How Long Are EV Batteries Expected to Last?

Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles are expected to last around 15 years 6 photos
Photo: Tesla
Redwood Materials CEO JB StraubelFord and Redwood Materials Join Forces to Recycle Battery PacksLi-Ion batteries in electric vehicles will last a lot longerLi-Ion batteries in electric vehicles will last a lot longerLi-Ion batteries in electric vehicles will last a lot longer
Many people postpone buying an electric vehicle thinking the battery has a very limited lifecycle and replacing it is prohibitively expensive. Experience has shown that EV batteries are quite reliable, actually, with electric cars going strong even after many years and hundreds of thousands of miles. But how long are EV batteries expected to last? JB Straubel, Tesla co-founder and CEO of battery recycling company Redwood Materials, says they could last as long as 15 years.
Many EV naysayers see car batteries as landfill material after their supposedly very short life. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even after their life as an EV battery would be over, they are still useful for energy storage in other applications. And when they will become unusable, the precious materials inside will make them valuable to recycling companies, like Redwood Materials.

In fact, those companies will be waiting eagerly for batteries’ end of life, as recycling turned out to be a profitable business. But the waiting time is quite long if we are to take JB Straubel seriously. In an interview at CERAWeek 2022, Redwood Materials’ CEO says that Li-Ion batteries in electric vehicles should last around 15 years, depending on their use.

It’s a subjective thing depending on what people’s goal is for the car, but I think it’s going to easily be 15 years in most cases,” said Straubel during the interview. “I think battery life will probably track the life of the vehicle life. Personally, I think it’s less likely that people will place a new battery in an old car.”

Straubel is really the right person to answer this question, as he was responsible for Tesla’s battery development until 2019 when he left the company. As the Redwood Materials CEO, he should have become even more competent in assessing EV batteries’ lifecycle, since this is critical to his new company.

Redwood Materials is already working with big carmakers like Ford and Volvo to recycle battery packs at their end-of-life. For now, very few EV batteries have come at this stage, so there’s not very much to recycle. Currently, Straubel’s company recycles 8-10 GWh per year, which translates into hundreds of thousands of cars. Recycling EV batteries is not easy, but the recycled materials are usually purer than the raw materials used in building the new batteries.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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