Electric Car Batteries: Benefits and Drawbacks


by Paul Garland

Electric Car Batteries: Benefits and Drawbacks

So you’re thinking of getting an electric car? Well, one of the first things you need to do before getting one is to learn a few basic things about these vehicles — especially with regards to how they run and where they get their power. And like all things electric, an electric car relies on an independent power source — the battery.

A normal car (powered by an internal combustion engine) only needs the battery to start the engine as well as run the air conditioning system and the car stereo. That isn’t the case with electric cars. In fact, the battery used in electric cars runs about everything. When electric cars were first introduced, the primary concern was (and still is) the quality and reliability of the electric car battery, i.e. how long can the battery last before it needs to be recharged. Fortunately, the last few decades has produced significant improvements on how electric car batteries are made. Now we already have nickel metal hydride (NiMH), lead-acid and lithium-ion (Li-ion) types that are rechargeable and readily available in the market.

Compared to normal car batteries, how do electric car batteries fare? Here’s a look at the benefits:

Cost-effectiveness. For five bucks worth of electricity, your electric car can run for more than 300 kilometers. Now if you do the math and compare that with your current gas costs and equivalent mileage, you’ll see that going electric can be quite economic in the long run.

Cleaner & Greener. Although you still need to burn fossil fuels in order to generate the electricity needed to recharge electric car batteries, the pollution produced is very minimal compared to the pollution caused by internal combustion engines. Plus, with better power generation sources like nuclear plants, the level of carbon emissions in the process of recharging becomes even lesser.

Re-usability. Electric car batteries can be reused and recycled. So you don’t need to worry about how you can dispose of your battery pack.

However, like any new technology, electric car batteries are not perfect. Here are the drawbacks:

They’re heavy. Because electric car batteries are designed to provide more power, they need to be connected to battery packs to ensure heavy duty performance. And these battery packs are not light. A battery pack can weigh as much as half a metric ton. But don’t worry, there’s hope — manufacturers are designing electric cars with lighter body frames to offset the battery’s weight.

Recharging time. Unfortunately, there’s no technology available yet for quicker and easier recharging. You still need several hours of downtime before your electric car can run again.

Maintenance. Electric car batteries are still uncommon, which means the number of service stations which can do repairs is still fairly limited, too. And since they’re quite fewer, maintenance costs might be a bit higher, too.

No doubt, electric car batteries are still a work in progress. It has its own set of limitations but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. But in a few years, the new generation of batteries will be lighter, more economical and most importantly, more powerful. That’s certainly a comforting thought.

WatchMojo.com presents Car Tips: A quick look at how to properly and safely change the battery in your car. For informational purposes only, make sure to consult a professional.