How Long Do Electric Cars Last? (Explained)

One of the most common questions that prospective electric car owners have is regarding the lifespan of an electric vehicle and whether it will last as long as a conventional vehicle.

How long do electric cars last? With proper usage and maintenance, electric vehicles can easily last 15 to 20 years. This lifespan can be further extended by replacing an old battery or motor.

The lifespan of electric cars depends on two main parts The battery and the motor. 

Electric car motor life expectancy

The motor in an electric car is synonymous with the engine in a gasoline-driven car. Unlike the highly complicated design of an engine with hundreds of moving parts, an electric car motor is relatively simple and contains fewer moving parts.

Due to its simplicity, it can deliver better performance and requires little maintenance. 

There are multiple types of motors available for the electric vehicle like

  • AC Induction motor
  • Reluctance motor
  • DC motor

However, the most commonly used is the AC induction motor due to its several benefits over its counterparts.

The life expectancy of a motor depends on several factors, which we will discuss in detail, but you usually can expect the motor to work efficiently for 15 to 20 years.

Factors affecting the life expectancy of electric motors

1. Torque 

    Torque is the force required for rotation. Electric motors are pretty good at generating good torque, giving them their infamous agility and ability to reach high speeds quickly. However, if you want your electric motor to last longer, you need to ensure that your motor runs at desired torque levels without too much-undesired fluctuation. Optimal torque also ensures the lower maintenance costs

2. Power Quality 

    The character of power received by the motor also impacts its lifespan. Anomalies like harmonics, imbalance, and transients can create several issues and critically damage your motor. If there is an unbalance in either current or voltage, it can result in burned winding an overheated motor.

Harmonics create voltage and current distortions that can result in motor failure.

3. Vibration 

    Vibration acts like a slow poison and gradually damages the motor. Long-term exposure to excessive vibrations can lead to permanent motor failure. 

The vibrations are generally caused when the motor is placed on an uneven surface or improperly seated. Most of these are a result of manufacturing errors. 

Corrosion can also be a culprit when we are talking about vibrations 

4. Overheating

    Overheating is one of the most common reasons for motor failure. We have already discussed multiple causes of overheating, like insulting loss and undesired power quality. It is essential to keep the motor cool to get the maximum number of years out of it

5. Contamination

    Sometimes foreign particles like dust can enter the motor and inhibit its normal functioning. These particles can enter the ball bearings and raceways and cause vibrations and excessive wear. These particles can even enter the cooling fan and hamper the typical cooling system resulting in higher operational temperatures 

6. Low Resistance

    Low resistance is another primary reason for motor failure. It happens when insulations and windings are degraded due to physical damage, poor environment, or, I’m sure you guessed it, Overheating!

Low resistance can cause short circuits, leakages, and motor failure

7. Electric Overload

    Electric overload occurs when more power is supplied to the motor than needed. It can happen when there’s a low supply of voltage; in this situation, the motor extracts excessive current to compensate for the torque requirements. Electric overload can also happen due to excessive voltage supply and short circuits.

Electric car battery lifespan

Let’s start the discussion on EV batteries with one of the most common myths out there, that the battery of an electric car can only last 65,000 miles. That’s certainly not true in the sense that most people think about battery life. 

Some Fundamentals about Electric Car Battery

  • Electric cars do not have lead-acid batteries like conventional vehicles. Instead, they have lithium-ion batteries like our cell phones and cameras.
  • These batteries can hold more charge than conventional batteries due to their higher energy density. 
  • Lithium-ion batteries can hold a charge for a longer time, even when they are not in use.
  • The construction of these batteries is also different. Rather than one large unit, these consist of several smaller units in conjunction.
  • The capacity of these batteries is presented in KWh. The more this number is, the more charge your battery can hold
  • Charging these batteries to 100% or discharging them to 0% is detrimental to their life and health. Luckily most manufacturers place limits on the vehicles and prohibit you from reaching these extreme limits.

Battery Life

Almost all electric cars sold today come with a battery that will work nicely for 100,000 miles or eight years. Kia offers a warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles, and Hyundai gives a lifetime warranty.

This looks and sounds great, but you should go through the terms and conditions as well. Some brands offer warranty services only when the battery dies completely, which, as you might have guessed, doesn’t happen often.

Tesla, BMW, Chevrolet, Volkswagens, and Nissan cover batteries if its capacity drops below a certain level (Normally 60 to 70%).

It is important to note that battery capacity does not suddenly drop to zero. It gradually declines after years of use, and even after the warranty period, it’s likely to retain charging power that would be sufficient for daily use.

Heating And Battery Health

Lithium-Ion battery does not like heating! That’s the reason why the batteries deplete faster in hotter climates.

The people who regularly use type 3 charging should also be aware that this charging method also heats the battery and affects their health.

The optimal temperature for these batteries is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the colder temperatures negatively affect the battery performance; however, a cold environment does not affect their lifespan. Hot temperatures, on the other hand, negatively impacts all aspects of battery performance.

Fortunately, all-electric vehicles come with a thermal management system that ensures the optimal temperature of the battery. 

Electric car batteries are well-engineered pieces of technology, but eventually, they will degrade, but most sources point that it’s scarce that these batteries drop below desired performance levels suddenly.

Electric car battery price

So when you are considering the battery replacement cost into your calculations, you should think about the replacement costs 8 to 10 years from now. 

Currently, the average cost per kWh is between $227 to $1000. However, it is predicted that with advancement in technology and mass production, this cost is expected to drop to $100/kWh of storage by 2030.

Tips to Increase The Lifespan Of Your Electric Vehicle

Let’s talk about a few ways in which you can increase the life of your electric car by a few more years

1. Watch out for the speed and acceleration 

    Like traditional gasoline or diesel-driven vehicle, aggressive driving is equally damaging for an electric car. 

I know its fun to do the quick acceleration in your electric car and surprising the person sitting next to you; but if you keep doing it again and again, it will put extreme stress on your battery and motor and shorten their life

So, diving in a traditional and relaxed way will not only help you keep your EV for a long time, but it will also help you save money you were going to spend on tickets!

2. Use DC Quick charge (Level 3) Scarcely. 

    I understand that quick charging stations are convenient and hassle-free, especially if you can afford them. Using them scarcely is fine, but you should not make a habit of it.

Based on some rough calculations, if you charge your vehicle normally, you can expect a decline of 20% in battery capacity in 8-10 years compared to 30% if you are using fast charging.

3. Avoid Discharging the battery to 0%

    Discharging the lithium-ion battery completely will put undue stress on the battery and affect its life adversely.

Most manufacturers put a reserve to prevent that. This reserve is not visible and cannot be accessed either. 

4. Steer clear of Charging It To 100% 

    Even though you can get many extra miles out of a fully charged battery, you should only do so when it is absolutely needed. Regular total charges are detrimental for a lithium-ion battery. Just like the systems in place that prohibit a vehicle from going to 0% charge, there are protections in place that prevent it from going near the 100% battery charge.

Moreover, a regenerative braking system works the best when there is some room in the battery to store the generated electricity.

Several electric vehicles allow you to control the maximum charging levels so you can set your preferred percentage.

Most studies conclude that you should keep the battery levels between 20% and 80% for maximum lifespan

5. Stay Away From Extreme Temperatures

    As we discussed above, the battery in an EV doesn’t prefer extreme temperatures. Too hot and too cold are both terrible for it.

While parking, you should always try to park your car in a place that is as close to room temperature possible.

Electric cars generally have a temperature control system that keeps the battery within optimal ranges.

If you do have to leave your car in hot temperatures for a while, its best to keep it plugged in so the air conditioning system can kick in

6. Optimize Charging Time

    One good thing about an electric vehicle is that you can leave it plugged in for the night, and by the morning, you will have all the mileage you need. However, if you keep it plugged in for an unnecessarily long time, it can overheat and affect the battery life.

It would be best to use a timer that can be programmed to stop when the desired charging levels are reached.

If you have a charging system that automatically disconnects, you are one of the lucky ones!

7. Regularly balance cells 

    Lithium-ion batteries do not have a memory effect, which means that the battery life is not affected by the number of times you plug it in. The battery is only affected when it completes an entire charging cycle (Fully charged to fully discharged)

Lithium-ion batteries consist of a large number of cells connected in series. These cells together balance out the voltage. 

The battery management system is responsible for this balancing. However, this balancing can only occur when the battery is fully charged. 

I know we have often discussed in this article that you should not charge your car to 100%, but this is a special case. You only need to do this once in 3-4 months

8. Watch Out For Extended Storage Periods

    Storing any vehicle for long periods is terrible for it, and the same applies to electric cars as well. If you keep your electric vehicle for long periods without operating it, you can damage your battery.

 So if you are storing your vehicle, you should try to keep it plugged in with a charger programmed to maintain charging levels of around 50%.

Also, it would be best to keep it in a cool place devoid of extreme temperatures.

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