Why does electric cars’ battery cost so much?

Just like the batteries in your phone, tablet, and laptop, the batteries in an electric car need to be charged to get their energy back. The size of the battery pack and the type of vehicle affects the battery’s capacity, range, and energy density. When they are new, electric cars are given an estimate of how many miles they can go on a single charge.

But over time, battery packs can lose some of their magic and may not be able to charge as well as they could when they were new. Batteries can lose power over time, especially if the car is driven hard and not taken care of well. The lithium-ion batteries in your electric car can’t be changed out quickly like the batteries in your phone or computer. When the life of your battery goes down, you may be in for a shock when you go to the mechanic.

WHY ARE BATTERIES EXPENSIVE?

The batteries are this much expensive mostly because of what they are filled with. The lithium-ion batteries in an EV are like the ones in your laptop or cell phone, but they are much bigger. The cells are put together in groups that look like big suitcases. The cathode, which is one of the two electrodes that store and release electricity, is the most expensive part of a battery cell. Metals like cobalt, nickel, lithium, and manganese, which are used in cathodes to store more energy, are often expensive. They have to be dug out of the ground and turned into very pure chemical compounds.

At current prices and pack sizes, the average cost of a battery for an electric vehicle (EV) is about $6,300, but batteries for higher-end models cost more. Over the past ten years, the price of a battery pack has gone down by 89%. But the average industry price of $137 for a kilowatt-hour of power (down from $1,191 in 2010) is still more than $100, which is what an EV should cost to match the price of a car with an internal combustion engine. Costs won’t go down as quickly as they have been, and rising raw material prices haven’t helped.

COST OF BATTERY

Even though prices are going in the right direction, the average cost of replacing an electric car battery is still much higher than most people expect. In 2016, studies found that replacing a typical electric vehicle (EV) battery could cost $10,000 or more, which is the same amount as replacing a gas engine in a regular car. Electric car batteries are hard to get from anyone but a dealer, and because they take time to install and calibrate, prices are likely to stay high for a while. By the end of the decade, the price per kilowatt hour is expected to go down, but that may not help someone who needs an electric car battery right now.

There are a few things that add up to this cost. The batteries in electric cars are much bigger than those in most consumer goods, so there is more material to find and store. As sales of electric cars go up quickly, batteries are also in high demand. Batteries can also cost more because they are made to use energy as efficiently as possible. In a standard EV, lithium-ion battery packs are made to have a long range with little maintenance and special charging features like DC fast charging. The power of the battery, how much it costs to install, how it is charged, and how far it can go vary from car to car.

How will the price of batteries go down?

One option is to use nickel instead of cobalt, which is cheaper and can store more energy. It’s not easy to do so, though, because cobalt doesn’t easily overheat or catch fire. Another step has been to make the cathode out of lithium iron phosphate, which is cheap. People used to laugh at these kinds of cells because they didn’t work as well, but as design changes make them better, they are making a comeback. Savings could be made by making battery packs easier to make and using a standard product for a wide range of vehicles instead of making packs for each model.

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