EV range and batteries
An EV can easily meet most people’s daily driving needs
Battery range – how far you can drive on a single charge – depends on the type of EV, its battery capacity, the type of roads (flat, hilly or winding) and your driving style.
Find an estimated range for specific vehicles on the vehicle fuel economy label or the Rightcar website. For most new EVs, a drive of 300km is within easy reach.
Use your odometer or Google Maps to record how far you drive in a typical day or week – you might be surprised how easily an EV can meet your needs.
EV batteries are designed to last many years
Most new EVs have battery warranties that guarantee the battery for a certain length of time (typically 5-8 years, sometimes longer) or distance (such as 100,000km).
Over time, EV battery capacity gradually decreases the more it is used, like a mobile phone. It can also happen when a vehicle is parked up and not being used.
Decreased capacity means the car won’t travel as far on a single charge. It will still work well, and will be a good option for car buyers who don’t need to travel so far between charges.
Get the best out of a battery
Looking after your battery will help to maintain capacity for many years.
- Only recharge the battery when needed. Many EV owners find they only need to charge every few days.
- Limit exposure to extreme heat or cold. In very hot weather (over 30 degrees C), park and charge in the shade or in a garage. In freezing temperatures, follow battery care instructions in the manual. Some batteries have thermal management systems that use a small amount of energy to protect the battery by regulating its temperature.
- Check fast charging advice. Frequent fast charging may decrease battery capacity over time, but it depends on the EV model and the climate it is operating in. The EV manual or manufacturer should provide more details.
- Follow the manufacturer’s servicing recommendations. EVs should always be serviced by a qualified technician.
- Don’t store with a fully charged battery. If your EV won’t be used for a long time, follow the battery care instructions in the manual.
Assess the battery before you buy
If buying a used EV, it’s important to get the battery properly checked.
You’ll see battery condition described in a number of ways including percentage of battery capacity remaining, State of Health (‘SoH’) and, for a Nissan Leaf, how many bars the car will charge to out of 12.
A data reader can be plugged in and a battery health check performed – you can even have the results sent to your smartphone.
The battery’s State of Health is a useful way to judge how much life a used EV’s battery has left. It describes the overall condition of a battery – not its current charge. For some vehicles, on-board diagnostics can provide data that will help you determine how much longer you can expect it to last, based on how it has been used to date.
SoH can be more useful than an odometer reading. For example, an EV may have very low mileage but a reduced SoH if it has been in storage for some time, or has been excessively fast-charged. An EV with slightly higher mileage but better SoH may be a better option.
Old batteries can be refurbished or replaced
When an EV battery no longer provides a useful driving range – typically after many years – it can be refurbished or replaced. Sometimes it’s possible to just replace the dead cells within a battery. If a full replacement is required, you may be able to improve the range of your EV by installing a new battery with more capacity, providing it’s compatible with your vehicle.
A servicing industry for battery replacement, refurbishment and repair is growing as the New Zealand EV market matures and batteries begin to age. Battery replacement should only be carried out by a qualified service provider, such as an approved service agent for the vehicle.
Although a new battery is expensive, costing several thousand dollars, EVs are cost effective even when battery replacement is taken into account. Research by EECA shows that even if owners need to replace the battery, an EV can compete with a petrol car in terms of whole of life cost.
What happens to the old battery?
The used battery still has value. It can be refurbished, repurposed or recycled – for example, to store electricity from solar PV panels, or raw materials reclaimed. You may even be paid for the old battery.
Members of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA) have committed to a code of practice to have suitable systems in place for the use, capture, return, refurbishment, reuse, recycling or disposal of EV and hybrid batteries, with the aim that no batteries end up in landfill.
The Battery Industry Group (B.I.G.) is working to design a ‘circular’ product stewardship scheme for large batteries. B.I.G. will create safety guidance and explore second-life options and innovative end-of-life solutions that help create a circular economy for large batteries.
B.I.G. is a collaboration between over 80 businesses across energy, waste, transport and battery sectors which have large batteries (stationary and mobile) in their value chain.