As more Australians consider buying electric cars, automotive brands are likely to face scrutiny over the warranty periods on their most expensive component: the on-board battery packs.
Improvements in charging infrastructure and battery technology have eased concerns about their practicality and usable driving range, meaning electric car batteries are likely to get more use in the coming years as they cover more kilometres.
Despite having no moving parts in a conventional sense, batteries are still wear and tear items that will not last forever. As such, they have their own warranty periods – which are usually longer than for the rest of the car.
But what's a fair amount of time for an electric car battery warranty? And what should be covered?
To find out, CarAdvice asked the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia – an electric car advocate and industry body – about what the battery warranty means for an electric car.
What is the average electric car's battery life?
“It’s important to consider that battery warranties are to provide confidence to the consumer,” an EV Council spokesperson told CarAdvice.
“[However] it is not demonstrative of a battery’s life. That is, you don’t buy the car and battery expecting it will die after 'X' years, but that you will be covered by any issues until this point.
“Battery technology is advancing at such a rate, that vehicle range is improving and the life cycle is lasting longer. Given that batteries are the most expensive component of an electric vehicle – this is where a lot of the focus in research and development is going.
“As a result of that effort, in a new EV you buy today, the vast majority of batteries will outlast the usable life of the vehicle.”
What does an electric car's battery warranty cover?
In the same way an internal combustion engine can lose efficiency over time – and thus driving range per tank – so too does an electric car's battery.
Most electric car battery warranties cover capacity loss of the battery to 70 per cent – meaning up to a 30 per cent loss in capacity over the term of the warranty is considered normal and is not considered eligible for a warranty claim.
For context, a 2019 study conduced by Electric Autonomy – which included 21 electric vehicles – found, on average, batteries lost 2.3 per cent of charging capacity per year of driving.
For a car with a 240km driving range (when new), this equates to about 27km of driving range lost over five years of driving.
What electric car battery warranties does each brand offer?
Note: Hyundai's warranty for defects in material and construction of the battery is 10 years/unlimited km.
- Model 3 (Standard or Standard Range Plus): Eight years/160,000km
- Model 3 (Long Range or Performance): Eight years/192,000km
- Model S: Eight years/240,000km
- Model X: Eight years/240,000km
By Liam Murphy