What happens to EV batteries at the end of their useful life in a vehicle?

Most EVs are sold with 8 to 10-year warranties on their batteries and electric motors. That said, like other vehicles, EVs are expected to last as long as similar petrol or diesel vehicles e.g. around 15 years (or equivalent in terms of total kilometres driven e.g. 180,000-200,000 km).

As EVs get older, the batteries progressively degrade. It is expected that at around 75% of the battery’s original capacity, it has reached the end of its life in an EV. In reality what this means is that if the car was sold with 400 km driving range, at the end of its useful life it could be down to around 300 km.

Despite potentially no longer being as useful in an EV, at the end of life in a vehicle the batteries still store significant amounts of energy. As a result, several companies are already taking used EV batteries and converting them into stationary storage to power homes, buildings and the wider electricity grid. It’s expected these used EV batteries could last up to another 10 years for these use cases.

Once an EV battery has lost a significant proportion of its original energy capacity, it can then be recycled into materials used to build new batteries. The efficiency of this recycling process continues to improve, with the possibility of having almost a closed loop in the future where batteries are fully recycled and remanufactured into new batteries.

The European Union has set a target of recycling 70% of lithium-ion batteries by 2030. Similarly, the US has a number of policies to promote the recycling of end-of-life batteries. As the EV industry continues to grow, more policies around reuse and repurposing are likely to be established by governments to ensure the ongoing sustainability of EV batteries.