The big unknown for electric vehicles is what’s going to happen with battery degradation and battery failure. And if you can check out our website it gives you some suggestions about being able to test the battery on a used electric vehicle to make sure that you’re not buying something that’s at the end of its lifespan. This article from slash gear gives you a good idea of what the expected lifespan is for a battery and what’s going to happen at the end of ownership. And that’s the title of their article What’s going to happen to millions of electric vehicles after their lifespan then we’re not talking about a small number. In the current marketplace, new cars are sold at a rate of about 12 million per year. By 2040 it’s expected that every new car on the road is going to be an electric vehicle. That’s 15 years away, not that far away.  

As 10 million vehicles a year come off the road at some point in the future, where’d all those batteries go and how long do they last? Well, this article has some great insight. Limited lifespan starts to degrade from the first time you charged them. What happens when they reach capacity and how long does that take? Once batteries reach 70 or 80% of their capacity, which happens at either 5-8 years or after a hundred thousand miles of driving, they have to be replaced according to science direct. Let’s stop right there. A hundred thousand miles and you have to replace the battery. Most gasoline vehicles that have been produced in the last 5-10 years last upwards of 200,000 miles. And at that point, you might have to replace the engine or the transmission, which are expensive items. But those could be rebuilt. A gasoline piston engine can be refurbished or rebuilt by replacing the pistons and bearings and rings. And then you basically have a new engine that will start over. 

In an electric vehicle, the battery is really the entire mechanical part of the vehicle. And they’re saying according to the surveys that it’s going to last a hundred thousand miles or 5-8 years of driving and you have to replace the battery. Well, how much does the battery cost? Well, we’ve seen examples where it’s cost 15-20 sometimes $25,000 to replace an electric vehicle battery. That’s half the price of some of these cars. Rebuilding an engine in a gasoline car might cost 5 or $6,000, $7,000 if it’s a very rare vehicle. This is double, or triple that amount. So is the economic advantage of having an electric vehicle exaggerated? If you have to replace a $20,000 battery in five to eight years or a hundred thousand miles? How does that factor into the cost? Even if you don’t replace it, even if you sell the vehicle or trade it in or get rid of it, that’s going to factor into how much it’s worth. If you have a six-year-old vehicle with 90,000 miles and you go to sell it and everybody knows the battery needs replacing in a hundred thousand, how much are you going to get for it? Maybe nothing. Well, electric vehicles are like cell phones. They’re worth really nothing at the end, you just get a new one. That would be okay if they were cheaper, but electric vehicles actually cost more than gasoline vehicles. And they last a shorter period of time in years and in miles. In fact, eight years even if you went eight years a hundred thousand miles that’s 12,000 miles a year. Most people drive almost twice that. Most people drive 20,000 miles a year, sometimes 25,000 miles a year at least 18,000. What are your thoughts on the predicted lifespan of electric vehicle batteries? What are your thoughts on whether is there going to be a market to sell used batteries? Let’s see what happens when the battery is replaced. 

According to the article, recycling car batteries is a dangerous process that involves splitting them apart to extract a metal. Recyclers use two technologies. One is a burning process, but there’s a risk of toxic fumes. There are other issues too, EV batteries weigh a lot. You have to transport them and they are a fire hazard when stored together. There have been more than 240 lithium battery fires in waste facilities. If these batteries find a way to landfill harmful toxins such as lead can contaminate the groundwater So, I don’t know if this has been planned for not, but that’s what happens at the end of the battery lifespan. More importantly, removing a battery from an electric vehicle is different than removing a gasoline engine from an internal combustion vehicle. The reason why is a gasoline engine is a separate object that’s bolted under the hood of the car. You’ve all opened up your car and you see this metal item that’s in there, that’s the engine. A battery inside an electric vehicle is an integral part of the floor. It’s actually built into the floor sandwich between the sheet metal of the cars and that’s something you can’t just unbolt and take out. In some cars, it actually makes up the structure of the vehicle. So the labor cost to remove and replace that battery may be excessive. compared to what it would cost just to get a new vehicle.

What have you seen in your area? If you’re an automotive professional mechanic or a dealer, what are the plans for the end of life of these electric vehicles? How long do you think they’re going to last? Are there vehicle battery testing facilities that can tell you before you buy a used vehicle, is it going to be any good? Look, if you buy a gasoline vehicle, you could have a mechanic inspect your engine, transmission, shocks, and breaks to see what condition they’re in. You can do compression testing on the cylinders. You can do where testing on the motor oil. The testing of a battery’s a little more of a black art. And to date, there may be some ambiguity in knowing how much battery lifestyle lifespan you have left, because a lot of it has to do with more than miles. It has to do with how many times has been charged under what temperature conditions. Was it run to empty in hundred-degree weather? Was it left freezing on a DC high charging port? Those are going to affect your battery lifespan numbers more so than miles on electric vehicles. And if you plug in your vehicle every night and do a slow charge that’s one thing. If you take long trips and fast charge it, every couple of hundred miles that wears out your battery, even more. These are some of the new factors that go into electric vehicle manufacturing and ownership and cost of ownership that may not be completely realized in the vehicle purchase decision-making process.