What is the warranty on my electric car and can I upgrade or change the battery on an EV?

by Steph Carty 2 years ago

Remember when a new car came with a 12 month or 12,000 mile warranty…whichever occurred sooner? Older readers of this certainly will recall what now seems to be a low level of assurance from a car manufacturer. Fast forward to today and the warranty on cars have majorly increased; find out more below as well as knowing if you can replace a battery on an electric car…

Nowadays of course, we are seeing 3 years / 60,000 miles as the typical warranty. Some manufacturers have even gone as far as 7 years.

But having a large battery in a car is still a relatively new phenomenon.

However, just like with the standard warranty improving, so too has the warranty on batteries. In the early years, it was all just part of the overall warranty, but this is changing with the latest cars. The majority, including all Volkswagen cars, now have an 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty on their lithium-ion batteries. In fact, the batteries fitted to the upcoming range of ID Volkswagen cars are anticipated to last as long as the vehicle itself.

Volkswagen MEB electric platform
Volkswagen MEB electric platform

There’s another addition to the warranty too because as well having the battery covered against any defects for that length of time, Volkswagen also says that it is guaranteed to reach a charge of at least 70 per cent for the duration of the 8 years.

Here’s a comforting bit of information. In some of the original electrically powered cars and those with a hybrid capability, the batteries are generally working well after more than ten years. They’re still holding their charge and producing plenty of power. In other words, the early signs are that if you buy an electric car, yes it will have a lengthy warranty on the battery, but even if you intend to keep your car for a lot longer than that, the battery, it would appear, will still be in good working order. Fingers crossed anyway.

What if you want to upgrade your electric vehicle battery though?

First of all, why would you want to upgrade? The obvious answer is that your circumstances change. Perhaps you move out of a city apartment and buy a house in the country therefore giving yourself a lot longer journey to and from work. Perhaps your work circumstances change and you will be spending a lot longer on the road getting from A to B.

Unfortunately, upgrading is really tricky because all of the electrics built into the car are designed to work on the particular power output from the battery which is fitted as standard. Changing the battery might see some of the electrical items fail to work properly.

Another problem is that a different battery will probably be a different size and have different fittings.

Robots on SKODA production line transporting heavy battery modules
Robots on SKODA production line transporting heavy battery modules

You can buy your electric car with varying battery sizes, but you need to do this when you first order the car. For example the new range of ID cars from Volkswagen will be available, from launch, with three battery sizes… 48kWh, a 58kWh and 77kWh. The larger the battery, the longer the range. The smallest battery will give you around 200 miles while the biggest battery will give you around 340 miles. Obviously it’ll take longer to charge if you go for a bigger battery.

However, things are changing in regard to upgrading. Tesla has a clever gadget that allows you to upgrade your battery online. The battery already has the capability. Renault are close to allowing a swap arrangement. Most buyers of Renault Zoe electric cars, hire the battery. This keeps down the purchase cost of the car. However, you can now trade in one battery for another of a different size.

You can guarantee that this idea will spread throughout the electric car industry but, for the moment anyway, apart from a handful of cars, the battery that comes with the car is the one that stays with the car.