Close-up of a mechanic's hand disassembling an electric car battery on top of a trailer inside a mechanic's shop

How much do electric car batteries cost?

Just like the batteries in a smartphone, tablet, and laptop, electric vehicle batteries must be charged to recover lost energy. Battery capacity, range, and energy density vary from vehicle to vehicle, and with the size of the battery pack. Electric cars are given an estimate of range when new, which is the number of miles they can travel on a single charge.

However, over time, battery packs can lose some of their initial charm and may not be able to recharge to the same level as if they were new. Battery capacity can decrease with use, especially if the vehicle is being driven hard and not well maintained. Unlike the battery in your cellphone or laptop, the lithium-ion batteries in your electric vehicle can’t be replaced with a quick trip to the electronics store. When battery life is running low, you may have a shocking time on your next trip to the mechanic.

Electric car battery cost

The good news here is that most manufacturers offer long warranties on your electric car’s battery, up to 100,000 miles and 10 years in some cases. The cost of servicing an electric vehicle is usually lower over time than a vehicle with a petrol engine, which is a nice touch for an electric vehicle owner. There is other good news in the fact that automakers and battery manufacturers are ramping up production of cars and batteries, which means we will eventually see price parity between electric and gas-powered vehicles. In the meantime, however, we’re all stuck paying more for electric cars, even with the government tax credit and other cuts.

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Even though prices are moving in the right direction, the average electric car battery replacement cost is still falling at a much higher rate than most people expect. In 2016, studies found that the cost of replacing a typical electric vehicle’s battery can be as high as $10,000 or more, which is about the same as replacing a gas engine in conventional cars. It can be difficult to get electric car batteries from anyone other than a dealer, and the time it takes to install and calibrate the batteries means that prices will remain prohibitive for some time. The kilowatt-hour price is expected to drop by the end of the decade, but that might be a little consolation for someone who needs an electric car battery today.

There are several reasons for this cost. Electric vehicle batteries are much larger than those found in traditional consumer goods, so there are more materials to source and contain. The demand for batteries is also increasing as sales of electric vehicles are growing rapidly. Batteries can also be more expensive because they are designed to consume energy efficiently. The lithium-ion battery packs in a standard electric vehicle were developed to offer long range with little maintenance and special charging capabilities such as DC fast charging. Battery power, installation costs, charging features, and range vary from vehicle to vehicle.

solid state batteries

The batteries in electric cars today are traditional lithium-ion units, which means there is liquid inside. These batteries are heavy and do not have the density needed to deliver true penetration range numbers. Solid state batteries promise to revolutionize the EV battery pack with a much more energy-dense battery pack that is lighter, more compact and safer. Since there is no dangerous liquid inside, the solid state units promise reduced fire risk and better energy savings. Many automakers are working hard on the technology, but the price/cost boundary has not been crossed. Solid-state battery models are difficult to develop, very expensive to produce, and it will likely be years before the technology makes its way into mainstream cars.

An overview of electric vehicle charging costs

In addition to the price of buying a new electric car, there are operating costs. Just like driving a gas car means stopping to fill up on fuel, driving an electric car means charging the batteries.

If you own an electric car and own your home, you can consider installing a home charging station. This can cost less than a few hundred dollars, but it can also cost a little more than more elaborate and powerful systems with accompanying EV charging equipment. The cost of charging an electric car at home is likely less than you think.

A woman near an electric refueling station carrying her car

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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Electricity cost

The Alternative Fuel Data Center uses an example of charging an electric vehicle with a 66 kWh battery from an empty battery. Electricity is assumed to cost $0.13 per kilowatt-hour, so the cost of charging a car with a 200-mile range would be about $9.

Electricity prices vary from place to place and can vary slightly from this example, depending on the location, but it’s a good indication that charging electric cars is cheaper than filling up a gas tank.

for the cost of electricity. Gas

As of the time of writing this article, the national average for regular gas is $4,857 per gallon. If we use the 2018 Honda Civic as our example, a 12.4-gallon tank would cost about $60.23 to fill. Of course, the Honda can achieve up to 42 miles per gallon, so in ideal conditions, its full tank of fuel will help it travel more distance than the EV.

Even doubling the cost of electricity still means that the price of charging an EV is lower than filling up on fuel. Gasoline costs fluctuate from time to time, as do the recharge costs that come with owning an electric car.

alternative sources

The dollar cost of gas is likely to remain much higher than electricity over time. Everyone from the US Department of Energy to the local utility company is working on alternative energy sources that will lower recharging costs and hopefully slow the pace of climate change over time.

Federal tax credits may apply

The US government offers a one-time tax credit of up to $7,500 to buyers of eligible hybrid and electric vehicles. The credit applies to vehicles that sold less than 200,000 units, which means that some cars that have been around for a while are no longer eligible for the credit.

It is important to remember that this is not a discount and note that this does not mean that you will receive a check in the mail at the end of the year. The $7,500 credit applies to your annual tax burden, so if you owe less than $7,500, you won’t receive the full amount of the credit.

Government tax credits can help even more

In addition to the federal tax incentives, many states offer a similar credit. Maine, for example, offers an instant discount of up to $2,000 for new electric vehicles. Money can make a real difference to the purchase price of an EV, the Efficiency Maine website notes. Amount and eligibility requirements can vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with your state to be sure what you can claim.

So, how much will it cost to own an electric car over time?

Near the hands of a worker adjusting several cables for the lithium battery of electric cars on the indoor table of an electric car factory

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Maintenance work

Beyond the issue of shipping, electric vehicle maintenance and ownership costs are a big issue for those unfamiliar with the space. Unlike gas-powered cars, electric vehicles do not have hundreds of complex mechanical moving parts, which means that common repair items such as water pumps and air filters do not need to be replaced. Electric vehicles also tend to chew the brakes more slowly than their gas-powered counterparts due to regenerative braking, which uses the electric motor as a generator and slows the vehicle down.

On the flip side, some electric car owners report tires burning at an increased rate, due to the instant torque and exhilarating acceleration that the electric car provides.

Consumption

Consumption and longevity should also be on the minds of electric car owners. Electric cars tend to cost more than their gas-powered counterparts, but over time they have shown a tendency to lose value (depreciation) more quickly. Some electric cars have lost as much as 70 percent of their value over a five-year period.

Of course, keeping any vehicle for an extended period of time is the best way to beat depreciation cost.

How long do electric vehicles last?

The battery in an electric car starts to break down after a while, just like any other electrical component. Over time, batteries begin to lose capacity and do not hold as much charge, which can significantly reduce range. Cars are only useful if they can travel within the advertised range, so an electric car with a bad battery is almost worthless.

Automakers issue warranties for batteries and electrical components in electric vehicles, just as they would for any other vehicle. In many cases, these warranties extend to 10 years, 100,000 miles or more, which means the battery can be repaired or replaced if it fails within that time period.

What are the advantages of owning an electric car?

reduced maintenance

It is true that gas-powered cars are usually less expensive and easier to refuel, but there are many benefits to owning an electric car that have nothing to do with the costs. One of the biggest pluses is the reduced need for regular maintenance. There are no oil changes, no mechanical components to break the liner, no exhaust system, and the life of other components such as brakes can be extended. Many people say that driving an electric car is more relaxing than driving a gas car, because there is no noise from the engine.

road trip

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more performance

Many electric models offer significant performance advantages over gas-powered vehicles as well. This applies not only to the intended high-performance cars, but even to everyday passenger vehicles. Instantaneous torque and acceleration can make electric cars exhilarating to drive, and make them faster than most people expect, depending on your driving habits.

tax incentives

Tax credits may also be available, depending on which electric vehicle you choose. The US government offers a one-time tax credit of up to $7,500 to eligible electric vehicle buyers — and various states offer tax credits on select models as well — reducing the actual cost of the purchase.

All that, and we didn’t even mention the complete reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in everyday driving and the fact that gas prices fluctuate wildly. Fuel costs are a huge incentive for many buyers.

What are the disadvantages of electric cars?

access to freight

There are some downsides that may not appear immediately when you are standing in the dealer’s yard trying to buy a car. Depending on your location, you may or may not have ready access to charging stations. This is especially true for people who live in apartment buildings or those who rent, where it may be impossible to install a home charging system.

Detail of a hand connecting the wire in an electric car to charge the battery in the garage outside the home concept of electric car charging renewable energy, sustainability and transportation

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Shipping

You may also find that electric cars take a long time to charge, even if there is a charging station nearby. Unlike filling a gas tank, which can take a few minutes, most electric vehicles take much longer to recover a large portion of their range. This can make road trips impractical for many, as the requirement of stopping and charging for half an hour or more can turn a simple trip into a long and painful one.

Purchase cost

Finally, there is the issue of purchase cost. Electric cars, regardless of their make, size or technology, are usually more expensive than gas-powered cars.

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