Your electric vehicle (EV) is probably powered by a lithium-ion car battery.
This battery has several advantages over conventional lead acid batteries and other types of electric car batteries.
What should you know about lithium batteries?
How far can a lithium electric car battery take you?
What can you do with a retired lithium battery?
We’ll explore the answers to these questions and more.
This Article Contains:
- What Is a Lithium-Ion Car Battery?
- What Is the Capacity of a Lithium-Ion Car Battery?
- What Causes a Lithium Car Battery to Go Bad?
- How Much Does a Lithium Car Battery Cost?
- What Are Your Options for Lithium Battery Recycling?
- 4 Lithium-Ion Car Battery FAQs
What Is a Lithium-Ion Car Battery?
The lithium-ion battery (Li-ion battery) is today’s leading battery in electric and hybrid electric vehicle models — typically comprising an anode, cathode, electrolyte, and separator.
These batteries have lithium ions as the active material of the battery chemistry — where the ions in the battery cell move from the anode to the cathode to produce electricity. While anodes are typically made of graphite, cathodes may contain critical minerals like lithium, nickel, or cobalt. Lithium carbonate, for example, is commonly used as a cathode.
However, cars only use lithium batteries with high energy density.
Varieties include the:
- Lithium Iron Phosphate battery (LiFePO4 battery, also called LFP batteries)
- Lithium Manganese Oxide battery
- Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery
- Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide battery
- Lithium Titanate battery
These Li-ion batteries have a high power-to-weight ratio, high energy efficiency, low self-discharge, and good high-temperature performance.
These qualities make lithium-ion battery technology a revolutionary alternative to traditional car batteries (like flooded lead acid batteries). And some lithium batteries can directly replace lead acid batteries in any vehicle.
So, where is this technology headed?
Researchers are still looking into reducing their costs, extending their lifespan, and preventing overheating. Plus, companies are looking into creating a lithium-sulfur battery for electric car use since it’s energy-dense and made from economical materials.
Let’s look at how far a lithium battery cell can take you.
What Is the Capacity of a Lithium-Ion Car Battery?
The energy storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery pack will depend on the battery material and functions of the vehicle. This capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or Ampere-hours (Ah), influencing how far a car can travel on a single recharge.
Typically, an EV battery capacity can range between 40 kWh to 200kWh.
Here are some battery performance examples:
- The Chevrolet Bolt EV 2022 (General Motors) has a 66 kWh battery and can travel about 259 miles per full charge.
- The Tesla Model S and X have a 100 kWh battery and can travel about 320 to 340 miles before recharging.
Next, let’s see what could deteriorate your electric car battery.
What Causes a Lithium Car Battery to Go Bad?
Various factors can lead to EV battery deterioration, including:
- Age: All automotive batteries start declining with time. This is often called calendar aging, and the degradation is gradual. Typically, EV batteries see sharp declines at the beginning and end of their lifespans.
- Extreme temperatures: Temperatures above 100°F or below 32°F (subfreezing) impact lithium battery capacities and cause irrevocable damage. This happens because extreme heat causes internal corrosion, while extreme cold increases internal resistance.
- Fast charging: Excessive DC fast charging will degrade EV battery life. It creates a heavy load on the battery pack and should only be used when unavoidable (like on long trips).
If your lithium rechargeable battery has degraded beyond acceptable limits, it’s best to buy a replacement before you have a completely dead battery on hand.
How much would that cost you?
How Much Does a Lithium Car Battery Cost?
The cost of a new lithium-ion battery can vary depending on the brand and the capacity of the automotive battery.
Here are some electric vehicle battery brands and their price ranges:
- Antigravity Battery: Antigravity batteries range around $449.99 (30 Ah) to $134999.99 (80 Ah) for LiFePo4 batteries.
- GreenLiFE Battery: GreenLiFE automotive batteries range between $87.99 (6 Ah) to $3,299 (300 Ah) for LiFePo4 batteries.
Yes, these prices are high compared to non-lithium batteries. According to the International Energy Agency, this high fee may be due to inflation and a substantial increase in the cost of the raw material.
On a separate note, many brands like Tesla and General Motors promote electric vehicle production. With the growing popularity of lithium-ion battery technology, it could be worth keeping an eye on battery technology companies listed on stock markets like Nasdaq or the Dow Jones.
But what can you do with a retired electric vehicle battery?
What Are Your Options for Lithium Battery Recycling?
You can’t discard your automotive battery with the rest of your household waste. Lithium batteries are considered hazardous material.
Instead, you could:
- Upcycle your retired lithium rechargeable battery (not a completely dead battery) as an energy storage system for your home or building. You could use it to store renewable energy from solar panels.
- Recycle the battery material. Operations for recycling lithium batteries are predicted to expand since the batteries contain critical minerals like lithium and cobalt. These recycled materials can reenter the supply chain and be used as raw material for battery production.
Next, let’s resolve common queries about lithium EV batteries.
4 Lithium-Ion Car Battery FAQs
Here are quick answers to queries you may have about lithium-ion batteries:
1. How Long Does a Lithium Car Battery Last?
Lithium batteries last longer than other hybrid electric vehicle or standard car batteries.
Generally, these electric car batteries last for about 200,000 miles or around 8 to 17 years. In comparison, a lead acid battery lasts 3 to 5 years, and a Gel or AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) battery lasts around 7 years.
Why does a lithium battery last so much longer?
The Li-ion battery has a slower rate of capacity loss due to age, temperature, and other factors. Plus, in today’s electric cars, automakers use advanced battery management systems to help them operate optimally.
Find out more about the lifespan of electric batteries and how you can prolong them.
2. How Do I Know When I Need a New Lithium Car Battery?
Here are warning signs of a deteriorating battery:
- Flashing Check Engine Light: A weak battery may trigger the Check Engine Light.
- Damaged battery case: Like lead acid batteries, you should replace the battery if you notice a crack or bulge.
- Age: It’s best to replace old electric car batteries (past their recommended age). They may show signs like depleted battery capacity and poor vehicle performance.
But to be sure, you could have a mechanic check your battery pack every few years.
3. Where Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Made?
Most lithium-ion battery production happens in Japan, China, and South Korea. These countries also have good recycling capabilities.
Popular companies in battery manufacturing include:
- Contemporary Amperex Technology
- LG Chem
- SK Innovation
4. Which Other Types of Batteries Are Used in Electric Vehicles?
An electric vehicle could also use a:
- Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery: NiMH batteries have reasonable specific energy and power but high self-discharge rates and cooling requirements. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are fairly popular in hybrid vehicles.
- Lead acid battery: Often used as a secondary battery to power electric circuits. The traditional lead acid battery contains a liquid electrolyte as part of its battery chemistry. It has high power but poor specific energy and cold temperature performance.
- Solid-state battery: Safe with high energy density but performs poorly in cold temperatures. Solid-state batteries usually have a silicon and lithium metal anode and cathode instead of lithium ions.
A lithium-ion battery is a reliable power source for your electric vehicle. And the right care and maintenance can prolong its life. But it’s important to note that the lithium battery isn’t perfect. Lithium-ion batteries are prone to thermal runaway, which can cause overheating or a battery fire. Plus, lithium mining is harmful to the environment.
However, these downsides can hopefully be circumvented with future advances in battery technology and innovations in direct lithium extraction (DLE). Fossil fuels are predicted to run out one day, so it doesn’t look like electric vehicles will be going away any time soon.
Meanwhile, if you have one that still runs on those fossil fuels and it gives you trouble — AutoNation Mobile Service can help you out.
Contact us, and our expert mechanics will get it all fixed, right from your driveway!