The need to replace batteries, and the costs involved, is the central problem that rechargeable batteries were designed to tackle. And for this reason, there is a vital cost analysis involved when it comes to investing in rechargeable batteries – do they work out cheaper in the long run?
Luckily, for nearly every rechargeable battery that exists today, the answer to that question is “yes”. This is what accounts for the ever-increasing popularity of rechargeable batteries, which are not far from making single-use batteries obsolete. From the small rechargeable USB C-type 9v and AA rechargeable batteries by tech company Pale Blue Earth that are used about the home right up to the huge lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles, rechargeables always have the edge.
That said though, we have not yet invented a battery that can last forever. All rechargeable batteries have a life cycle, which refers to how many complete depletions and recharges (charge cycles) a battery can go through before needing to be replaced. Pale Blue Earth note that cycle life is ever-increasing, and at a rapid rate, but we’re still not at the point of infinite charge cycles yet.
This raises an important question for electric vehicles. How long does it take before an EV battery requires replacement? And given that such batteries are certainly not cheap, the question becomes: “When it dies, should I get a new battery – or a new car?”
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EV Battery Longevity
The good news is that EV batteries are being developed all the time – and are making rapid progress. The EV batteries of today are significantly better than those of only five years ago, something that has been reflected in the fact that hybrid cars (remember them?) are now becoming obsolete too.
EV lithium-ion batteries have got to the point where they can last between 10 and 20 years. And they are set to improve further, certainly if the roads are going to be full of them by sometime around the mid-2030s, which is when most of the major car manufacturers have pledged to cease production of gas-powered vehicles.
If you have ever owned more than one car in your life, you’ll be aware that 10 years is about as long a car is typically kept. Most people trade them in long before two decades have elapsed.
Will the same be the case with EVs? This seems because there’s another factor at play too. Cars have always been in a state of constant development. With EVs, this phenomenon is amplified to the nth degree – and that development always involves EV batteries. In a matter of three or four years, there’s usually massively improved EV batteries available. Certainly, by the time any EV battery runs out, we can expect them to be totally obsolete anyway.
EV Battery Replacement
This raises an important concern. If EV batteries are advancing at such a rate, wouldn’t you want to replace them once the one you have has been made obsolete? Well, if you have the money then you might, but this is hardly necessary.
Yes, an EV battery replacement after a timescale of some 3-5 years will make for a serious upgrade, but the bar has been raised now to the point where even the oldest EVs on the road are a more than a match for the traditional gas-powered vehicle.
Far better then to simply keep your EV for as long as you want to – and to get a new one when you want to. You will never really have to replace your EV battery, for no more complicated a reason than they last for an exceptionally long time.