 100 kWh, with some of the more advanced electric cars with better tech, as we mentioned earlier, coming in at a smaller 80.5 kWh.

For a smaller, plug-in hybrid car, you’re looking at a smaller battery for the most part, with one of the larger plug-in hybrids designed for the city coming in at around 60 kWh. Smaller city cars vary in size of battery based on their technology as a manufacturer, and generally range from 35 kWh to 40 kWh. 

There are lots of different things to consider when looking at the power and technology of an electric battery, but it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that as a general rule, the larger the vehicle, the heavier the battery and more power it can produce, although this isn’t always the case.

How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last? – A Heated Debate

EV battery lifespan is one of those debates that has drivers and car enthusiasts passionately divided. Well, to be honest, petrol or diesel car drivers tend to use battery power as a reason not to purchase an electric vehicle, claiming that the low lifespan isn’t worth the cost.

But the tide is turning, and while at the start of the EV race battery power for plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars was pretty pitiful, manufacturers have worked hard to increase the lifespan of batteries and battery packs on their cars and vans. In fact, pretty much every brand has improved their tech massively over recent years.

While it’s still up for debate and very much dependant on the preference of the driver in question, EV batteries now last a lot longer than they did when they were originally introduced, and the technology looks set to improve alongside the capacity of lithium ion batteries used in EVs. 

This goes for range as well as overall electric car battery lifespan, but let’s get into the numbers to guide you on just how long your car battery life will last and when you’ll need to start thinking about replacements.

How Many Years Will Electric Car Batteries Last? – The Facts

It differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and brand to brand, but the average lifespan of an electric car battery in 2021 is around 10 years. However, some of the more advanced brands not only produce more capacity and battery life with their EV offerings, but have batteries that last longer overall. With these brands, you can expect your brand new car battery to last up to 20 years before needing a replacement.

EV manufacturers also offer a warranty on their batteries, so you have that additional peace of mind around making a purchase should anything go wrong. And as we’ve already covered earlier in this guide, this is much less likely to happen as opposed to diesel and petrol powered vehicles on the market, because reliability in general is increased with EVs and their batteries.  

How Long Does An Electric Car Battery Last Before Recharging?

Here we have another hot topic when it comes to electric car batteries – the amount of time it takes before it needs recharging. Charge time in general ranges wildly from vehicle to vehicle, and when electric cars were first introduced just after 2010, the average range was around 100 miles of driving before a recharge was needed. 

This has improved enormously over the years, and current (get it) electric cars and vans have a much longer range which means less time between charges. 

You can expect to travel around 250 miles on a full charge in most EVs in today’s market, which is a whole lot of electric power. This, of course, depends on the lifestyle you lead and how you drive, and if you push your vehicle to its limits the range will be decreased. For the most part though, normal, everyday drivers can expect a range of 250 miles.

But there are some exceptions…

Does Car Battery Range Depend on The Brand?

In short, Yes. The electric vehicle battery range can vary massively depending on the brand you choose when it comes to an EV purchase. 

For example, the 2020 Tesla Model S Long Range Plus offers a whopping 412 miles for a full charge, increasing the range by 20% on the previous year. The design is similar in terms of the car itself, but the range is vastly improved, which is credit to market leaders Tesla and the way they do things.

EV rival Ford isn’t far behind, however, and the Mustang Mach-E offers a massively impressive 379 miles of range, alongside DC fast charging and controlled boosts up to 150 kW for more advanced vehicles. City cars and smaller offerings from the likes of Fiat will offer around 199 miles for the Fiat 500e, and the Volkswagen e-Up has a range of around 161.

We’ve explored this in more detail in another guide “How Long Does It Take to Charge Electric Cars” which you can read online today.

How Are Electric Car Batteries Produced?

Lithium ion batteries are the most popular electric car batteries, and they’re made up of lithium salt, metal oxide, and graphite (or carbon). In short and hopefully avoiding too much tech jargon – these elements combine to form positive and negative electrodes and once you introduce an electrolyte into the equation, an electric current is created which powers the car. 

Lithium ion is the same kind of battery used for mobile phones and household appliances but, obviously, on much a larger scale and with higher energy density and capacity. Which is pretty obvious when you think about the fact a car needs substantially more juice than a kettle!

While there’s quite a bit of jargon in that description, it’s probably the shortest explanation you’re going to find when it comes to how batteries are produced, because as you can imagine, it can get quite technical.

Are Electric Car Batteries Bad For the Environment?

Most EV batteries are manufactured in Asia – Japan, South Korea, and of course, China. To produce so many batteries requires a lot of electricity, and electricity production in these places is massive compared to the rest of the world, which leads to higher emissions as a result. 

So, while battery production is on the increase and running electric cars is better for the environment than petrol or diesel fuelled cars, the manufacturing of the batteries does have a negative effect and is a concern to buyers.

However, nations are working hard to switch the electrical energy required to manufacture car batteries, replacing it with renewable energy in the near future – as close as 2025.

Browse Electric Cars Today with AVL

If you need advice about the life cycle of your electric car, or want to browse for a lease on a specific model or brand of EV, you’re in the right place. 

Contact our sales team on 01642 793 444 to find out more about the models we have available to lease online, or you can browse our website to find yourself the perfect EV today.

We have all kinds of vehicles available for you to lease online, from vans to cars and everything in between, with a range of contract options to suit your budget and match your requirements. We also have regularly updated special offers which you can take advantage of online today.