Electric Cars – How long will they last?

our 2012 ex-leaf

I’ve been really thinking about this article I read recently which stated:

“Current estimates for the lifetime today‚Äôs electric vehicles are over 500,000 miles.”.  

This has made me realize that I’ve been looking at electric cars as a conventional car purchase, but that assumption is probably wrong.  

My experience as an early adopter of an Electric Vehicle has been bumpy.  I leased a Nissan Leaf in 2012 and was initially very happy, happy enough to buy a used leaf after the lease expirec.   however, over time, the limitations of the design became obvious: Nissan treated the electric car as an extension of the Internal Combustion line.  They has two problems in 2012: improper cooling of the 24kw battery, and no concept of integrating the software of the car.  The car came with two clocks, each one needs to be set independently of each other, the battery warnings are not integrated with the Map function, so if you are climbing a mountain and just about to reach the peak, you get a warning that you need to pull over because you can’t possibly make your destination, even though your mapped to descend for 10 miles and will use almost no battery.

The battery life has become problematic, with a 24KW battery I can’t effectively and safely drive more than 25 miles round trip without stopping and charging and this is after putting only 30,000 miles on the battery.  It has lost 3 or 12 bars and about to lose the 4th bar.  When the 4th bar is lost I will replace the battery.  Nissan will help defray the cost, but just this one time.  I expect with VERY careful handling I can get 45,000 miles on the replacement battery.  So if the leaf lasts 500,000 miles, I will need to purchase 12 batteries.  At $6,000 a battery this is big money. 

Battery warrantees have become critical if your going to keep your car for 500,000 miles.  Tesla offers an 8 year, infinite mileage warrantee, with a 70% battery replacement policy.  The new Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, and the Chevy bolt offer an 8 year/100,000 mile warrantee.

Range is an issue for new Electric cars, the current Nissan Leaf has a 150 mile range, both Tesla Model (S and 3) have a range of 210-330 miles depending on what option you purchase.  Tesla miles have been reported to be ‘truer’ than Nissan miles.

Tesla’s approach has been to make software updates available whenever needed.  You purchase a set of equipment on the car, but the use of that equipment can change as the software is updated.  This is important if your going to have a car live for 500,000 miles.  being able to update auto-pilot features and self driving features without having to ‘take it to the dealer’ are critical components to think of, if this is the last car you’ll purchase.

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