Pretty high up in the list of reasons some refuseniks commonly cite for not switching to an electric car is, of course, ‘range anxiety’. Most of us who have committed to EV motoring know this is much less of an issue than non-EV users think it is. Next in the mix of EV ‘issues’ is often the life expectancy of the battery which surely will decay and fail long before the cost of the car is amortised, leaving the owner with a huge bill or a worthless car.
So it’s pleasing to report that with EVs having been around for quite a few years now, there are starting to be examples of very long, trouble-free battery life. There’s a legendary very early Tesla S in Germany with getting on for 1,000,000 miles under its belt, although ‘only’ 625,000 has been covered by the current battery, the original having developed a problem and been swapped out at ‘only’ 125,000 miles.
Still on the original battery and running well after almost six years is Shaun Maidment’s BMW i3 60AH which is nudging 200,000 miles. This is all the more noteworthy since the miles have been covered in the unrelenting heat and dust of South Africa, where Shaun runs the Breev charging network. Shaun is a real EV evangelist and still loves his i3, proving that a modest battery size and quite limited range need ben no hindrance to enjoying electric transport. (accompanying picture shows Shaun with his i3)
There are plenty of high-mileage Nissan Leafs out there and many early ones well over the 100,000 miles mark.
Toyota tackles the battery concern head on with a 100,000 mile battery warranty or eight years, the same as manufactures such as Renault, Jaguar, Audi and BMW. Most other manufacturers offer reasonably chunky battery warranties either capped by years or distance, but generally 7 or 8 years, some with unlimited distance. There’s also variance on the allowable performance of the battery before it can be regarded as degraded, under warranty, with most settling on the 70% level. before it's regarded as an issue.
The high level of confidence in battery life among manufacturers is suggested by the fact that most battery warranties are several years longer than the general warranty on the rest of the car.
So, there are many reasons to file battery worries on the ‘there are more important things to worry about’ pile. Also, it’s really important to remember the reality that 100,000 motoring miles of not using diesel or petrol could prevent around 30 tonnes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere. Of course this does depend on where the electricity that fills the battery is generated, which puts the onus on us EV drivers, and charging network operators, to make sure that we only use sustainable and renewable electricity when we plug in.