Feb. 23, 2022—Ever wonder what happens to the batteries in electric vehicles once they wear out? Since EV batteries lose capacity over time similarly to smartphone and laptop batteries, the first noticeable difference in the car’s performance is its driving range.
As EVs age, their batteries—and the cells within them—can be serviced, but after many years of use and a few hundred thousand miles of driving, they need to be replaced. The cost to replace EV batteries range from $5,000 to $15,000.
Since EV batteries are lithium-ion and contain toxic elements, disposing of them seems difficult, but it isn’t as hard as one might think. There’s a demand for EV batteries in an effort to give them a second life.
“Electric car batteries aren’t very difficult to get rid of because even if they’ve outlasted the usefulness for an electric car, they’re still worth quite a lot to someone,” says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing. “There’s a strong demand for secondary-life batteries. It’s not like when your gas-powered engine dies and it goes to the scrapyard. For example, Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power mobile machines in its factories around the world.”
Nissan uses the old EV batteries to store energy captured in its solar panels. This energy is then distributed onto a power grid. So while old EV batteries may not be able to power a vehicle, they can be used to store energy for redistribution.
One way to think of this second life in EV batteries is to imagine taking out weak batteries from a remote-controlled car and placing them into a television remote. While the batteries can no longer propel the car, they have enough energy to change the channels for a time.