The Dirty Little Electric Vehicle BATTERY Secret

Electric vehicles are the future and will ultimately be what everyone drives though there are a myriad of kinks that have to be worked out before they are widely embraced — range, recharging time, electric grid, electric generation, and local infrastructure amongst them.

BMW i3 electric vehicle 2023

How about the battery, Big Red Car? Huh?

There is another consideration: the bloody electric battery.

EV “skateboard” battery and engine design with the battery located at the bottom of the chassis.

Give me the battery skinny, Big Red Car

Yes, of course, dear reader.

The EV battery costs forty percent of the total expense of building an electric vehicle. It is a critical constraint to the performance (and re-sale value) of the EV.

The bigger the battery as measured in KWh — kilowatt hours — the greater the travel range.

Range is held hostage to EV battery performance. EV battery performance is held hostage to the size/weight of the battery. Simple stuff.

But there’s more

There are two other constraints that also relate exclusively to the EV battery:

 1. The condition of the EV battery determines the re-sale value of the vehicle.

 2. If you have a battery failure necessitating replacement, it is damn expensive to replace, perhaps, as much as the current value of the car.

How does the condition of the EV battery impact re-sale value, Big Red Car?

Ahhh, dear reader.

The conduct of the owner of an EV determines the amount of the battery that can be accessed and recharged. Sellers of EVs will mumble something like, “An EV battery deteriorates at the rate of 1% per year which means at the end of 10 years, your battery will retain 90% of its original as new capability.”

In reality, some used EV batteries — because of bad owner practices, perhaps — lost more than 30% of their range within the first 5 years.

Then, they (the sellers) smile and beam, but there’s more.

 1. EV batteries — multi-cell lithium-ion batteries like your cell phone — do not perform well when they are run out completely or overcharged or allowed to sit at full charge or used sparingly. Sound familiar?

 2. A “fast charging” tech generates a lot of heat and that heat degrades the chargeability of the battery over the long term.

 3. EV batteries are designed to be operated at 70F and do not react well to extreme cold or heat which has a huge impact on operations and recharging. Temperature can cut your EV range in half.

 4. These factors are quite individual meaning that the individual driver determines many of these things. They are also quite common.

There are a number of startups and established companies that test the “rechargability” and capacity of used EVs to determine the amount of “as new” performance retained by the used EV and its battery.

So what do the EV manufacturers do, Big Red Car?

Well, first they lie.

Elon Musk famously said it should cost $5,000 to replace a Tesla battery until there was some experience and it costs way, way, way more than Elon’s utterance.

Tesla/Musk have led us to believe the numbers to replace a Tesla EV battery are as follows:

Model S — $13,000 to $20,000 parts and labor (a Model s costs $75 – 90,000)

Model X (SUV) – $14,000 ($80,000)

Model 3 (entry level Tesla) – $13,000 ($39,000)

They will not actually replace a battery for this price, but they “suggest” this is the right amount.

Is there a battery warranty, Big Red Car?

Yes, dear reader, if you buy a NEW car there is a replacement warranty (not degradation of performance, replacement only upon failure) and the warranties are quite good, in the ten year range and they cover the battery, but you must be on your toes if you buy a used EV as there is always fine print as to whether the EV battery warranty — often a specific warranty rather than the general warranty for a new car — transfers.

Tesla requires the transfer from the original owner to the subsequent owner be handled by Tesla which means they get a chance to inspect the EV and assess the battery.

The used car market will tout some EV batteries as having a life of 300,000 miles suggesting the damn car won’t last 300,000 miles, but there is nothing they can do or say about degradation of battery performance.

Bottom line it, Big Red Car, we have lunch plans today

Caveat emptor, dear reader, when it comes to EV batteries, range, chargeability, and warranty as it is remarkably different than internal combustion engines.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway, I’m just an ICE Big Red Car.

Say a prayer for the world, the whole world, and nothing but the world. We need it.