Should we be worried about the battery life of electric cars?

The availability of replacement batteries for the Chevrolet Spark EV has created concern among electric car owners. Do they last as long as expected? Opinions differ.

Owners of electric cars were worried about their batteries when last April, Benoit Charette, editor-in-chief of theAutomotive Annualrevealed that GM would no longer offer replacement batteries for the Chevrolet Spark, sold from 2013 to 2017. GM has since changed its mind, citing “temporary” supply issues.

Note that with 131 km of autonomy on a charge for the Spark, any loss of capacity matters more and more over time.

What about other electric car models?

“The Spark is a special case,” says Daniel Breton, CEO of Electric Mobility Canada. I don’t see such a situation happening for the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona or Tesla, for example. »

According to some, the batteries of electric cars would lose 1% of their efficiency per year (a notion that we could not confirm).

“A loss of 10% represents 45 km over 10 years for a car with a range of 450 km; it is therefore not an issue, continues Mr. Breton. The batteries lose their efficiency at first, but this stabilizes after a few years. Owners of electric cars will drive between 300,000 and 600,000 km before having problems. »

-Listen to Patrick Déry’s interview with Daniel Breton on QUB radio:

In unknown territory

But electric car technology is fairly new. Only the Toyota Prius hybrid has a significant history. Its batteries are nickel and not lithium-ion, like the majority of current electric cars. The Prius has been sold since 1999, and consumers don’t seem to have any trouble getting replacement cells.

George Iny, director of the Association for the Protection of Motorists (APA), is concerned about the guarantees offered by manufacturers.

“The contracts provide for a 30% deterioration before their expiry,” he said. Over eight years, that represents 3% to 4% per year. The problem is that we have no experience in this area for most models in circulation. And, nowadays, with the current supply problems, some consumers wait a long time for their batteries, sometimes for several months, when there are manufacturer recalls. »


  • Book fast charging (at 50 kW terminals) for long journeys. According to sources, Tesla’s battery design would allow more of this type of charging.
  • Systematically recharge to 80% of the capacity (with exceptions, for example for travel) if you use a level 2 charging station (240 volts) at home. Avoid going below 20% before recharging.
  • Connect your vehicle daily to its terminal. Some manufacturers recommend unplugging the vehicle when the battery has finished charging and you don’t expect to use it for a few days.
  • Preheat your car 30 minutes before leaving if it is connected to a terminal, to maximize battery efficiency, especially in winter.

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