EV batteries play a key role in the expansion of electromobility. As part of the energy transition and climate protection, electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent, and in the future will likely make a considerable contribution to reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
E-mobility is a major step towards a more environmentally friendly future. The latest figures show that over 110,000 electric vehicles were registered in 2022, which accounts for 2.3% of the entire auto market. This figure has been growing constantly in recent years and by 2035, over 2 million EVs will likely be on the road in Switzerland.
We still have a ways to go before we get to that point, however, and several things need to happen before we can achieve this ambitious goal. Ultimately, EVs need to gain greater acceptance and incentives are needed to convince a larger number of end users to buy electric.
One of the ways to achieve this is through the use of financial and tax advantages. But technology also plays a decisive role, and this primarily involves the batteries for electric vehicles. The battery is the most expensive part of any electric car.
Everyone is familiar with the batteries in smartphones and other devices and knows that they degrade over time. The battery also determines the car’s range, which is an important factor for many people who use their car on a daily basis and also drive longer distances. And charging a battery takes a lot longer than filling the tank with gas.
In order to integrate car battery charging into people’s everyday lives so that it’s not a chore and becomes a drawback, batteries need to undergo continual improvement.
There are different kinds of batteries that are used for EVs. The most common is the lithium-ion battery. But there are also lithium-polymer batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries. The batteries differ mainly in their performance, capacity, lifespan and cost.
Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages over other EV batteries. They have a higher energy density, which means that they save more energy for the same size and weight. And this translates into a greater range. Their lifespan is also longer and they can handle a larger number of charging cycles before they have to be replaced.
Lithium-polymer batteries use a similar principle, but they are made of a plastic polymer which makes the battery highly flexible.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries are less prone to overheating, so they are considered to be safer to use. The problem is that they are not able to convey all of the energy to the engine, which significantly limits their efficiency and has prevented their great breakthrough.
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest and simplest type of batteries for electric vehicles. But since they have very low energy density and very little capacity, they’re not well suited to the task.
Due to their high energy density and capacity and long lifespan, lithium-ion batteries are the preferred battery technology for EVs. In the long run, however, solid-state batteries could very well be a viable alternative. The problem is that the technology is not market ready.
Electric car batteries have undergone considerable advances in recent years. The lithium-ion technology has become established in the market and is built into most models.
When choosing your EV and a suitable battery, you should focus on three things: The capacity, charging time and lifespan. How efficient are EV batteries?
The capacity of a battery depends on the model and manufacturer. Most electric cars have a capacity of between 40 and 100 kWh. The larger the battery capacity, the greater the range. An EV with a battery capacity of 40 kWh has a range of around 200 kilometers or so, while an EV with a battery capacity of 100 kWh can go for over 600 kilometers. Just as with gas-powered cars, the exact distances vary from model to model. According to the ADAC ecotest, they can fluctuate between 16.7 kWh/100 km and 30.9 kWh/100 km, depending on the manufacturer and car.
And the range of an electric car also depends on other factors, such as the way you drive, the temperature and whether you use the air conditioner or heater.
An electric car with a battery capacity of 80 kWh can be charged to 80% in about 30 minutes at a fast charging station. A full charge with direct current cam take up to 90 minutes, however, depending on the charging station. Switzerland has numerous fast charging stations, with more being added all the time. Charging at an AC charging station or with a wallbox at home with DC takes much longer. At home you can just let your car charge over night so it’s ready for the next day.
The lifespan of a battery concerns car buyers for a number of reasons. Over the course of its life, the battery loses capacity and performance. The type of battery, usage and ambient temperature all influence the life of a battery. Depending on the model and manufacturer, a battery warranty can last between eight and ten years. But at some point, performance will start to suffer. After 100,000 km, a battery can no longer be expected to reach 100 percent. Today’s batteries still last a long time, though, and do not need to be replaced every two years as some people think. It’s important to know that slowly charging your battery, mostly at home with alternating current, is much easier on the battery.
Recycling batteries decreases the amount of waste in landfills and makes it possible to reuse the valuable materials they contain. Not only is this good for the environment, it can also help offset future shortages in raw materials. Modern recycling processes can recover up to 90% of the resources used.
EV batteries have a limited lifespan and gradually lose capacity with constant charging, which is why manufacturers are working on improving batteries and offer a warranty for the life of the battery. Warranties typically cover up to eight years or 160,000 kilometers.
Buying a second-hand car always involves a certain amount of risk. What condition is the car in and how long will the individual parts last? Electric cars have the added battery concern, whose capacity slowly but surely degrades over time. This shouldn’t stop you from buying a second-hand car, however, because you can find out precisely how much life the battery has left and whether it’s enough for your purposes.
Ideally, the seller should be able to prove using regular check-ups how healthy the battery is and how much longer it will likely last. If there is no documentation on the state of health of the battery, then you should have it professionally assessed before you buy the car.
Electric cars are often pitched as the more environmentally friendly alternative to gas-powered vehicles since they produce zero emissions, thereby reducing your carbon footprint. However, manufacturing and disposing of EV batteries does not come without harm to the environment.
Producing EV batteries consumes a large amount of raw materials, which are often mined under poor working conditions, and the mining also expends a great deal of energy. What’s more, the vast quantities of energy needed to make the batteries often comes from burning fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide into the air.
Despite this, studies show that EVs are still a more environmentally friendly alternative to combustion engines. Which type of electricity you choose to charge your battery also makes a difference. If you use the regular electricity mix, you will have to drive 80,000 km before the car is more climate-friendly than a similar diesel model. If you use strictly green electricity, it will only take you 40,000 km.
In recent years, electric vehicles have become more popular and have seen steady growth in sales. But batteries still have some challenges they need to overcome:
The following tips for EV drivers can extend the life of the battery and ensure that it provides maximum performance even after thousands of kilometers:
Range, charging time, lifespan: Many of the decisive factors in purchasing an EV revolve around the battery. Continued improvements in battery technology have turned EVs into a practical alternative to gas cars. But there are still a number of obstacles to overcome before electric cars become a viable option for the majority of people. The price is just as important as the charging infrastructure. And new technologies such as bidirectional charging are already in the offing. In the long run, EV batteries will making driving more environmentally friendly.
The lifespan of an EV battery depends on many things, including the type of battery, driving style and maintenance. A typical EV battery can last for up to 200,000 km or more before it needs to be replaced.
The cost depends on the size of the battery and the type of electric vehicle. A typical EV battery can account for around half of the price of the vehicle, although prices vary depending on manufacturer and model.
Maintenance for an EV battery depends on the type of battery you have. The most common batteries are lithium-ion batteries, and they normally only need minimal maintenance. But it’s still best to have them checked by a pro once a year.
Over time, the scarcity of lithium could indeed turn into a potential problem. Ambitious climate goals and the rising needs of e-mobility have pushed up the demand for lithium. New technologies and more efficient recycling of raw materials can at least partly offset this problem.
It used to be possible to rent the more expensive batteries from the manufacturers. This changes the question of cost and assures regular servicing. Today, most manufacturers have moved away from this practice.