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Electric Car Batteries Explained

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Electric cars are comparable to their petrol counterparts in all aspects except for the engine—or, more aptly, the lack of one. When you check under the bonnet of an electric car, you’ll be welcomed by the sight of a battery instead of a fuel-guzzling engine. 

If you’re in the market for an electric car, knowing how electric vehicle batteries work and how to maintain them can be extremely beneficial. Read on to learn about electric car battery uses, types, maintenance, and more. 

Electric vehicle batteries: Basic uses, functions, & safety 

Before we delve deep into your electric car’s battery, let’s start with the fundamentals first. Below are essential facts about electric vehicle batteries. 

What is an electric car battery? 

An electric vehicle battery is what powers your electric drive unit and vehicle. Instead of a petrol engine, electric cars use a high-voltage rechargeable energy storage block to make it run. 

Usually, electric car batteries consist of smaller module blocks with pouch-, prismatic-, or cylinder-shaped cells inside them. 

How do electric car batteries work? 

Electric vehicle batteries work like other electronic devices. The battery pack stores energy which when converted into electricity makes your electric car run. Electricity from the car battery runs through the controller which powers the motors. 

When the electric car battery loses power, it needs to be recharged from an external source. You can charge your electric vehicle in designated charging stations or at home. 

What are the types of electric vehicle batteries? 

Today’s electric cars are powered by different battery types and made of varying materials. The most common types of electric car batteries are the lithium-ion battery (for fully electric cars) and the nickel-metal hydride battery (for hybrid vehicles). 

Here’s a quick overview of what electric car batteries are made of: 

  • Lithium-ion electric vehicle battery 

These batteries are made of highly reactive lithium and carbon. Because this type of battery has a high energy density and long cycle life, most major manufacturers use them for their electric cars.  

The most common types of lithium-ion batteries used for electric cars are the three-cell chemistry types: lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide, lithium fluorophosphate, and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide. 

  • Nickel-metal hydride electric vehicle battery 

Compared to lithium-ion batteries, these nickel-metal hydride ones offer less driving range but are also less expensive. These nickel-metal hydride batteries are heavier which could impact the vehicle’s performance.   Because of these attributes, nickel-metal hydride batteries are more commonly used in hybrid cars. 

  • Solid-state electric vehicle battery 

Solid-state electric vehicle batteries are a type of lithium-ion battery. The difference is that these batteries have a solid electrolyte instead of a polymer gel or liquid commonly found in standard lithium-ion batteries. This technology is still relatively new and has yet to make its way to large-scale car manufacturing.  

Are electric car batteries safe? 

Yes, modern electric vehicle batteries are safe to use. Safety experts and governing bodies such as the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) test electric car batteries before they are released to the public. In some cases, lithium-ion electric car batteries are safer than petrol or diesel cars as they’re less flammable.  

Using electric vehicle batteries: Lifespan, capabilities, & charging 

If you’re used to the standard car engines, switching to electric can be a drastic change. Aside from the basics, you also need to know how to use electric car batteries. 

What is the capacity of an electric vehicle battery? 

An electric car battery’s capacity pertains to the car’s driving range. The higher the electric vehicle battery capacity, the more kilometres you can drive on a full charge. Most lithium-ion batteries have an average capacity of 40kWh. However, higher-performance electric car batteries can have capacities reaching up to 100kWh.  

How long do electric car batteries last? 

Electric car batteries can last for up to 20 years or over 300,000 kilometres. Take note, over time the battery’s capacity will reduce so your car’s range may be affected. 

Usually, manufacturers put a life expectancy on the warranty to let car owners know when it should be replaced. Most manufacturers provide a five- to eight-year warranty on the electric vehicle battery. 

How to charge an electric car battery? 

Charging an electric car is relatively easy. It’s a lot like fuelling up a car, but instead of a petrol station, you’re going to look for charging stations. In Australia, there are around 4,000 public charging stations such as Chargefox, Evie Networks, and Tesla Superchargers. Simply go to your nearest charging station and top up there. 

When it comes to using the charging docks, all you need to do is plug in the charging cable to the station, go through the payment process, and wait until your car is fully charged. Once it's finished charging, just disconnect the cable and you’re ready to hit the road. 

What should I do if my electric vehicle battery runs out of charge? 

If your electric car battery is entirely discharged, the best thing to do is charge it immediately. Completely using up your electric car battery’s charge without recharging can damage the battery and reduce its capacity. 

Maintaining electric vehicle batteries: Upkeep, replacement, & disposal 

Just like any other piece of equipment, electric car batteries need to be maintained to ensure they’re in the best condition.  

How do you take care of an electric car battery? 

The easiest way to take care of your electric car’s battery is by not completely depleting its charge. If you keep going from no charge to fully charged, you could damage the battery and reduce its capacity. 

As much as possible, keep your battery’s charge above 10 per cent. Although it’s unlikely that you’re going to continuously deplete your electric vehicle battery entirely, it’s still best to keep an eye on your battery’s charge and recharge when appropriate. 

How much does an electric car battery replacement cost? 

Depending on the make and model of your electric car, a replacement battery can cost you around $5,000 to $30,000. It may be worth it to go to a mechanic or automobile expert to see if your electric vehicle battery can be repaired instead of replacing the whole thing.  

How do you dispose of an electric car battery? 

You can’t just throw your electric car batteries away in the bin. If your electric vehicle battery needs to be disposed of, contact auto recyclers or send them to specialist firms. Find places that can recycle or properly dispose of the battery for you. 


In the market for an electric car? Get in touch with loans.com.au today and check out our range of low-rate electric car loans.

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As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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