Modern electric vehicles (EVs) will last quite a while on their stock battery pack, but eventually they’ll degrade and need to be replaced. The prospect of a replacement might make you hesitant about buying an EV, so what will a replacement actually run you, and how can you avoid needing one?
RELATED: How Much Does an Electric Car Really Cost?
What It Costs to Replace an EV Battery
Electric car battery replacement costs vary. If the battery is still under warranty, you could get it replaced for free. If not, the average cost as of 2020 was around $137 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of battery capacity, according to a Bloomberg report.
So a vehicle like the Chevy Bolt, which has a 65 kWh battery pack, would cost around $8905 for a new one at the average price. The price also depends on a number of other factors, including:
- What vehicle you’re driving
- What the battery that EV uses is made of (if it has more expensive metals, the cost is higher)
- How large the battery pack is
- Whether the battery is under warranty
Some EV batteries cost as little as $2,500 to replace, while others can be upwards of $20,000, according to an analysis by Recurrent Auto. Even at the low end, that’s still about as much as replacing a gasoline vehicle’s transmission. The good news is, we’ll probably see those costs decline in the next few years.
Electric car batteries are already cheaper to replace than they were when EVs first got popular. According to the Bloomberg report, the average cost of a new EV battery pack in 2010 was over $1,000/kwh. With advances in battery technology, we could see prices around $100/kWh by 2023, with further decreases as technology improves.
Average EV battery pack costs sometimes beat projections. In 2017, for example, McKinsey released a report projecting the average price of an EV’s battery would be around $190/kWh by the end of 2020. The actual cost ended up being around $53/kWh lower at $137/kWh.
Keep in mind that, rather than catastrophically failing, it’s much more common for an electric car’s battery to slowly lose capacity over time until it can’t power the vehicle. Most EVs manufactured in recent years are still on the road, if at somewhat decreased charge capacity, so not enough of them have needed battery replacements to gather a lot of data on replacement cost.
As newer batteries get built with cheaper metals, no liquid components, and faster charge times, the cost to replace one could significantly change. Owners of older electric cars, though, will probably need to get the battery replaced at some point if they keep them for several years more.
How to Keep an EV’s Battery in Peak Condition
To avoid having to replace your electric car’s battery too soon, it’s a good idea to follow some simple guidelines for keeping it in peak operating condition. Fast charging, for example, should be limited except in emergencies or where it can’t be avoided. It’s especially important to avoid fast charging in very cold weather since the process will use up some of the lithium metal inside the battery and decrease overall charge capacity.
Keep the battery charge between 20-80%. Letting it dip below that number or constantly keeping the battery at 100% can reduce its charge capacity and shorten its life. Instead, try shorter top-off charges or slower charging at home or work, if possible.
In cold weather, pre-heat the battery before charging. In the hot months, take measures like parking in the shade to reduce battery heat. It’s also a good idea to pre-heat or cool the interior of the car while it’s still plugged into a charging station to avoid sapping battery power to use those systems.
Driving at high speeds and accelerating very quickly will drain a charge faster, so keep that in mind. Battery maintenance varies by manufacturer, so check the car’s user manual for specific tips and guidelines.
Pricey, But Getting Cheaper
Like most costs associated with electric vehicles, the cost of battery replacement started high. It remains expensive today, but we should see a decrease in that cost over the next few years. If that happens, it would mean a reduction in one of the most significant costs of EV ownership.
To learn more about what it costs to own an electric car, check out our explainer on how far an EV charge will get you.
RELATED: How Does an EV Battery's Charge Compare to a Tank of Gas?
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