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14 Apr 2023

What will happen when your EV’s battery gets old? We explain

Electric cars are becoming popular around the world. Even in India, homegrown manufacturers, as well as foreign brands, are establishing their EV portfolios with various new cars. While the electric vehicle culture is still new in India, what do you think will happen to the batteries powering your electric cars and scooters after the end of the lifecycle?
The modern-day batteries used in electric vehicles are way more technologically advanced. While these are essentially Li-ion batteries, better quality and battery management systems have ensured that the overall life increases to several years. Most manufacturers selling electric cars in India offer a warranty of up to 8 years or 1.6 lakh km, which is a decent amount of life.
We know that the batteries would not go kaput after the warranty period gets over. So we can safely assume that modern-day electric car batteries can last up to 15-20 years. Yes, the performance will deplete over time. The range will come down over the years as the batteries lose about 2% range every year.
Even though electric cars are relatively new, there are owners who have used these vehicles extensively. A Tesla Model S P85 owner has already covered 15 lakh km and plans to keep gobbling as much distance as possible. But the original battery gave up after 2.9 lakh km.
There is no way to repair old battery cells. Once they get old and lose their efficacy, the battery pack, which weighs a few hundred kilos and sits on the floor of the car will have to be replaced. Replacing the battery can cost a lot. While we do not have the exact figures since most of the electric cars out there on the Indian roads are still under warranty, replacing the battery of Mahindra E2O can cost around Rs 4 lakh.
Also, as the battery ages and the range of the vehicle come down, it will affect the resale value. India is one of the biggest used car markets and we are ought to see many used electric cars. With the depleted range, the first owners will face a reduced valuation of their vehicles. While the second or even third owners of the electric cars may have to bear the cost to replace the batteries of the electric cars to extract the maximum range and performance from the used electric vehicle.
Electric vehicle batteries are made up of very toxic materials. They cannot be dumped in landfills. However, in developed countries, discarded batteries are used for various mobile power machines. In fact, in the USA, old batteries from the Nissan Leaf are used to store solar power.
These cells of the batteries can be salvaged for rare earth materials like cobalt, nickel and lithium. These can be used to produce new cells for new battery packs.