Electric vehicles are powered by expensive lithium-ion batteries—essentially souped-up versions of the battery inside your phone or computer. While the original 2012 Nissan Leaf had an estimated range of 82 miles when new and lost up to 20 percent of its range over the first five years of use, current EVs have driving ranges of up to 300 miles and are expected to last at least 150,000 miles without any significant reduction in range.
Over time, lithium-ion batteries slowly lose their ability to hold a charge. However, some habits and circumstances can speed up this decrease in capacity. “Factors that can negatively impact battery health include charging behavior, charging current, temperature, time, and number of charge and discharge cycles,” says Matthew Lum, an automotive engineer with AAA. Once battery capacity falls below 80 percent, you may start to notice a change in the range and performance of the battery.
Here’s what you can do to maintain your EV’s range and decrease wear on the battery.
Opt for slow charging when possible.
Minimizing the use of DC fast chargers on a regular basis is best for your battery health, says Lum, who recommends charging your car at home as often as you can.
“Typically, the quicker the charge, the more stress on the battery,” says Jess Shanahan, an automotive journalist and future-of-mobility expert. “If a car was to be charged on a regular basis with only high-speed chargers, it might lose more battery capacity than one that was only ever charged slowly at home.” According to Kia's website, eight years of standard charging will give you 10 percent more battery life than if you had only used fast charging during those years.
However, the occasional use of a level 3 fast charger, such as a Tesla Supercharger, will not cause a significant impact. “Owners of EVs should not let concerns over fast charger use deter them from taking their EVs on road trips,” Lum says.