EV Batteries Have Longer Lifespan than Drivers Think

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Range anxiety continues to hinder a more significant success of electric vehicles, making potential EV buyers wonder if a car’s battery has enough storage capacity to meet their daily travel needs. But on top of that, there is another reason why consumers are not that keen to buy electric vehicles: they are not sure that an EV battery’s lifespan is long enough and that they will have to replace it long before the car’s lifespan ends, which would be a major financial burden for them.

But now, it seems that the common opinion among EV experts – that EV batteries are no longer useful after they have lost 20% of their storage capacity – is not correct, and an electric car’s original range capabilities are actually kept for much longer than previously thought.

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have conducted a study to determine the exact lifespan of EV batteries and how long they can be of use to EV owners. The study, named “Quantifying EV battery end-of-life through analysis of travel needs with vehicle powertrain models”, was conducted by Samveg Saxena, a researcher at Berkeley Lab, along with a group of researchers at the UC Berkeley, and was recently published in the “Journal of Power Sources”.

“There are two main reasons people are hesitant to buy an EV: first, they’re unsure it will satisfy their mobility needs. And second, they’re afraid the battery won’t last the whole life of the car and they’ll have to replace it for a lot of money,” said  Samveg Saxena.

Samveg Saxena analyzed 160,000 driving records provided by the Department of Transportation, and found that EV batteries can still allow 85% of all drivers in the U.S. to complete their daily commute after losing 20% of their energy capacity. Furthermore, researchers determined that when a battery loses 30% of its energy capacity, it can meet performance needs of 50% of U.S. drivers, and at 50% capacity, it can meet daily travel needs of 80% of drivers.

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The researchers put the data in a vehicle-to-grid simulator, to see how much a battery’s energy storage capabilities fade over time, and how it affects an electric car’s performances, including acceleration and maximum charging during regenerative braking.

These findings can have a very positive impact on the public perception of EVs, since concerns over EV battery lifespan are a serious obstacle for a faster EV adoption.

“Redefining the threshold in remaining energy and power capacity for battery retirement has the potential to redefine the economics of EVs as batteries may last longer in their first life (in vehicles), and therefore enter their second life with much lower levels of remaining energy and power capacity than has been assumed in prior analyses”, said Saxena.

This study can help make range anxiety a thing of the past and convince consumers that electric vehicles are truly a viable and convenient alternative to conventional cars.