By: Author of One Week To Save The Earth and former I-Renew Vice President, Marc Franke
The EV battery replacement bug-a-boo … our unfounded, dark fears?
Since I bought my first Electric Vehicle in Oct. 2013 (Nissan Leaf SV … license plate “GasFree”), I’ve answered a lot of questions from co-workers, friends and passers-by about EVs.
One question that almost every person asks is “What does a replacement battery cost?”.
Most of those folks have experience with Li-Ion batteries from their laptops or cell phones and they know the batteries don’t last forever. Nissan warranties the Leaf battery pack for 8 years.
For the Nissan Leaf, the cost question has been answered;
$5495 + trade in the old pack + installation labor + tax = about $6,000.
As I think about my experience with my previous car, 2003 VW Golf TDI (diesel) … 49 mpg, I’m pretty sure I spent at least $6,000 during the life of that car (10 years) on routine timing belt replacement, new fuel injector pump, new intake manifold, new alternator, new glow plugs, new starter, etc. These were all fairly expensive repairs and none of which is even possible on an Electric Vehicle. During those repair intervals, I was also without the use of my car. Plus, as I think of all of the oil changes, air filter replacements, starter batteries, etc. that are simply routine, I know my EV will have saved on maintenance money and repair/maintenance hassles.
Plus … my first winter (2013-2014) with the Leaf in Iowa was one of the coldest on record. The Leaf NEVER failed to start but I knew lots of people with gas/diesel cars that needed a jump to go home! It’s not a lot of fun to horse around with jumping a car at 20 below zero!
BTW (By The Way) … my VW Golf cost per mile today with diesel at $3.62/gal @ 49 mpg (7.4 cents/mile) would compare to my Leaf at 3.6 miles/kwh @ $0.12/kwh (3.3 cents/mile); 55% less. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). J Plus … I make my own “fuel” for the Nissan Leaf with a 4,050 watt bank of solar panels; truly zero emissions (and “fuel price” locked in for the rest of my life).
The cost of the main EV traction battery pack has been a point of concern from the very beginning. It makes the initial purchase price high and stokes worries of the eventual replacement cost.
Here is a nice chart that shows as mass battery production has gone up, the price of the traction pack continues to drop; dropped 40% since 2010!
Cost Projections For Lithium Ion Batteries
This chart is originally from an April 2013 Bloomberg presentation that contains many interesting energy projections.
If EV traction pack batteries have already dropped 40% in price in just 4 years, imagine how it will disrupt the automotive industry as the price of a new EV continues to drop even more! EVs are far simpler to build with many, many fewer moving parts requiring repair and maintenance. It should not be long until an EV costs less for initial purchase than a conventional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car. Once that happens (less to buy initially, less to maintain AND less to operate), the ICE based car industry had better look out!
It would appear that our fears of an eventual, ultra expensive new battery swap for an EV are more or less unfounded.