The immersion of the electric-engine vehicle into mainstream society has been a major boon to both the state of the environment and the state of many personal budgets. Although fully electric cars do tend to be a bit pricier than their petroleum-powered counterparts initially, most are eligible for government incentives (tax rebates, generally) and all will offer you zero-emission transportation along with massive savings over purchasing fuel (you can usually expect to pay an equivalent of less than a dollar per gallon by getting from point A to point B by electronic means). However, this technology could still be considered to be in its infancy (despite the fact that the first electric cars were invented over a hundred years ago, it took this long for the idea to gain traction). This means that there are still a lot of unknown factors concerning these cars that come with the addendum of “only time will tell”. So how long can you reasonably expect your car battery to hold up? Here’s a breakdown.
In truth, nobody is really sure just yet. The oldest of the modern electric cars on the road these days have been operating for little more than a decade, with varying states of mileage, wear, and treatment to contend with. Some have had to receive new batteries while others have not. But even aside from this spotty information, newer and better batteries are being created every day, which means any data coming in from older vehicles is probably useless. So there you have it.
Well, not quite. It turns out that a number of automakers and adjacent industries are hard at work testing these engines in order to supply concerned consumers with at least a range of time that they can reasonably expect their electric car battery to hold up. Everyone from car and battery manufacturers to chemists and physicists are on the job, intent on finding a way to determine just how long an electric car battery might last. And that is half the problem. Not only do the batteries themselves vary widely, but there is, as yet, no agreed upon method of testing or equipment to adequately measure the potential life of a battery. The equation is full of variables that have yet to be determined, making it potentially impossible to calculate an estimated life cycle accurately.
Right. That just sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, doesn’t it? Well, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Jeff Dahn, a professor at Dalhousie University in Canada who has put together a diverse research team of 25 qualified individuals (including both governmental and private sector participants) to implement a targeted 5-year study set to determine the best method of predicting battery life for electric vehicles (and it will only cost $4.1 million…okay, actually, that’s not a lot).
It seems that they already have equipment in the works that will more accurately mimic real-world road conditions, but compress years of abuse into just a few weeks of testing. This, in turn, should help testers to set standards for determining the efficiency and deterioration of batteries over time, which will hopefully help to lower consumer costs by extending the value of a particular vehicle commensurate to its predicted battery life. For most people, that may not be enough to run out and sell trucks and trailers in order to purchase more eco-friendly vehicles. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.