scorecardEVs to avoid if you want to dodge battery replacements that can cost up to $20,000
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EVs to avoid if you want to dodge battery replacements that can cost up to $20,000

Alexa St. John   

EVs to avoid if you want to dodge battery replacements that can cost up to $20,000
LifeThelife2 min read
  • A big concern for prospective EV buyers is if the battery will need replacing.
  • EV battery replacements could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, according to Recurrent.

One of the biggest concerns that prospective electric-car buyers have is if they'll ever have to make a costly battery replacement. And while they haven't been very common among early EVs, some models have needed them more than others.

Excluding major recalls for the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV and Hyundai Kona Electric, of the EVs studied by battery health reporting firm Recurrent, only 1.5% have received battery replacements. About 15,000 EV drivers in the US use Recurrent, so that's only 225 vehicles.

Including the two well-known EV battery pack recalls raises that percentage of battery replacements to 6.5%, according to Recurrent, or 975 of the 15,000.

Behind the recalled vehicles, unsurprisingly, Recurrent found the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S have the highest percentage of battery replacements — with the Leaf at 4.92% and the Model S at 3.75% — as they are among the oldest EVs.

The 2011 and 2012 Nissan Leaf saw 8.3% and 3.5%, respectively, rates of replacement. The 2013, 2014, and 2015 Model S saw 8.5%, 7.3%, and 3.5%, respectively, rates of replacement.

Still, Recurrent found the relatively low numbers promising, and said it suggests EV batteries overall maintain a lot of life.

Why does the likelihood of battery replacement matter?

EV drivers who decide to keep their car for a long time won't want to be stuck with what could potentially be an expensive and major repair, running them anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Batteries degrade at varying rates based on a number of factors like how the EV was charged, what type of environment it was driven in, and more.

The state of the battery is also important info once an EV enters the used market. A second or third owner of an EV would want to know if the battery has already been replaced or if it's something that may need to be done. A battery having been replaced before a second or third owner would actually be a benefit, as the EV would essentially be back to new.

Automakers have a variety of EV battery warranties to assuage fears about potential replacements. BMW and Volkswagen, for example, guarantee 70% of the original battery capacity for 8 years or 100,000 miles. Tesla's Model 3 Standard Range battery has the same terms, but other trim levels of the Model 3 and Model Y have a 70% guarantee at 120,000 miles or 8 years, Recurrent said.

Here's Recurrent's full list:

VehicleHow common is replacement?
Tesla Model Y0.29%
Tesla Model 30.34%
Audi e-tron0.41%
Tesla Model X0.79%
Chevy Volt0.95%
Jaguar I-PACE1.32%
Tesla Model S3.75%
*Chevy Bolt EUV4.78%
Nissan Leaf4.92%
*Hyundai Kona25.15%
*Chevy Bolt EV33.97%

*The high Kona and Bolt percentages are primarily a result of the vehicles' major battery recalls.




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