Most EV batteries are still in cars

There have been two major battery recalls in recent years, both related to similar battery pack flaws in the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV and the Hyundai Kona Electric. The remedy for both of these recalls was a sweeping battery replacement program covered by the manufacturers. Other than these two recalls, though, battery replacements in the Recurrent community remain rare.

Across all years and models, outside of big recalls, only 2.5% have been replaced. This increase from last year is entirely due to older cars. For cars older than 2015, replacement rates are 13%, but under 1% for cars from 2016 and newer. 

Batteries from cars from 2015 and older are replaced more than 13 times more frequently than newer cars

Still, most replacements occur under warranty and are part of a new model’s growing pains. For example, new Hummer EVs and Rivians saw higher than average replacements, but were covered by the manufacturer. Similarly, Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona had big replacement campaigns due to manufacturing defects in early model years. 

This is why Recurrent Reports are essential. Recurrent can give you insights into an EV battery without costly or invasive tests.

In the chart below, we show the number of owner-reported battery replacements in the Recurrent community of around 20,000 drivers:

Other than the two notable cases of manufacturer warranties, the oldest models in our fleet see the highest percentage of battery replacements. However, it is important to note that the cars in the Recurrent fleet may skew newer than the average age of cars on the road. This is especially true for the Nissan LEAF, since early models lack the telematic services that we use for our data connection.

We saw increased numbers of non-recall battery replacements in:

  • 2011 - 30.00%
  • 2012 - 15.94%
  • 2013 - 9.81%
  • 2014 - 6.81%
  • 2015 - 3.90%

In terms of newer cars that have had warranty replacements, we have:

  • 2017-2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV (recall)
  • 2019 - 2022 Hyundai Kona EV (recall)
  • Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat (module replacements under warranty)
  • 2022 Hummer EVs (recall)
    • One of our owners reported, “GM called and asked if they could have my battery for an engineering study. They offered me $250.00, the new battery, and a loaner vehicle. Dealer turned it around in 1 day, as this was the second time they replaced my battery. Win win for everyone.”
  • 2022 Rivian R1Ts (all warranty replacements)

Our takeaway - if you’re buying a brand new EV - be it a new make or a new model - there’s a higher potential for a battery replacement, but you should expect it to be fully covered by the vehicle warranty. This is because manufacturers may still have some wiring or hardware issues to work out in early versions. Or, in the case of the very early Nissan LEAF, you may be a pioneer in a totally new technology!

If you have an older EV and are curious about the battery replacement process or cost, we have info for you!

About the data: Recurrent tracks battery replacements over time based on recall status, owner self-reports and by observing unusual jumps in vehicle range that often indicate replacement events. Our community is not representative of all EVs on the road due to limited data connectivity for some makes and model years.

How long will your EV battery last?

The honest answer is that we don’t know. By and large, electric cars have not been around long enough for us to see how quickly they degrade and what their end of life looks like. The best we can do is observe the apparent degradation in those cars on the road.

Even observations from aging EVs can be challenging since almost 50% of the EVs on the road were sold in 2022 and 2023. This means they are far too new to exhibit any meaningful degradation, and that most of the data out there skews towards newer cars.

But, we can look back at early EV models, such as the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S, to get some sense of how they degrade over their lifetime. So far, it seems that EV batteries have much longer lifespans than anyone imagined, since very few of them have been replaced, even once the 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty period ends. Looking just at models from 2015 and earlier, only 13% of drivers have reported a battery replacement. Not bad considering how far technology has come in almost 14 years!

When you jump to newer EVs - even those from 2016 and later - battery replacement rates drop to under 1%. In new EVs, nearly all replacements are covered by a warranty, except in rare cases of an accident or damage to the pack. 

Battery data from Tesla Real Range

Another way to understand how batteries in EVs age is to use what we know about battery science from laboratory testing. Generally, lithium ion batteries degrade in an S-shaped curve. When a battery is new, there can be some noticeable degradation as the battery settles into its steady state. After that, there is a long period of slow, linear aging, followed by a sharp decrease when the battery dies. But even in cars that need a replacement, it is rare to see the catastrophic failure that is expected at the end of a lithium ion battery’s life. Almost all of the EVs on the road today are in their stable state.  

Read more about battery degradation and how to protect against it

Below, we share brand new data showing how Tesla Real Range changes with time, using observations from our community of 14,000 Tesla drivers. Tesla Real Range is a proprietary Recurrent value based on energy usage data in actual Teslas on the road.

In these two charts, battery age on the x-axis is in days. The y-axis is the range ratio, which shows the percentage of the observed range divided by the original EPA range.  

What warranties say about batteries

Another way we can understand the expected lifespan on major EV batteries is by seeing how long the manufacturers guarantee them. The standard battery warranty in the US is 8 years or 100,000 miles, but manufacturers can decide what percentage of original battery capacity is ensured over that time. For instance, the Model 3 Standard Range battery is guaranteed to stay at 70% original capacity for 100,000 miles or 8 years, whichever happens first. Meanwhile, Hyundai EV batteries from 2020 onwards are guaranteed to maintain 70% of capacity for 10 years or 100,000 miles.  

Read more about battery warranties

These warranties should reinforce that EV batteries last for quite a while, and as technology improves, we should expect to see batteries that will show only slight degradation over decades or hundreds of thousands of miles. Maybe the million mile battery is already out there!

Battery second life

The other big question when it comes to battery life is what comes next for all these lithium ion batteries. Batteries that are too degraded to use in cars can still be used to store and generate electricity for other uses that don’t require the same power. 

Read more about battery second life

Has your EV had a battery replacement?

Electric cars with battery replacements provide a lot of insight on the past, present and future of EV batteries. If you have one, please consider contributing some of that valuable information to the Recurrent driver community!

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