The good news is that the answer to that common question is: longer than the lease of your new electric car.
It is correct to say that over their long and punishing lives, the performance of an electric car’s battery pack will slowly degrade - much like a mobile phone.
But that degradation is barely noticeable over the kind of periods that our cars are leased for, which means that battery life really shouldn’t be a concern.
Nearly every electric car on sale today uses lithium-ion batteries – much like you’d find in your phone or rechargeable vacuum cleaner. It just has a lot more of them.
And like a phone, a car battery can be expected to lose some of its ability to hold maximum charge over the course of its life. The main reason for that is what is known as the charging cycle.
Look After Your Battery To Look After Your Range
Too much rapid charging (we’re talking 50kW chargers like you’ll find along the motorway) or too much draining of the battery right down to 0% is not a good thing for lithium ions…
They tend to suffer if things get too hot during a charge and their chemistry can be affected, too, if you empty them right down and try to charge them back up to full again.
That’s why car makers advise that it’s best to keep a battery somewhere between about 20% and 80% to give it the longest life expectancy you can. That doesn’t mean you can never charge it to full or make journeys when you are near to 0% charge, but the fewer times you can do it over its lifespan the better it will perform.
Car makers have also designed battery packs so that they protect themselves to ensure they provide their best performance for the longest possible time. To keep the battery cool and comfortable, charging will automatically slow down once you’ve gone beyond 80% charge on a rapid charger - it’s designed to give you the longest range for the longest time.
It’s worth nothing too that slower AC charging - like you’d do at home - doesn’t create as much heat, so filling up to full isn’t so punishing for the batteries in that context.
That all might sound strange compared to how you’d run a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle but as we always say, there’s a different mindset when it comes to driving electric. If you had a petrol pump at home you’d always be able to keep away from empty.
And while that’s impossible, with an electric car and an easily fitted home charger it really is like having your own fuel pump at home.
And even when the unavoidable happens and you end up running into the red, don’t fret because modern Battery Management Systems (BMS) in electric cars have a whole host of tricks designed to ease your stress and look after your precious cells.
First of all, most EV batteries function with a built-in safety reserve that means that even when the car indicates to you that there is 0% charge left, in reality, there is still some power left behind.
Owners who have run their batteries all the way down to empty have reported that their car still allowed them to run for a few miles to get to the nearest charging point. As we said, it’s not recommended but it’s reassuring to know that you’ve got a little something in reserve.
5 Tips For Looking After Your Batteries:
- Alternate between rapid and slow charging
- Try to keep charge between 20-80%
- Drive regularly - don’t leave your car idle for days on end
- Only charge to 100% when really necessary
- If possible, park in a garage - as it’s warmer
The Battery Management System also plays a critical role in keeping your battery in good health when you’ve got it plugged in on charge.
Opting to use rapid chargers regularly can impact on the health of your EV. Rapid chargers are, quite literally, forcing lots of current into your batteries at a faster rate than a standard home charger.
That creates a lot of heat in a short time – a by-product of the charging process that you’ll recognise if you’ve ever picked up a plugged-in mobile phone.
If the car can’t draw that heat away from its batteries – something that liquid cooling does very efficiently – then you run the risk of degrading the cells over time.
That’s where the BMS comes to the rescue. Automatic cooling systems kick in if the batteries are getting too warm. This not only helps to preserve the longevity of the internal battery chemistry but also helps charging to take place more quickly.
Many cars – Tesla, Jaguar and Audi to name a just few – now use advanced liquid cooling systems that can pump heat away from the battery pack. That’s something to enquire about if you think you might be reliant on using the country’s ever-growing network of rapid charger.
You can, though, play your own part in helping to keep your EV battery cool. If it’s possible try and park in a shady spot on a hot day and use your garage, if you have one, during extremes of temperature so that the batteries don’t get baked or frozen.
And Remember, Leasing Takes The Stress Out Of Battery Life Worries…
It’s important to note that any new electric car leased through Vanarama will come with a manufacturer’s warranty that is designed to protect you against the worry of things like battery degradation.
Nearly all the cars leased by Vanarama have at least a 7-year and 100,000 mile warranty for the battery and electrical systems. That’s way beyond the length of our car leases. You’ll almost definitely be handing back the car long before the battery warranty comes to a close.
And even if your car’s battery does begin to experience the very gradual charge loss that all cars experience over their lives, the likelihood is that won’t be noticeable before your lease comes to an end when you can upgrade to a car with even newer technology in the future.