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Batteries & Safety

Today’s lithium-ion battery technology is dependable, safe, and long-lasting. That means you can expect the battery in an electric car to outlast the car itself. Plus, the lack of a combustion-engine allows for design decisions that keep you and your passengers safer in the event of an collision compared to a gas-powered car. 

EVs are some of the safest cars on the road.

Electric vehicles undergo the same safety testing and must meet the same standards as traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. In fact, many major independent government agencies believe electric vehicles are safer than gas guzzlers because of the way weight is distributed in EVs and the lack of an internal-combustion engine.

The battery packs of EVs are located in the base of the car and give them a low center-of-gravity. This increases the car’s stability and reduces the risk of rollover in the event of an accident. Furthermore, without an engine in the front end of the vehicle, the crumple zone of EVs can absorb more force during a front-end collision. This reduces the torque forces that passengers would experience in a crash.

The lack of a traditional engine also lowers the risk of fires. Most highway fires are caused or exacerbated by the flammable liquids (in other words, the fuel!) inside combustion engines, which is not an issue in battery-powered vehicles. With most of their weight in the floorboards, EVs have better handling and maneuverability, making them less likely to get into an accident in the first place.

There are additional, EV-specific safety standards that electric cars must meet to ensure the safety of the battery. According to the United States Department of Energy, EV-specific standards prevent chemical spillage, secure batteries during a crash, and isolate the chassis from the high-voltage system to prevent electric shock.

If you'd like to compare safety ratings between different EV models, here are some great resources we recommend:

Battery Longevity

Although they are a relatively new technology, the batteries inside electric vehicles are designed for maximum performance and lifespan. According to data analysis from over 6,000 electric vehicles, batteries show "high levels of sustained health." That means the battery pack in a given electric car is likely to outlast the useful life of the vehicle itself.

Electric vehicles also come with warranties that would protect you in the (unlikely) case that you purchase a vehicle with a faulty battery. The warranty usually covers 8 years or 100,000 miles of driving, but be sure to read the fine print when you purchase to determine your coverage. 

Like any machine, batteries decline in performance as they age. Notably though, heavily-driven vehicles don't show faster rates of degradation than lightly used ones, so you should feel free to take advantage of the full range of your vehicle on your commute or long road trips. The biggest factor affecting a battery's long-term health is actually heat exposure. You can learn more about this process and get tips on how to extend the life of your vehicle here. 

EV battery

EV Battery Degradation Comparison Tool

Geotab, a fleet management company that advises drivers on the transition from gas-powered cars to electric cars, has crunched the numbers to compare long-term battery health among different electric models. Use their EV Battery Degradation Comparison tool to see how your electric car is likely to perform after 6 years of use. 

Compare EV battery health

What happens at a battery’s end of life?

The lithium-ion batteries in electric cars are reliable, but they don’t last forever. Many people are rightly concerned about what will happen as batteries reach the end of their useful lives, but there are two developing solutions to keep lithium-ion batteries out of the landfill.  


Reuse

Lithium-ion batteries degrade, or lose storage capacity, naturally over time. Once an EV battery loses 20% of its original capacity, it is ready to be retired, though it may take 10-15 years for the battery in an electric vehicle to reach this point. 

Old batteries80% capacity of an EV battery is a lot of storage; a single used battery of this size has the storage capacity of nearly 9,000 smart phones! After a full life in an EV, batteries are too valuable to send to the recycling plant or the landfill right away.  

Used EV batteries could be disassembled and used for small mobile devices, but a more likely scenario is reusing the entire pack as is for grid-scale energy storage. There are policies and markets developing already for stationary storage to pair with renewable energy projects to provide power when it’s not windy or sunny.  

Recycling

Eventually, batteries will meet the end of their useful lives, and there is potential to recycle the metals and other ingredients in the car battery to produce new batteries. As with storage, a whole new industry will grow up over time as EVs proliferate, and there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future of lithium-ion battery recycling. 

Lithium-ion batteries are expensive in part because the metals used to manufacture them are pricy to mine. These metals, including lithium, cobalt, and nickel, are valuable enough to provide an incentive for recyclers to recover them. As a supply of used lithium-ion batteries enters the market and the demand for raw materials to produce lithium-ion battery increases, recycling will become viable as a business strategy.  

Economic pressure will hasten the development of recycling processes for EV batteries, even in the absence of strong environmental policy to keep them out of the landfill. As of 2020, there are few lithium-ion battery recyclers because there’s not much to recycle yet; the batteries used in the first EVs from 2012 and beyond are still inside their original vehicles.  

Battery Health

Although they are a relatively new technology, the batteries inside electric vehicles are designed for maximum performance and lifespan. According to data analysis from over 6,000 electric vehicles, batteries show "high levels of sustained health." That means the battery pack in a given electric car is likely to outlast the useful life of the vehicle itself.

Electric vehicles also come with warranties that would protect you in the (unlikely) case that you purchase a vehicle with a faulty battery. The warranty usually covers 8 years or 100,000 miles of driving, but be sure to read the fine print when you purchase to determine your coverage. 

Like any machine, batteries decline in performance as they age. Notably though, heavily-driven vehicles don't show faster rates of degradation than lightly used ones, so you should feel free to take advantage of the full range of your vehicle on your commute or long road trips. The biggest factor affecting a battery's long-term health is actually heat exposure. You can learn more about this process and get tips on how to extend the life of your vehicle here. 

EV battery

EV Battery Degradation Comparison Tool

Geotab, a fleet management company that advises drivers on the transition from gas-powered cars to electric cars, has crunched the numbers to compare long-term battery health among different electric models. Use their EV Battery Degradation Comparison tool to see how your electric car is likely to perform after 6 years of use. 

Compare EV battery health

Have questions about electric vehicles?

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