Learn about battery degradation to better understand the pros and cons of incorporating electric vehicles.
If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV), there are some important factors to consider. These three questions are probably at the top of your list:
- How much will the EV cost?
- What is its range?
- How long will the battery last?
From a life-cycle perspective, battery performance and health really are the key to it all. As the battery is an EV’s most expensive component, the degree of degradation will affect the vehicle’s residual value (which helps answer the cost question from above), and will also have a direct impact on the maximum usable range over time.
What is EV battery degradation?
Battery degradation is a natural process that permanently reduces the amount of energy a battery can store or the amount of power it can deliver. The batteries in EVs can generally deliver more power than the powertrain components can handle. As a result, power degradation is rarely observable in EVs, and only the loss of the battery’s ability to store energy matters.
A battery’s condition is called its state of health (SOH). Batteries start their life with 100% SOH and over time they deteriorate. For example, a 60 kWh battery that has 90% SOH would effectively act like a 54 kWh battery.
Keep in mind, this is not the same as vehicle range (the distance the vehicle can travel on those kWhs), which will fluctuate on a daily or trip-by-trip basis, depending on a number of factors including charge level, topography, temperature, auxiliary use, driving habits, and passenger or cargo load.
Geotab offers a free Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation Tool you can use to get some idea of a certain make and model’s battery degradation to help you determine productivity in your fleet.
While this tool shows more or less linear degradation, as a general rule, EV batteries are expected to decline non-linearly: an initial drop, which then continues to decline but at a far more moderate pace. Towards the end of its life, a battery will see a final significant drop. As you might expect, the older a vehicle is, the more likely its battery has deteriorated. However, when looking at the average decline across all vehicles, the loss is arguably minor, at 2.3% per year. This means that if you purchase an EV today with a 150-mile range, losing about 17 miles of accessible range after five years is unlikely to impact your day-to-day needs.
If you would like to learn more about how GPS to GO can help you with managing and optimizing your EV fleet, connect with our team to see how we can help you increase productivity and cut costs!