One of the benefits of owning an electric car is not needing to buy gasoline. The cost savings add up year after year, even when you include the cost of electrons to recharge the batteries.
Two of the biggest concerns since the advent of hybrid and EV technology are electric range and potential cost of replacing battery packs.
Range anxiety has mostly been solved as EV range steadily increases to over 200 miles per charge. Replacing battery packs has, so far, proven to be a non-issue, but it’s bound to become one as the earliest EVs continue to age. How much should people expect to pay once the inevitable happens?
About half of what the car cost new, at least according to Chevrolet.
The good news is that battery packs rarely need to get swapped. Their reliability, whether in a Tesla, Nissan, Toyota, or Chevy, has proven to be fantastic, with the noted exception of some early Nissan Leaf vehicles.
If you buy a Chevy Bolt and need a new battery pack after the warranty expires, you can expect to pay a cool $15,734.29 for a replacement, not including installation. Ouch.
The good news is that automakers are including long warranties on the battery packs. However, that won’t help the owner down the road who buys the car used.
Other automakers are coming up with innovative ways to give buyers peace of mind, one of which is to lease the batteries rather than including them in the sale of the car. That makes the price of the car lower, but requires a small monthly payment to cover the battery lease. Renault, for instance, leases the batteries for about $1,500 per year, which cuts into fuel savings but includes free replacement if needed.
Carmakers selling vehicles in the U.S. are using the long warranty method and offer coverage of up to 150,000 miles. Auto Evolution quoted a Chevy rep who said,
In [almost seven] years of Volt sales we have yet to replace a single battery pack under warranty for general capacity degradation, and many owners are still reporting they enjoy the same range capability they had when they purchased the car.
So far, battery packs are proving to be reliable, but buying out-of-warranty used cars could become an expensive proposition.
Would you rather lease the battery pack in your new EV or own it and risk expensive replacement?