Your take-home messages:
There is a looming need to provide affordable battery replacement and refurbishment services in New Zealand to extend the usable life of electric vehicles and secure their financial and environmental benefits. Subsidisation of both whole car and battery replacement costs are necessary to guarantee adequate supply of new and second-hand EVs, and to give potential purchasers confidence to invest in EVs.
This month’s poll:
Our twenty-fourth 1-click survey asked New Zealand EV owners to complete the following statement “Ensuring supply of affordable replacement batteries is the most critical need to sustain uptake of EVs in New Zealand ” by choosing one of five options:
- Strongly agree
- Neither agree nor disagree
- Strongly disagree
Respondents were invited to specify what type of EV they owned or give reasons for their score for the importance of battery replacements for sustained EV uptake.
The poll was sent to 993 recipients on the 9 October 2018. By 18 October we had received 521 answers, 455 of whom provided additional comments.
A majority (65%) of you “strongly agree” or “agree” that securing an affordable supply of replacement batteries is the most serious need for sustaining EV uptake in New Zealand (Fig.1). Seventeen percent “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the moot, leaving 18% that neither agreed nor disagreed.
Figure 1. Responses of 551 EV owners to the proposition that supply of affordable battery replacements is the main need for sustaining EV uptake in New Zealand, October 2018.
What makes you click?
There was a broad consensus amongst us that provision of affordable replacement batteries is important for sustaining EV uptake in New Zealand. Many of those who disagreed with the moot did not challenge the importance of battery replacement, rather they challenged the notion that the battery issue was “the most critical” need for sustaining future EV uptake. They thought that high purchase cost, range anxiety, provision of more rapid chargers, subsidisation of purchases and Road User Charges, and ensuring an adequate supply of affordable EVs were equally or even more important than having battery replacement services. Many others singled out the battery supply issue as the most important future challenge, one respondent going as far as to say we have a “PR disaster” looming when it becomes obvious that the claimed savings and environmental benefits of EVs are negated by the cost and unavailability of replacement batteries. Others saw it as particularly important for late adopters (e.g. “without [the battery replacement] part of the supply chain, the EV fleet will dwindle and die for most owners or never be taken up by those on the fence”.
Nevertheless, a small group of respondents weren’t worried about battery replacement at all, saying that the need was a long way off and that rapid improvements in battery technology and the falling cost of batteries will save their car by the time its range was severely impacted. Some have confidence that there will always be someone else with limited range requirements to buy their car when its battery is degraded, whereas others figured that they would have to sell to buy another EV but were concerned that the degraded battery would greatly reduce the resale value. Some were comforted by the prospect of repurposing the car or the battery once it is spent, but little detail was proffered on the value and practicability of doing that.
It’s natural to become more concerned about battery replacement as one’s EV loses range (e.g. “I own a Leaf Gen1 with 8 bars – so yes this is getting more and more important to me 😉”. This was seen in the way that more owners of the oldest Leafs (Gen 1.1) “strongly agree” with the moot compared to the youngest (Gen 1.2) model (Fig. 2). The 2011 and 2012 Leafs have median battery health scores of 73% – 78% respectively, compared to 90% and 92% for the 2015 and 2016 24 kWh models (https://flipthefleet.org/resources/benchmark-your-leaf-before-buying/). The Gen 1.1 also have on average a lower efficiency (6.3 km/kWh) than their Gen 1.2 counterparts (6.5 km/kWh; https://flipthefleet.org/2018/memo-25/), so a combination of falling battery capacity and lower range per kWh means this group of owners are going to need replacement or refurbishment of the battery first.
Figure 2. Responses of owners of successive generations of Nissan Leaf owners to the proposition that supply of affordable battery replacements is the main need for sustaining EV uptake in New Zealand, October 2018. Here the analysis is reduced to only those respondents who provided additional comments, including what sort of electric vehicle they drive. There were 63, 125 and 89 responses from Gen 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 models respectively.
Several of you pointed out that the urgency and importance of battery replacement services varied a lot between different types and marques of EV, and singled out Nissan Leafs as the most in need. Those observations were backed up by filtering the scores for the main moot by car type (Fig. 3). Owners of Nissan Leafs and Nissan eNV200s were generally more concerned about supply of battery replacements than owners of Plugin Hybrids (PHEVs), and especially more than owners of other Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). The latter group included responses from owners of a Hyundai Ioniq (9), Mitsubishi iMiEV (8), BMW i3 (8), Renault Zoe (8), Tesla (4), Kia Soul (3), Hyundai Kona (2), EV conversion (2) and a VW eGolf (1). About a third (35%) of ‘Other BEV’ owners were concern about batteries (‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’) compared to 66% of the Nissan owners (Fig. 3).
Figure 3. Responses of owners of different types of EV to the proposition that supply of affordable battery replacements is the main need for sustaining EV uptake in New Zealand, October 2018. Here the analysis is reduced to only those respondents who provided additional comments, including what sort of electric vehicle they drive. There were 376, 15, 42 and 15 responses from Nissan Leaf, eNV200, ‘Other BEV’ and Plug-in Hybrid (‘PHEV’) models respectively.
Some respondents ascribed these differences between EV types mainly to an absence of “Thermal Management” of the Leaf batteries – a combination of warmth and high charge accelerates battery capacity fade (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/30-kwh-leafs-soh-loss/). But thermal management of the battery is probably not the only consideration. Our survey sample of Nissan eNV200 van owners is small, but their owners appear concerned about the batteries despite their van having an active air cooling system to reduce overheating of the battery pack (Fig. 3). Perhaps this relates to the relatively low efficiency (5.7 km/kWh) of the vans and therefore reduced range?
Some of you reckon that concerns about the battery replacement is more a problem of perception amongst prospective buyers than a real concern for those people who have already bought an EV. Indeed, several of you report that the most common questions they get from sceptics is “how long will the battery last?” and “can it be replaced at an affordable price?”. The uncertainty undoubtedly undermines the confidence of prospective buyers, especially when added to a lot of unknowns about new technology. Some people thought the uncertainty will become increasingly damaging to EV uptake, others are confident that the increasing size and quality of batteries and improving charging infrastructure will mean that the concern will decline in future. Some were even looking forward to being able to upgrade the size of the new battery fitted when the original one is spent (e.g. fitting a 30 or 40 kWh battery into a 24 kWh Leaf battery space. However, nearly everyone acknowledged that assurance of battery replacement or refurbishment would greatly encourage the next wave of purchasers (whose who are called the “early majority” and who follow the “early adopters” in Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations model (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/1-click-survey-18/).
There is considerable concern that Nissan are not offering a battery replacement or refurbishment service in New Zealand. Some respondents ascribe this to the way New Zealand’s current EV uptake program relies heavily on second hand “grey imports”. Partly this means we get cars entering New Zealand with already depleted batteries, but some owners also pointed to the lack of battery replacements as part of a much wider problem of inadequate after sales service for these second-hand EVs (e.g. “There is no financial incentive for Nissan to help keep these orphans going once they are in NZ, especially if they bring in their new EVs soon and the second-hand cast-offs compete with those sales”). Some of you think that this puts sustained EV uptake in jeopardy, while others are more confident that a strong market for battery refurbishment will emerge to solve the problem (e.g. “Business interests will take care of the supply, if there is a demand. It’s very early days for a market to be created”). This may require third party parts and home-skilled repair services. One respondent expressed considerable concern that cheaper “look-alike” batteries to replace the originals may bring added problems of their own, including “homologation” and quality control issues.
Many of the “early adopters” who responded to this survey said that they either did not consider the battery replacement risk when they bought their EV or that they simply “took a punt” that the replacements would be made available by the time they needed them. For them the sustainability benefits outweighed the financial risks. But there is a growing awareness that the battery replacement service is in itself a sustainability issue because the battery wears out faster than an EV’s motor and body. Several expressed horrors about the huge waste that would ensue if a perfectly good car can no longer be a practical substitute for combustion vehicles simply for a want of a replacement battery (e.g. “I don’t want to end up with the auto version of a single use plastic bag!”. So much energy and past GHG emissions have gone into manufacturing the EV that a long and practical life is crucial for environmental benefits to ensue. There were several calls for end-of-life planning and services to be instigated, but the expected long life of an EV being driven as far or further than its ICV counterparts is seen as key for achieving a zero net carbon economy by 2050.
Discussion and conclusions
Before we consider the wider implications of the survey, we need to issue a warning about its wording. The above wording of the question is fudging the record a bit – we made a mistake by asking if supply of batteries was the most critical ‘threat’ rather than ‘need’. Some of you pointed out the error and stated you were ignoring it. Thankfully, the comments made it clear that all of you (but one) had interpreted the question as intended rather than literally as written. So, we think the results are reliable and we changed the wording above to the intended meaning to avoid confusion for later readers. We must do better next time!
Many themes from our earlier 1-click surveys recurred in your responses to the battery replacement question, including: reliance on second-hand vehicles for EV uptake brings many added challenges (e.g. service, supply), as well as some advantages (e.g. cheaper purchase price); a much more active role by government to either mandate service of second-hand imports or subsidise their purchase and servicing is required; the small and very different EV market in NZ puts us at a severe disadvantage for securing supply for electric transition; we cannot expect the same level of risk taking by the early majority as endured by the early adopters so we have to squarely acknowledge the constraints and collectively work as fast as practical to alleviate them; we have a big knot of inter-related constraints of EVs to untie in the minds of prospective EV buyers (range anxiety, small batteries, rapid charging infrastructure, uncertainty in how long batteries and other car components will last, high purchase cost, uncertain resale value); suspicion of new technology and ingrained acceptance and familiarity with combustion vehicles and petrochemicals means that a whole host of perceived disadvantages of EVs must be unpacked before a tipping point of mass uptake is triggered, and: the situation is changing and rapid improvements in EV technology are likely.
Even though you have shared similar concerns in earlier surveys, some of them are undoubtedly more acute in the case of the battery compared to all other parts of EVs. One respondent summed up this emphasis neatly as “The car is the battery”. Another referred to it as “the heart of the EV”. Uncertainty about battery longevity is particularly acute because rapid onset of battery senescence is expected to overtake an approximately linear decline in capacity during its earlier life, but no-one knows when that will tipping point will occur in EV batteries (https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/201803.0122/v1). If no one can reliably predict if an EV battery capacity will hold up sufficiently for 15 years until they have actually used one for 15 years, there is considerable scope for vested interests on both pro and anti EV factions to minimise or exaggerate the risks. Flip the Fleet has concentrated instead on encouraging ongoing monitoring so that the earliest possible warning of capacity senescence can be detected, and on encouraging best practice in charging to extend battery longevity as much as practicable. A detailed study of charging patterns and battery temperature stress in over 50 EVs is underway using “EV Black Boxes” (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/drivers-memo-27/). It will lead to testing the importance of different charging behaviours on battery health and then formulation of individual family and business battery care programmes (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/curious-minds-funding-to-test-battery-fade-issues/). In the meantime, we recommend that the uncertainty around battery longevity be squarely acknowledged and talked about so that purchasers commit to EVs in full knowledge of the risks, and so that New Zealand adequately prioritises investment and policy interventions for battery maintenance and replacement services.
Flip the Fleet strongly urges that government intervenes and encourages business investments by providing the research and development assistance, a regulatory framework, and industry support for enterprises to provide battery replacement, refurbishment or even battery upgrades for EVs in New Zealand. The intention and way to develop this service should be signalled as soon as possible to give confidence to prospective purchasers and policy makers that EVs will indeed deliver their promised environmental benefits. For many early adopters, the material waste and environmental impact concerns surrounding batteries far outweigh the financial implications of having to maintain or replace them. However, we cannot expect the same discounting of financial penalties from battery costs for the next wave of EV adopters. The government is apparently currently considering financial subsidies for EVs (https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/09/government-promises-decent-incentives-for-electric-cars.html), including feebates as recommended by the Productivity Commission (https://www.productivity.govt.nz/inquiry-content/3254?stage=4) and by many EV owners in an earlier 1-click survey (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/financial-incentives-to-accelerate-ev-uptake-1-click-survey-22/). This latest 1-click survey suggests that any financial incentives, be they delivered by feebates or direct subsidy, should be paid for battery replacements or refurbishment as well as for purchase of whole vehicles when first imported.
Securing support for battery services for new and second-hand EVs arriving into New Zealand from now on is one important part of securing EV uptake. However, we also urgently need battery support for those EVs already in New Zealand if they are not to become a stranded cohort of vehicles that are prematurely scrapped.
Provision of battery services would also help bolster a potentially critical lack of supply of EVs by making second-hand imports environmentally and financially sound investments for New Zealanders. Accelerating sale of new EVs in New Zealand will also reduce reliance on second-hand EVs, at least in the longer run when the new imports are on-sold in New Zealand. We are the only country in the world attempting a major transition to electric transport based mainly on cheap second-hand imports and without major financial incentives for buying electric (https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/09/calls-for-government-to-incentivise-owning-electric-cars.html). This will delay the arrival of the new and improved EV technology to New Zealand and puts our uptake trajectory at risk from market forces that may strangle supply.
New EV sales will greatly help futureproof uptake, but the new EV market faces considerable economic challenges. Strong subsidisation of manufacturers may be needed for them to supply new EVs here, especially when the demand for EVs is ramping up so strongly in other countries and incentives are provided in those other markets. New Zealand’s vehicle market is small and requires right-hand drive vehicles (most production of EVs is for Right-hand traffic flow and so needs left-hand drive vehicles). Some respondents to this survey wondered why an automotive manufacturer would want to support cheap imports that compete with unsubsidised and expensive new EVs.
Analysis of this survey and your feedback leave us all with some unsettling questions for future debate and research, and perhaps subjects of future 1-click surveys:
- Can New Zealand’s transition to low-emission transport be timely and successful if it relies mainly on second-hand EV imports?
- Will second-hand EV imports be more financially and environmentally beneficial than similar second-hand combustion vehicles, or even new combustion vehicles, if battery replacement and refurbishment services are not provided for the EVs?
- Can an adequate supply of affordable new EVs be secured for New Zealand to achieve a net carbon zero economy by 2050?
- Does adequate supply of EVs for New Zealand demand inclusion of a large proportion of second-hand EV imports in our low emissions fleet?
- If second-hand EVs are needed to meet demand, how can ongoing maintenance and servicing of them be ensured if the car’s manufacturer is not prepared to fully support them once landed in New Zealand by third parties?
- Is the Consumer Guarantees Act fair on second-hand EV importers and distributers and an adequate safeguard for EV adopters if the EV’s manufacturer is not prepared to take full responsibility for the maintenance and repair services or fixing original faults at manufacture until the end of those vehicles’ lives.
- What type and level of financial incentives for purchasing EVs and their replacement batteries are needed?
- How should any such financial incentives be apportioned between new and second-hand cars, and between whole car purchases and replacement batteries, to ensure that an adequate supply of both new and second-hand EVs is available in New Zealand?
- How can any regulatory and financial interventions be designed to ensure that the new and second-hand import industries work together rather than against each other to achieve the fastest and most financially and environmentally beneficial transition to low emission transport in New Zealand?
Your comments in detail:
Below is a lightly edited and re-arranged selection of many of the comments received.
The battery is the heart of the EV
“The car is the battery” ● “The people I speak to all ask “how much is a new battery” as they see the life of the vehicle as the life of the battery” ● “The state of health of our battery is degrading and the car will eventually be useful for fewer and fewer trips. It is the *only* component in the car that is ageing, and the only part (apart from tyres) that need replacing to keep it running like new” ● “An EV will be worthless if you cannot get a replacement battery” ● “The battery is the heart of the EV”
The battery wears out fastest and so sets the lifespan of the EV
“Apart from tyres, brakes and windshield wipers there is not much else to replace from a wear and tear point of view which means the bodies should last a long time and therefore be so much more sustainable in the long term” ● “In a few years time I will need to replace the battery but the car will not have lived out its life by then” ● “Many 1st generation mass market EVs will easily outlast their batteries … to extend their useful life – replacement upgraded battery options are essential” ● “Replacement batteries for older and smaller range cars will be needed if we are to avoid the situation that we scrap a good shell as it is cheaper to buy a new car rather than a new battery” ● “It is essential that the battery replacement price is as low as possible to keep the fleet away from the scrap yard!” ● “Most EV batteries will not last The Life of the car” ● “EV drive trains should last a very long time. Being able to replace the battery ensures owners can get the benefit of the life of the other parts of the vehicle”
Battery capacity sets the range and usefulness of the EV
“As the batteries age, the range will reduce so being able to replace the batteries affordably will make the initial investment in the EV a better choice” ● “Everything about the Leaf is wonderful except the range anxiety. I’d rather like to turnover every few years to keep up to date but don’t want to sell someone a vehicle with much reduced range” ● “My car traction battery is down to 69% SOH and an effective range of 75 – 80 km. It is still great for daily commuting and around the city driving. I live in Christchurch. I can drive to Akaroa but have to charge in Little River going and returning adding well over an hour to the return trip. I can drive to Amberly but have to charge before returning. I haven’t been able to drive to Darfield because there is no charger for the return journey, although I hope this might be rectified this month. An upgraded battery with double the range would transform this car and allow me to dispose of my old ICE Honda Jazz which I have had to retain for out-of-town trips” ● “Our 2011 leaf is down to 10 bars. Its travel distance at open road speed would maybe be 70km? Round town it’s fine because the longest trip would be 30km, but this low range really reduces the niche it can fill to replace an ICE. The body etc is fine, but if the range keeps dropping it will make it a car without a motive power. Not very useful” ● “Our leaf is at the edge of my 90km daily commute but I bought a 24 instead of 30kw model due to the issues around 30kw models at the time. When my commute is no longer possible, I will have to upgrade the battery or buy a 30kw. I’m counting on new batteries being easily available” ● “Range goes down fast on open road and if I am to travel out of town I have to spend more time sitting at a rapid charger than driving” ● “The battery SOH is the greatest threat to ensuring our cars remain fit for purpose for us early adopters. I purchased an 11 bar vehicle and now note it has 9 bars after 18 months and 30 000 kms in my possession. I love the car but wonder at what battery SOH and how long it will be until through normal battery degradation makes it no longer fit for purpose even though the rest of the vehicle is in great condition” ● “The lifetime of a vehicle is typically in the range 15 – 20 years. The lifetime of the Li-ion battery used in my Leaf has not yet been fully established but is likely to be around 8 years. So, unless there is some provision for a replacement battery the car will be worthless after that time” ● “I was in the aircraft industry and all things on aircraft wear out normally at an acceptable level, then that item is replaced. My Leaf, as an example, has had only servicing cost to keep my new car warranty. To use the aircraft analogy this vehicle should way outlast any other vehicle because of its simplicity, as long as you are willing to accept the limitations of your particular vehicle. If I use it around town with a stuffed battery I’ll still be able to use it. It won’t have the range but I don’t need range. Yes I also have a late model diesel ute to go places in” ● “At some time in the future batteries will require replacement, but that depends on just how far the remaining life will travel. Anything below 100 km would cause me to seek a replacement, or trade up to a later model” ● “The feedback we are getting, in Auckland from our customers when they drive our courtesy car, is that the most important issue is not being able to drive a far enough distance in the Leaf, [so reducing range] might mean that a second car is required for this type of travel”
A real concern for prospective buyers
“Without that part of the supply chain, the EV fleet will dwindle and die for most owners or never be taken up by those on the fence” ● “I cannot think of any bigger single barrier to sustained uptake” ● “The question about replacement batteries is one of the most often asked when we talk to people about electric cars” ● “Clearly potential purchasers of EVs need the assurance that the power source in their vehicle can be replaced when required, at an affordable price” ● “Someone buying a car 2 years old will figure that there are 6 years to figure out the battery replacement issue. But if the car at the good price point is already 6 years old (and the warranty on battery is 8 years) then the perception is that 2 years ‘remaining battery life’ is not much life, and creates unease if there is no replacement option” ● “Until we can guarantee the supply of affordable replacement batteries, many buyers will delay buying EVs and you have to admit that that’s a sensible and financially sound choice when you don’t know for sure how long the battery will last and whether you can buy a new one to give your car a second life” ● “I would like to be able to make a decision as to by a new electric or recondition the old electric” ● “In conversation with ICE users the question which always comes up is “What do you do when the battery reaches the end of its useful life” ● “It is important to have a reliable, inexpensive source of batteries to encourage late adopters” ● “It is the first thing people say when you tell them you have an EV – “How long does the battery last?” and ”I hear they are really expensive to replace” ● “It was the very first question I asked when I was thinking about buying my EV and it is the first question I am asked by others who are interested in buying one” ● “It’s the factor that will determine the useful life of the vehicle as it’s the only part that wears much” ● “The one thing everyone asks me (when I tell them you drive an EV) is: “what about the battery, isn’t that going to be really expensive to replace?” If the public could be reassured that EV batteries would become more affordable, then it would take the financial uncertainty out of long-term ownership of EVs” ● “Virtually everyone with whom I’ve discussed my Leaf has raised the hoary old question: “Yes, but how long will the battery last?”. Clearly this is at least as great a concern as range and the high initial cost” ● “Battery degradation being the main limit on range as these vehicles age means the cost of battery replacement will dictate the both the re-sale value of an aging EV and the uptake of new or near-new EVs coming into the market. i.e. to gain wide acceptance, new buyers of EVs must be reassured that a battery upgrade is both straightforward and affordable” ● “Battery replacement options is one of the most asked questions for new prospective EV owners. It’s going to be critical to have affordable options for battery replacement in order to get mainstream drivers into EVs” ● “New buyers would also feel like they were taking less risk”
… and concern is increasing
“Potential buyers will be increasingly conscious of this problem and less likely to purchase an EV”
Uncertainty undermines confidence
“The Unknown is not good for long term planning” ● “The uncertainty is a big obstacle to uptake” ● “Without knowing the cost of eventual battery replacements it’s not possible to calculate the long term total cost of EV ownership. This determines whether EVs are a good or bad long term investment from a financial standpoint” ● “For me I am happy with the status at present, my car has another 4-5 years before this comes up for consideration. Many people who are detractors, say, EV too expensive and what happens when batteries die. I say, that will be sorted in 4-5 years, but they need to see that there is some solution on the horizon” ● “People will be more secure if they think the battery can be serviced and part replaced / repaired I think” ● “Seems like a risk we shouldn’t have to take and I’m sure it puts others off”
People like to have options
“I put agree as I feel if there was an option for EV owners in regard to battery replacement options (depending on price) people might be more inclined to purchase an EV as they would know there would be an option if they wish to do down the road of replacing battery if their battery had degraded to a level they felt their vehicle was no longer fit to do the distances they required rather than trying to sell the vehicle and replacing with another EV that would do the range they required. People usually like to have options regarding many things in their life”
A need for replacement looms for some older EVs
“I will need a battery replacement/upgrade within the next few years, and I would like to do this rather than dump the car and buy a new car – but the economics need to stack-up” ● “limited range with a 24kWh battery that is already at 80% of the initial capacity means that we want to replace/ refurbish of preferably upgrade to a 40kwh battery ASAP” ● “The Nissan Leaf should last a lot longer than the batteries do. This means in a few years there could be a lot of 7 and 8 bar Leafs which require new batteries. I would happily buy another Leaf but my worry is I will have 2 useless cars in 3 or 4 years time” ● “I own a Leaf Gen1 with 8 bars – so yes this is getting more and more important to me ;)”
… but is a long way off for other EVs
“I’m worried about what will happen when my Leaf’s battery reaches the end of its life, but the car still has plenty of life in it! If this is a concern for me, I am sure it will be for many others” ● “I myself think EVs are a good long-term investment” ● “The concern over battery replacement appears to be a significant problem to non-EV owners, which will be affecting uptake. I am personally not too worried as I believe my battery has a good chance of out-living me!” ● “In the short term (up to 5 years) the issue is not so critical for me as my car is barely three years old but there needs to be an answer soon around the cost of replacement batteries” ● “Most owners will learn to live with decreasing battery capacity” ● “Hopefully I don’t have to replace the battery for another 8 years. So battery replacement isn’t a big concern” ● “too far down the road [this respondent chose 3, “Neither agree nor disagree”]”
A good market will emerge for replacing and refurbishing batteries
“At this stage even the earliest leaf haven’t really needed battery replacement yet. I think its most likely that the market for replacement batteries will develop as there are increasing numbers of EVs. It will likely develop fastest for the most common models” ● “Replacement parts are essential for any machine and parts availability/price is a worry for any early adopter. I expect the present shortfall in replacement battery production to be remedied by the massive worldwide investment in this industry. This will bring choice of manufacture and price competition” ● “That replacement batteries will become “sorted” in the future, once there is greater demand for battery replacement” ● “Battery replacement or servicing is inevitable. One way those services can become available is through the uptake of EVs, not the other way round” ● “Business interests will take care of the supply, if there is a demand. It’s very early days for a market to be created” ● “I think that by the time batteries need replacing there will be a market provided there are a significant more numbers of EVs in the country” ● “It’s very probable that small private business emerge that recondition or sell new battery packs for old EVs – just like it happened with the old Toyota hybrids”
A reducing problem because battery quality is rapidly improving and cost is falling
“This issue will also fall away significantly as battery sizes increase, as we’re seeing now. Based on that idea, I don’t think that battery replacement is a valid requirement for EV uptake, I think that it will become equivalent to range anxiety which will fall by the wayside as knowledge of EVs builds within the wider community” ● “the quality of the batteries will be improving. We all know that the Leafs are experiencing quite a bit of degradation but I hear some pretty good things about the resilience of the Tesla batteries (by the way can I see somewhere the SOH of the FlipTheFleet Teslas?). I am hopeful that good batteries should be able to last for what is considered the normal lifespan for a car (not saying that we shouldn’t try to keep car for longer than that on the road!)” ● “it would still be great to see the cost of batteries decline significantly, and the range on a full charge start routinely hitting 400-500km. Tesla has shown the way, let’s hope the trickle down becomes a torrent” ● “Technology moves at such a rapid pace that by the time I would be looking for a new battery they will have improved and dramatically” ● “It’s good knowing the price of replacing batteries is getting cheaper but the day to day savings on running costs is the main reason for buying the EV” ● “Most people (non-EV-owners) I have spoken to cite range anxiety over battery replacement cost. It didn’t figure unduly for me, I assumed that the battery would last a long time, and that by the time it needed replacing the cost would be a lot lower” ● “We expect replacement costs to reduce substantially over the next 5 – 10 years” ● “When you purchase a car it’s normally 100% in new condition, as things age it’s natural for a car to age and the value to decrease. As EVs’ values decrease more will be purchased” ● “With the improvement in battery technologies on the horizon, I believe that the current tech batteries will be moved along to second lives as solar storage or other uses once they become too depleted for EV use. Newer technologies appear to be able to provide longer range, longer life and with less weight” ● “I think battery replacement used to be a threat, but I think those days have gone due to current battery reliability/longevity, EV tech, and the stats we are seeing globally for EV battery life”
Batteries are getting bigger, so range degradation will be less of a worry soon
“As battery size increases (eg. Kona 60kWh) the battery is likely to last the life of the car” ● “Not saying economic replacement batteries aren’t important, but a well-developed highly available Quick-charger network is more critical at this point. This might reduce once most vehicles have batteries that provide >250km range on one charge”
Replacing damaged batteries is also a worry
“I still do not know the answer. What if my battery was damaged in an accident. Where do I go to get it replaced? Are 24kw batteries still being made? How much will it cost? Would love some answers”
Replacements for individual failed cells and modules are needed
“Obviously battery health and battery life expectancy are big questions when buying an EV. If a cell(s) should fail, can we get prompt service/replacement? When the battery expires, will replacement batteries be readily available at a reasonable price?” ● “The EV’s range and battery SoH is set by its weakest cell, and individual cells can burst or self-discharge. It would be a real shame if failure of a single sell forced replacement of an otherwise healthy battery pack” ● “”Our Car should satisfy our daily transportation needs for at least 6 years by then if we continue our behaviour we would buy a new used car – however we consider the idea of keeping this car for 20 years and I hope to find a used later model battery (most likely out of a wreck) to use the modules to keep it going (hopefully installed by a local professional in 6 years)”
A PR disaster looms
“The moment that people need a new battery and are unable to get one is when there will be a PR disaster – at which moment I fear that sales at that end of the market will stall, killing the momentum that is currently building. So yes – it is critical that a replacement battery process exists on the ground, not just in theory”
… or maybe more a perception problem?
“While it may not be a real problem to the extent imagined by the masses, it’s what the masses seem to focus on. With a population of imported Nissan Leafs securing an affordable option to replace these old batteries is important to 1) keep these assets in use and 2) minimise the hit to reputation that may damage uptake in the future” ● “Current and potential owners get the statements from naysayers that batteries cost a fortune to replace, that they are non-recyclable and are much worse for the emissions and cost over their lifetime than ice vehicles. If we are to convert more people to EVs then we need to debunk their arguments and cheaper battery replacement would go a long way towards that” ● “There’s a lot of angst (I believe) about this topic, much of it misinformed (in my opinion). As an example, to replace the batteries in a 2010 Toyota Prius with 187000km on the odometer will cost about $4000. Toyota guaranteed the batteries for 5 years when I bought it new, subsequently extending that to 7 years. We are now heading into the 9th year, and the batteries are still going fine. When you think of the fuel saved over this time, the cost of the replacement batteries does not seem so exorbitant” ● “We Disagree because we understand that many of these batteries are going to have a real-world operational life of 10 or even 20 years in some cases. (for example, we could easily cope with 50% capacity to meet our daily commuting needs)” ● “Certainly, we’ll need affordable replacement batteries sometime in the next 5 years or so. However, from watching conversation on EV Facebook groups, it seems like the real issue is that prospective EV owners are *worried* that they’ll need new batteries, far before the actual issue arises. People buying 90% SOH 2014 Leafs, asking “what am I gonna do about the battery, I need to drive 60km a day” – they don’t realise it’ll be ten years before they even need to adjust their driving patterns. So, I think the issue is more around perception and understanding, rather than an actual requirement for new batteries” ● “When I was buying my EV I was worried about the replacement cost of batteries (and it’s still an Issue) but then I realised that if my EV’s range ended up being too small for my use then it might still be Ok for someone else. So rather than replacing the battery I could sell the car and buy a new one thereby saving the cost and labour of a battery replacement. Unfortunately, not all potential EV buyers will see it that way, so cheaper replacement batteries are still important” ● “The battery replacements are part of the folklore that petrol heads use for an excuse. The uptake of EVs is more influenced by purchase price…. If you are looking to spend more than 10k on a car a BEV stacks up as better than a traditional car”
… or not even a real problem?
“Batteries have a good life as already documented. The issue with the 30kWh leaf has been sorted. Batteries are lasting a long time with great range, and there is already a second hand replacement option available as the oldest 24kWh Leafs start to lose significant range” ● “I disagree with the statement because we’re already way ahead of having to worry about battery replacement. While it might have been an issue with early-generation EVs, the 2017 and 2018 generations now come with extensive and long-term warranties for the battery. Most people will likely trade in or sell their EVs long before battery degradation or replacement becomes an issue, so by now it’s more of a myth rather than a necessity. I can understand why sceptics like the battery replacement argument as an excuse, and I guess many people still misunderstand EV battery technology, thinking that the battery needs to be replaced regularly, just like the ones in their TV remote or their kid’s toy car. But we don’t really worry about the batteries in our mobile phones anymore, and that is the way we should think about EV batteries, too.” ● “Batteries are lasting much longer than predicted” ● “Batteries have been shown to last a lot longer than first thought” ● “For EVs to replace a large number of NZ’s vehicles, they need to be cheap. Many of the cheap cars come from auction in Japan: the supply limitation there is likely to be the biggest problem. Second is range anxiety from non-EV owners (and therefore the availability of fast chargers). Replacement batteries comes, IMHO, a poor third. I expect my Leaf battery to need replacement at around 15 years of age. I’d consider a combustion car of around that age suitable for scrap” ● “I’m not worried about battery degradation. EV is still useful with low range” ● “The battery is not a worry for me as I know it will last a long time. Even at SOH 50% it will do the job for me. At maybe 40% I might look at replacing some of the weaker cells and if there are no available modules, I’ll sell my Leaf to someone who drives 20 kms a week or to someone who is looking at battery storage tech” ● “We bought one unaware of the battery supply issues, and still feel relaxed about it, because we feel we have a lot of time before we will need one and it will be sorted out by then. It’s not as if the car is going to stop working. We’ll just have to top up more often” ● “Batteries last for years and even a half worn out Leaf has enough range for most NZers commute” ● “The traction batteries in the dominant models of electric vehicle at present are lasting a lot longer than expected. They are slowly decreasing in range capability but that doesn’t mean that people will choose to replace the batteries. More likely people will not bother with that expense and complication but will on sell the car to owners who have shorter travel requirements between recharges”
Owners have bought on faith that a battery replacement service is coming
“We’re taking a punt that this problem is solved before it affects us” ● “While I have taken a leap of faith myself in buying an EV with the expectation that when my battery does need replacement options will be available the general buying public needs more certainty now” ● “I purchased my EV expecting that affordable replacement batteries would be available within 5 years. If replacement batteries are not available, my next vehicle won’t be an EV” ● “This was the biggest hold up preventing me from buying an EV for the last few years. I am still concerned about having a replacement option, and i kind of took a gamble jumping in without a clear solution. I know when I talk about owning an EV with others who don’t, this is one of the first questions always asked” ● “I believe that the people who are concerned about the possibility that they will have to spend 5k approximately every 5 years have cost as their focus. Having a supply of readily available and affordable batteries would be a huge benefit for current EV owners as this would extend the life of their vehicles. However, current owners have already taken the leap and are converted. Therefore, I don’t think having batteries available affects the uptake of EVs by potential purchasers [respondent chose ‘4’ – disagree]”
Batteries are not the only barrier to uptake
“I don’t think that battery replacement is THE most important issue. I think bigger batteries for longer range and price of EVs are equally important” ● “I think EVs being more affordable in the first place ranks higher, but battery replacement is really up there!” ● “I’m more concerned with govt charges to use my car, e.g. road user charges. We still need taxes to keep our roads usable….. If we don’t destroy our planet first” ● “The main reason I hear [for not buying EVs] is range fear and price which is why I didn’t choose “strongly agree” ● “I agree, but not strongly agree. Battery replacement is not the most important factor but is needed for some potential buyers to give them confidence that their investment will not deteriorate fast with battery degradation” ● “I think it is one of many factors, but did not limit my purchase” ● “Probably not the MOST important as subsidies, charging infrastructure etc are also critical” ● “Being able to replace batteries is important and it would be great to have a supply. But I don’t think it is a critical threat to the uptake of EVs. I think there is still a lot of ignorance around them which stops the uptake, including the ignorance around what happens when you lose a battery bar. The price point of a Leaf is still the biggest threat to uptake in my opinion” ● “I feel this is really important but may be a slightly more long term issue. Some of the more critical shorter-term issues may be around initial outlay costs (and the need for subsidies) and the coverage of charging infrastructure. Is this extensive enough and will the number of places be enough to support a growing fleet” ● “I think a low/comparable up-front cost is the main factor affecting uptake. Other factors in some order: safety, looks, range, size” ● “I think it is one of the factors but would rank below charging concerns such as continued support on a network and availability of quick charging” ● “lack of incentives or subsidies for EVs is possibly a bigger threat” ● “I think that replacement batteries are a factor but not the singular biggest threat to EV take-up. The future introduction of road user charges, lack of government subsidies and incentives, cost and availability of public charging networks will all have an effect. Also, as older cars start losing range, they will attract bad press but, if replacement batteries are available at a good price, then this should counter that. Of course, as more vehicle options come to the market with greater range then we get closer to the tipping point” ● “I think the most critic barrier is purchase price. There is still a significant premium on the cost of equivalent EV vs ICE cars” ● “It is a threat but I baulk at agreeing to the “most critical” part” ● “People that talk to us about EVs say the range is their main concern, then battery replacement. They are also conservative and are scared of change. They are familiar with petrol” ● “I believe the biggest hurdle to widespread take-up is the inconvenience of having to recharge after 1 or 2 hours driving. There are also concerns about what happens when there is a power cut. So an EV for a single car family can be a bold choice. Plug-in hybrids, or range extended EVs may be the answer for many NZers – resorting to liquid fuels on long trips or unplanned events” ● “We need replacement batteries, but range and cost are king” ● “While Affordable replacement batteries is important, Vehicle purchase price VS ICE and driving range between charges are equally important” ● “While I agree that lack of availability of replacement batteries is a threat, I don’t believe it’s the most critical threat. I think there are a number of things, like availability of different models, and price that are larger issues at the moment” ● “I chose Neither Agree nor Disagree, because I think there are lots and lots of reasons against uptake. Lots of people don’t live where they can charge, they drive too far, the cost benefit analysis doesn’t make it worthwhile, it is too unknown, they worry what would happen if they break down/run out of electrons. It is all too unknown. The range of an affordable EV car is too small, no one recommends getting a car on finance, and most people don’t have 20 grand sitting around” ● “Adequate network of rapid charge points is more important I think, but then I’m no expert” ● “Although it is an issue I don’t believe it is the most “Critical”. The high price of new EVs in NZ is still the most “Critical” issue to sustained uptake. Typically, they are double the price of the equivalent ICE version of the vehicle which is beyond average purchasers” ● “Features are getting better eg: range, but entry price has seen little movement” ● “An affordable, reliable, source of replacement batteries does need to be investigated but we don’t think that this is the *most* critical threat to EV uptake. Ignorance of options and FUD reporting from media and media personalities is more of a threat to sustained EV uptake” ● “As much as it would be desirable to have the ability to refurbish the batteries I don’t see it as the major inhibition to uptake which is more to do with affordability and lack of reliable and plentiful infrastructure” ● “The density, availability, and reliability of DC chargers is a much bigger issue and created uncertainties when going on longer trips” ● “Apart from [batteries] – charging infrastructure [is a barrier]. We’re starting to see a lot more people complaining about having to wait for cars – especially inconsiderate ones. Charging etiquette isn’t automatic, and we need to do something to help new EV drivers understand what they can do to be more considerate of everyone else around them” ● “Having replacement batteries available is important, but it is not critical for the uptake of EVs in my opinion. For sustained uptake, the general public needs to be aware that EVs are a viable choice. I defined ‘viable’ in this instance as 1) expected driving distance (requires education), 2) sufficient fast chargers to counter range anxiety, and 3) incentives to make EVs more affordable” ● “I think the main issue for having more uptake is increasing the availability of charging stations. It is too much of a lottery at the moment – will there be an available charging station when I need one? The pretty limited number of locations, variety of plugs and too few rules on how long people can use charging stations for mean it is too hard to be able to rely on a charger being available” ● “I don’t think replacement batteries is the biggest problem, the main issues are the range, and the mis-information about EVs that is constantly in the media, including the exaggerated (in my opinion) concern about whether our electricity grid can cope with increased uptake and charging of EVs” ● “I think that a bigger threat to sustained uptake of EVs is entrenched conservatism amongst car buyers. They can’t bear the thought that they have to change the way they think about driving. They have been so indulged by readily available, cheap petrol, that they expect to be able to behave in the same way for ever” ● “I think the biggest barriers to EV uptake is people are worried about range, and ability to drive in power outage” ● “I think the main hurdle to uptake will remain concern for range and perceived hassle/fear/uncertainty about charging out of town when on a road trip. Nevertheless, as us early adopters have our cars longer and longer the degeneration of our batterie will be watched by potential new EV drivers. So I don’t think battery replacement is not an issue, I just don’t think it will ever be the main barrier” ● “I think the reason people are slow to buy EVs is because they are expensive and also because they think it will be hard to charge on long trips. i.e. range anxiety” ● “What’s more important is what recharge network is in place. What keeps people from buying a EC is what recharge options are there, how far can I go, will I run out of battery!” ● “The biggest factors for uptake to EVs are price and range. Range will come with new models over the next few years, more needs to be done to bring the price down. Even a rebate on the GST paid for an EV would help” ● “The cost of EVs is the most important factor. Then it’s anxiety and concerns usually related to lack of knowledge (or misunderstanding, e.g. most people I speak with do not know they can charge EVs at home, only at charging stations; worrying over losing power if stuck in traffic, much like petrol cars). I would say that availability of replacement batteries is lower down the list of main barriers for potential buyers but higher on the list for current EV owners” ● “The most limiting cause is the lack of political desire to provide NZ citizens with financial incentive to purchase an EV. The huge capital cost is a large barrier to entry for the average New Zealander” ● “the reason I disagree is that charging infrastructure (starting with main highways) is more important – replacement batteries is only important long term!!” ● “The up-front cost of an EV is the most limiting factor in the uptake of EVs” ● “A more critical threat might be the supply of electricity, or supply of cars” ● “I think the big blockers are actually range, EV upfront cost, and, to a lower extent charging infrastructure”
Barriers multiply each other, but the solution for one helps the other
“Having a replacement battery available in 10 years is vitally important to sustainably maintaining what is an otherwise a very low-maintenance vehicle. But what good is a replacement battery if I’m limited to the few locations where I can fast charge? Even a severely degraded battery is useful for short distances. Fast-chargers should be available at every petrol station, or freely available as a public service at generator sites (such as the Brooklyn turbine). I shouldn’t have to carefully plan a long-distance trip around the location and potential (un)availability of fast chargers. Removing one barrier helps alleviate the other” ● “We haven’t given any thought to replacing the battery. Even a car with reduced range will have a practical use as a town/city car. And with more and more public chargers being installed, the range is extended for trips and we won’t need such a healthy battery” ● “As the charger network fills in, shorter range EVs will become even more feasible then they are at the present”
EV benefits outweigh the battery risks for some people
“While I think replacement batteries are important, I don’t think it is defining EV ownership. My impression is that current owners are largely buying EVs because they think or feel it is good for the environment and earth” ● “My main thoughts were the sooner I got into an EV the sooner I would be making a difference to global emissions”
It’s a worry for second-hand imports in particular
“I don’t see a problem for EVs bought new from NZ distributors – they will sort it. It’s the second-hand market that needs to be covered” ● “I have taken a risk in switching to an EV. Battery life is something of an I known quantity as is the availability of replacement batteries for EV models which are not yet sold in NZ by the manufacturers” ● “We are a second-hand vehicle economy which makes it significant but technology movement will require us to reduce vehicle life so not critical”
It’s part of a bigger problem of back-up service needs for EVs
“The only way EVs will grow is to have good backup on parts and service” ● “There’s no point having a car, any car, that you can’t get parts for and the EVs are useless without a useable battery” ● “We need a realistic supply of replacement batteries so we can keep our battery pack maintained and in a ‘healthy’ state” ● “You have to have access to all spares in order to provide sustainability and surety for people to make the necessary investment without having the fear that you could be throwing good money down the drain. The environmental benefits of this technology is one of the keys to coping with climate change” ● “We should have systems in place where replacement batteries are available for all popular models brought into the country”
It’s a particular problem in New Zealand
“I am aware my battery will deteriorate someday and it is one concern- that the battery is not easily replaceable here in NZ” ● “Potential EV purchasers need assurance that their purchase can be affordably repaired” ● “Being a water-locked Island in the Pacific Region also poses a challenge when needing to replace batteries and so a supply here in NZ is essential”
Import and safety issues must be sorted out
“In the next decade, the oldest EVs in NZ will start to require full battery replacements… by then, hopefully someone – maybe even car dealerships – will start to work in this space & sort out all the required import & safety issues”
Batteries replacements are part of a long-term expectation
“It gives you more confidence in the longevity of your investment and better for the environment” ● “It is a reasonable expectation for a vehicle buyer or owner that their vehicle should be able to be serviced and its significant components maintained or replaced, if required, for the duration of its roadworthy life. In the case of an EV, it is reasonable to expect that the body, electrics, motor and transmission are designed and built to provide an economic service life of 15-20 years and 100’s of thousands of kilometres running. The traction battery service life is a critical element of this and as such must be able to be supported by importers and/or manufacturers and/or independent 3rd party agents” ● “[availability of battery replacements] is not a massive deal but impacts people’s long term decision making” ● “It’s usually the first question asked about long-term maintenance” ● “Total cost of ownership calculations could be more favourable if replacement batteries were available”
… but others are thinking of shorter-term ownership
“Most people don’t keep cars for the (supposed) 8-10 year life of modern batteries. So, may not consider replacement of the battery as a critical consideration when buying an EV (it certainly wasn’t for me)”
We don’t know enough about battery longevity yet
I” think we don’t have enough information on what happens to batteries when they’re 15-20 years old+ to know for sure yet” ● “Apparently the battery life of current EVs is unknown as so few have failed or ‘worn out’. The estimate for replacement is around ten years from what I read. In the next ten years we can expect big advances in EV technology and especially battery technology. I tend to not worry about things that are so far into the future [Respondent chose ‘4’ – disagree]”
Affordability is needed for mass EV uptake
“Presently many people will not consider purchasing an EV because they know that the battery will eventually be exhausted and the replacement cost is more than the cost of a basic but economical and reliable internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. That is assuming a replacement battery will even become available. Those of us that HAVE purchased an EV are simply living in hope that time will allay our fears and we will be able to keep our EVs going without having to buy a whole new vehicle simple because it needs a new battery. If I did have to buy a new EV for this reason I would definitely give a second thought. Just the wastage of scrapping an otherwise perfectly good car would irk me. Generally speaking, throughout history the uptake of new technologies has been taken up primarily because it’s economically beneficial for people to do so. There may be some of us who can afford to do the right thing for the environment but if this EV movement is to gain sweeping uptake it needs to be affordable for the masses. If replacement batteries are too expensive those at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum will never buy an EV” ● “Probably more relevant to people buying older models at a cost affordable price were the batteries are getting down in SoH” ● “The current high cost of electric cars excludes lots of car owners. When owners of the current vehicles’ batteries lose their range and are traded in/sold, they will be then bought at lower cost by those who could not afford the initial high cost. But when battery life is done, the high cost of battery replacement will mean the dumping of vehicles which with a new battery still have a long life ahead” ● “Without replacement batteries in a few years we will have a lot of money sitting idle in the garage” ● “As EVs start to show more battery degradation, the cost benefit of buying an older EV and replacing the battery becomes too costly, so the vehicle will become useless to potential buyers. The only way to enter the market would be by an EV that would only be useable for a couple of years, or to spend upwards of $25k to buy a vehicle that will last 8-10 years. Whereas with current ICE vehicles, older vehicles are still able to be resold at a much lower price bracket” ● “Considering the cheapest EV is the Leaf, it will be the most likely to be adopted by lower income groups So having an economic way of replacing/upgrading batteries on older models will allow greater uptake for all” ● “To ensure that the vehicles have max possible lifespan and then can be an affordable option to lower income families” ● “Range/affordability ratio more important for the foreseeable future”
The car will devalue faster than the battery
With modern cars made to last only ten years and improvements in EV’s, I expect my car will devalue faster than the battery.
It’s a sustainability issue
“We are against the “throw away mentality” ● “The environmental sustainability of battery replacement has huge potential to either add to or detract from the overall green credentials of EVs” ● “It would be equivalent to writing off an ICE vehicle because the petrol tank is too small. That would clearly not be a sustainable model” ● “For a vehicle to be a sustainable option the greater part of needs to have a long long life- so being able to replace the battery once it degrades is critical. I don’t want to end up with the auto version of a single use plastic bag!” ● “EV is must be sustainable, not written off at 5 to 7 yrs” ● “Supposedly EVs are ecology friendly. It would be totally ridiculous to throw away a car just because the battery has reach the end of its useful life. That would waste all the energy and resources which was used to produce that car” ● “The batteries should not only affordable, but reliable for many years, so we don’t dump the cars to waste, while still in good state to use, for battery reasons” ● “We love our car – it’s meeting all of our needs apart from range – it seems ridiculous to scrap it just because one component no longer performs the task it needs to due to wear. You don’t throw out an ICE vehicle when the engine fails” ● “Because the engine in EVs can potentially last a very long time, I would like to replace the battery in 7 years’ time rather than buying a completely new vehicle. This seems to add to the sustainability value of EVs” ● “Cost of petrol has never been an issue for us when deciding for an EV. We bought for environmental reasons. We knew that the battery will slowly degrade but we knew that there will have to come a solution for that. If it does not come, or if it is not affordable, people may just dump the EVs after they are not usable anymore?” ● “I hope to be able to keep my Leaf for many years, and battery replacement will become a reality over the next 5 years (like many other owners of 2nd hand Japanese imported Leafs). I want to own a car sustainable not only in terms of its current battery power, but also for the longer term with a sustainable and economic battery replacement service” ● “We don’t emphasise enough that EVs offer a whole new model of vehicle ownership i.e. they will last way longer than conventional cars if we can replace the batteries from time to time. People are claiming that a Tesla will go a million miles before it would be due for scrapping! The low repairs and maintenance costs, smooth ride, computer smarts and reduced number of moving parts will make them age slowly. It would be a travesty if we have to scrap perfectly good 2011 Leafs in a couple of years simply because we haven’t got ourselves organised to replace the batteries. There is a lot of plastic and metal in the car, and lots of GHG emissions are expended to make the car in the first place. If we can double or triple the life of the car’s body, we can about halve the whole-of-life carbon footprint of the car even though we have to replace the batteries from time to time” ● “In order to have security that I can keep my car on the road without buying a whole new car is my reason. This is for cost to me but also cost to the environment of not having to produce as many new cars” ● “My car is relatively energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but only as long as it has an effectively functioning battery. If the battery is able to be replaced or refurbished at a reasonable cost, the energy efficiency continues. The battery if refurbished, is also environmentally friendly. The car itself continues to be used, without becoming an environmental problem. The cost is the key. If it is too expensive then both the old battery and the car itself become a recycling or disposal problem” ● “Part of sustainability is being able to make use of a vehicle for its natural life. Batteries are the weak link in an EV’s life. Being able to access an affordable replacement is essential” ● “Replacement batteries are key to the message of buying EVs that aren’t disposable – that we can invest in this technology and continue to benefit from improvements in this technology, that we can end the upgrade cycle and reduce our consumption” ● “The ability to either replace cells of the whole battery at a reasonable price is key to the ongoing viability and longevity of EVs otherwise they become scrap metal and plastic waste” ● “Full replacement looks very costly, but is crucial to sustainability of the car” ● “Replacement batteries will ensure EVs will not end in landfill prematurely” ● “Otherwise perfectly useful EVs will be written off if the cost of a replacement battery makes it uneconomic to refurbish” ● “Long term sustainable uptake will be affected by much more than the cost of replacement batteries”
Battery manufacture is not environmentally friendly
“I believe that batteries, along with use of unethically sourced precious minerals used to make these, are areas of contention with a lot of people, in NZ and beyond”
Battery replacement cost of around $5k would be affordable
“Second hand EVs from overseas are very affordable due in part to subsidies paid by foreign governments. The vehicles are modern and will last many years in Kiwi hands provided the batteries can be replaced for a reasonable price – i.e. $5,000” ● “recently I had my Mitsubishi serviced for a ‘range dropping dramatically’ and had a ‘cell smoothing and battery maintenance reset’. Casually I asked what is the cost of a new battery, and was told ‘about 5 to 6000 dollars’, but I was not assured that it could be obtained and as the car now worked well, I left it. I go for my next doctor’s certificate in April next year. If I am fit to drive for an other 2 years, I may get a new battery if the price is still the same” ● “Changing out a battery in 10 years time for say $5-8k is a big expense but still may be less than we were paying to service our old petrol car over that period. (Especially if we can reuse the battery at home thereafter with an inverter)” ● “Your question did not have a base line. US prices I believe for leaf are about $5000 us. Spread over 10-15 yrs is ok”
Battery replacements not yet evident
“I have not heard of any one needing to replace a battery. I will replace the car before it is 10 years old and with reduced capacity the battery will last that long” ● “So far none of the leaf models have needed a replacement battery. I’m fairly sure in 10 years when I need one there will be a supply or I’ll sell off the car and upgrade”
Lack of supply of EVs and their batteries
“I think there are two main threats to sustained EV uptake: inadequate supply of affordable EVs themselves, and an adequate supply of replacement batteries. While the government may, just may, introduce feebates to help erode the EV’s “sticker price”, this will have minimal effect on uptake if the supply of vehicles is not there (prices will just continue to climb and swallow up the feebate incentive). It seems to me that the EV product is so good and such a great fit to NZ conditions that they have and will sell themselves to many buyers. The excellent efforts of EECA, Better NZ Trust, Drive Electric, sympathetic media, ChargeNet NZ, providers of free rapid charging, EV World and Flip the Fleet have helped enormously too. The demand is now in place – it’s the supply that we need to secure next”. Lack of supply applies to replacement batteries as well as whole cars” ● “If [a battery replacement service] can be achieved, NZ can import many more EVs that overseas markets would reject due to low battery capacity” ● “supply is our key problem for sustained uptake of EVs” ● “There are a lot of 2011-2012 Leafs, many with low KM’s that would make great entry cars if new batteries could be obtained at a reasonable price” ● “[battery replacements are needed] to make 2nd hand EVs affordable” ● “Replacement batteries will eventually become important, but not in the near future. And where’s demand, there’s supply. It will sort itself out when needed. I don’t think it’s the most critical threat to EVs. Getting enough affordable new EVs to push out ICE cars is the biggest problem in my opinion”
Lack of supply may make battery price go up
“I believe I read that Nissan Leaf replacement batteries have actually significantly gone up in price (worldwide) rather than come down as we were to believe was going to happen from year to year”
Concern spurs battery care strategies
“People I have spoken to re EVs are put off them by the cost of replacement batteries. I too am concerned not only by the cost but by the (lack of) availability. I am extremely careful with battery charging, keep the temperature at not more than 5 bars and never use a public rapid charge unless it’s absolutely necessary during a trip that takes me more than about 90km from home” ● “I am confident in my car and its battery as long as I do everything I can to care for it properly and extend the battery life” ● “I’m confident my battery will last a whole [while longer] with good care”
The motor needs to last
“They are a bit of an unknown as is the motor. At the end of the battery’s life going to have enough life in it to do another cycle?
Repurposing: new uses for spent EVs?
“Maybe different thinking might bring change: repurpose old EVs for very short range duties like airport vehicles, onsite security, retirement villages etc.”
Repurposing: A second battery life
“Even the 1st gen Leaf is a brilliant car but its battery will not last as long as the usable life of the whole car. An affordable replacement battery and the re use of the old battery in second life home as electricity storage is a must for the EV revolution to really take hold” ● “It is important to me to be able to plan for the replacement of my main battery bank, not only because my current battery is 7 years old and due to end its useful life in three years, but because I would like to replace the Leaf’s battery now and use the old bank as a storage device for the PV cells I plan to install. I can then use the Leaf during the sunny days and transfer the charge to the car in the night” ● “Kitsets for adapting used batteries as house batteries not yet available” ● “I heard that old batteries can be resleaved or used as stationery batteries”
Battery refurbishment will be part of the solution
“I’m most excited at the prospect of being able to refurbish older batteries, though (something our mechanic is keen to look into), as that would reduce batteries/components going to landfill and should be cheaper than full replacement (better all round). Fingers crossed it can be done” ● “Affordable replacement is only one aspect of an aged/inefficient battery. Solutions to extending battery life will continue to evolve, without the need for a complete replacement. EVs are still only in their infancy re potential for conserving battery life!” ● “I think eventually batteries and EV cars will be common enough that there will be old and refurbished batteries available, and mechanics with the skills to replace them (instead of oil changes)”
Battery size can be upgraded as well
“I hope that the battery could be upgraded say 24Kw to 40Kw if that was possible who knows, battery technology is advancing rapidly” ● “Its a huge amount of resources going into making a vehicle, the rest of the car will last much longer. We don’t need new features other than increased range and most probably a replacement battery could have a bigger capacity than the original one had when new”
A need for end-of-life solutions
“Leafs are the most common EV vehicle in NZ and not having a solution after the end of a battery life is a game changer – the whole importing of electric cars will become a useless exercise for an eco-friendly country. Wreckers will have a lot of fun with storage of the useless leaf batteries” ● “I think there is always going to be pros and cons to internal combustion engines and EVs alike – however, we know all the ICE problems because they’ve been around for so long, the EV problems are just starting. Replacement batteries will be a problem, but also disposing or recycling old batteries will become a huge problem in time, just as ICEs pile up in junk yards. There is opportunity for NZ to get ahead of these problems, and lead the way like we often do” ● “As long as old batteries can be recycled or used usefully, any incentive for NZers to buy newer cars rather than hanging on to the old model seems useful for the average age of the fleet”
Fuel cells will be more sustainable
“I believe that the future for electric vehicles lies in the refillable fuel cell, probably hydrogen based. The impracticality of rechargeable batteries combined with the limited supply of lithium for present battery technology mean that the high waste throwaway approach of battery power is not sustainable. Focus must move from disposable to reusable; the world’s resources are finite”
High cost of the replacement battery and EV affordability
“Apart from the cost of buying an EV the cost of replacing a battery is a bit of a gulp” ● “Because of the high capital cost, we need cheaper and reliable batteries to offset the capital cost and make EV motoring cost effective” ● “Many of my friends are now regularly asking me about an affordable EV (where they mean around $10-15k). The Nissan leaf is the only affordable mass market car that fits the requirement. Generally, the car will be a 2012-2015 model at that price point. My friends can live with slightly reduced battery capacity – with a 90km range. But the question they always ask is: A car this old will have say 6 years of its battery life used up – are there replacement batteries available if it were to fail? And the answer right now seems to be No” ● “[affordable replacement batteries are needed] to be able to minimise road costs except for normal costs – reasonable tax, & registration & WOF & maintenance costs” ● “Most current motorists may be put off at the idea of having to spend out thousands on a battery – whilst maybe not taking into account that this is the only real maintenance expense they may face for an EV”
Battery replacement costs undermine savings from low running costs
“Hopefully it won’t be a problem for us before we can afford to replace batteries, or update our car, but it will have some impact on us, for sure…. and potentially undoes all the savings we make not having to do oil changes and so many brake pad replacements?” ● “If there is no affordable battery replacement for our iMiEV then we lose the benefit of using a small electric car which is a very economical car for urban transport” ● “it is the only fuel supply carrier for an EV, so you need a good replacement battery supply for the electric cars to grow and at affordable replacement cost”
Battery replacements should be subsidised
“We need more EVs on the road, the IPCC report gives us a last chance, we do not have much time, we need to adapt and quickly, batteries for solar and wind storage need to be subsidised and encouraged – now” ● “EVs have very long life, much longer than the batteries which power them, so it is essential that low cost replacement batteries are available. The government could help by removing the GST on them” ● “The government will be needed to provide a subsidy, perhaps part of the Feebate exchange of funds, to subsidise the cost of the replacement batteries. Our NZ market is small and weird on a world scale because it depends on the second-hand imports. There is no financial incentive for Nissan to help keep these orphans going once they are in NZ, especially if they bring in their new EVs soon and the second-hand cast-offs compete with those sales”
Resale value and market availability worries
“It will become a worry as the vehicles age if they have no resale value” ● “As the battery range decreases over time this makes the vehicle much less attractive for resale” ● “I am most concerned about the cost of replacement batteries for my car. My car has a terrible ‘trade in’ price due to the battery which now has only 10 bars. Replacement batteries need to be affordable and at this stage, they just aren’t” ● “It reduces range and resale value” ● “I would say this is one of the things that plays on my mind as a potential issue when it comes time for resale (who is going to want to buy a car with old batteries?). And, of course, old batteries give the likes of a 24kWh model even shorter travel distances” ● “It’s the most commonly cited failure, it is what would impact on my resale value most” ● “Sustained value in sticking with this EV is ability to avoid petrol price volatility/risk which is higher than electricity price risk. As range declines with battery health then the value of the car is discounted despite any loss of mechanical / physical state of the vehicle” ● “Too many times I get asked by “non-believers” what I will do when the car is not economical usable due to poor mileage. At this stage in New Zealand and I believe the rest of the world, the supply of replacement batteries is expensive and difficult. This has major downstream effects on the depreciation” ● “Without the ability to easily and affordably replace the traction battery, it will be difficult to sell older electric vehicles, and that will make for a restricted second-hand market”
“The leaf is and will be for some time going to be the most affordable and therefore most numerous EV available for the next 3 to 5 years. The cars themselves will still have plenty of life left in them long after the battery may be deemed no longer suitable due to poor capacity. A ready supply of refurbished and new replacement batteries will ensure the used Leaf is available as a replacement for lower cost smaller cars instead of importing more ICE vehicles” ● “But the reason I have a Leaf is they were the most readily available when I bought my car a year ago. Also, they are the best value for a full electric car” ● “Batteries are so important to EVs. People have a fear of them wearing out in less than 5 years. We have a 6-year old Nissan EV going well”
Importance of battery replacement varies between models
“I think replacement batteries will be a problem for some vehicle models. Some are trying to get the most range at the expense of battery degradation. Others are making the battery last the life of the car. In years to come we will see what car makers have done. Keep an eye on the dog and lemon guide” ● “The BMW i3 I now own has done 72000km over 3 years and 9 months, and the batteries are still 78% effective, which I am quite happy about” ● “According to BMW the battery should be good for 500,000 miles and will give service for many years. Leaf batteries have different problems but will likely be passed down to lower users i.e. retirees and housewives”
Most worries are about the Leaf’s batteries
“Besides the Leaf, there has been no strong evidence that battery longevity is a problem. I cannot imagine that many companies will sell EVs with no TMS going forward” ● “We are constantly checking State of Health and worrying about battery degradation. It means the end of the Leaf’s life if there is no affordable replacement batteries available” ● “Nissan NZ shows little interest in servicing used imports” ● “Nissan Leaf owners are hamstrung by Nissan’s irrational refusal to supply batteries at all for Japan import Leafs, and this is going to become a significant issue in coming years if not addressed early on” ● “I get ask about battery life and replacement all the time when people ask me about EVs. Replacement options for the leaf still seem very vague, even after Nissan making a big deal about opening them up to non-OEM suppliers” ● “Soon, the fleet of NZ EVs that is mostly made of Nissan Leafs will start to need replacement batteries and if they aren’t available or affordable, this will put some people off from the technology” ● “Currently, the early generation Leaf batteries are the ‘worst’ in terms of degradation. My 2011 has just hit 7 years old and still retains >70% of its battery capacity, with >100km of real-world range” ● “it’s realistic to expect that the Leaf will last beyond the age of a median car in the fleet while retaining enough range to continue having some value. Under this circumstance, a replacement pack may not be economically feasible when compared to replacing the vehicle with a newer model”
30 kWh Leafs may be hampered by battery over heating
“I want to be able to continue using my [30 kWh] Leaf for long distance travel, so I need a sustainable power battery that I can charge on a fast charger without the risk of degradation battery”
Thermal management of batteries will reduce the problem
Battery capacity fade is a real practical problem for the early EVs like Nissan that don’t have Thermal Management of the battery. The batteries’ life depends on keeping them cool, especially when fully charged. Nissan are one of the few companies that don’t thermally manage their batteries. So it’s mainly Leafs that have a big issue with early battery capacity fade and if New Zealand escapes its reliance on Leafs, especially second-hand ones, the battery longevity issue will be less important. That said, there appear to be some issues with Mitsubishi Outlander batteries too, and there is not a lot of battery monitoring and experience going on for other manufacturers’ models” ● “The batteries do degrade quickly in the Leaf and others. Replacement batteries are essential to justify the investment in a cheaper electric car without thermal battery management” ● “Also battery degradation is limited in EVs with good thermal management so this issue, in NZ, for Nissan Leafs mainly”
Plug-in hybrids give the best of both worlds
“We have always had luxury cars and the Mercedes-Benz C350e allowed us to enter the EV market albeit in plug-in hybrid form whilst still being able to enjoy the privilege of luxry car use and enjoyment. As we use this car mainly for town use most of our travelling is on battery. The first petrol fill up was after 3 months and nearly 1,000km so petrol use is low. We have another Mercedes-Benz for my business use and touring”
Will look-alike batteries get us out of a jam?
“Cheap look alike batteries made by third parties are not likely to be as reliable as the OEM ones, and a whole raft of homologation and safety issues arise if we don’t get Nissan to supply their own replacement batteries in NZ. Nor can the quality of these replacement batteries be assured. VIA have been making unsubstantiated claims that cheap replacement batteries will be available from Asia, but we need more surety than that”
Hiring or leasing batteries to reduce worry
“I believe one manufacturer was once supplying the batteries on an ongoing lease/hire basis – would this type of scheme help avert people’s fears?”
Education is needed
“I think the supply of affordable replacement batteries is a very important factor in the sustained uptake of EVs in NZ. However, I think the threat to uptake is more one of public perception than reality. Most ICE vehicle owners’ only experience of a battery is when their 9 volt battery suddenly dies. They don’t realize that EV batteries slowly degrade over years, and that they will still have 80% capacity after 5 years and probably at least 60% capacity after 10 years. A 10 year old ICE car is definitely no longer in pristine condition by any means. A public education effort to help potential buyers understand EV batteries will be very important. If the public realizes that the battery in a recent model EV will almost certainly give them sterling service for at least 7 years, and that at the end of that time a replacement battery will be available at a reasonable cost if required, that should allay most fears. If it is also pointed out that the EV will have saved them something like $17,000 in fuel and maintenance costs in that time (far more than the likely battery replacement cost), they may be even less worried. A secondary point is that their EV will have been upgraded in performance by the new battery, while the EV motor will still have at least 300,000 km to go…” ● “While the battery replacement may cause some worry education as to how long a battery will last and range anxiety are more important to convincing people that an EV is a viable alternative to current cars”
Manufacturers are not incentivised to replace or repair batteries and should be regulated
As long as car manufacturers produce vehicles with very limited lifespans, people will mostly end up buying new EVs once their old ones haven’t sufficient battery life left – I would imagine that car manufacturers are not too interested in supplying batteries for their old cars – they need to sell new ones” ● “The only way would be to force car manufacturers just like we currently do via the CO2 emissions reduction goals to build a modular car designed to be upgraded in the future with batteries, motors etc. as I doubt they change their business models voluntarily”
Mobilise the suppliers and politicians!
“I am happy to answer because it may help to put pressure on suppliers and politicians etc for change” ● “Innovations from industry growth should bring about many solutions for these issues, but the Government needs to be on board and assisting to ensure the framework is set up for the ever increasing fleet of EVs in NZ’s future” ● “I think the greatest threat to uptake is policy. If the government removes the exemption from RUC, it will create the perception that EVs are too expensive by comparison” ● “The most critical for sustained uptake is definitely not battery replacement, rather general govt position and mandate. Feebates, fleet purchases, govt depts, chargers, tax, etc. All else will follow”
Sorry, not our best wording!
“But to be clear, I don’t think “ensuring supply…” is a threat to uptake. The lack of supply is. I suggest you reword your question” ● “Impossible question to answer. Relative to what? Too many possible factors for me to make a call on whether this is the MOST important factor. It is very important for sure” ● “Unfortunately the question was not clear. ‘Ensuring’ supply cannot be a threat – rather it is an imperative. “Uncertain” supply certainly is a threat, although I am not sure if it is the greatest threat” ● “I strongly disagreed, because the question states <most critical threat>” ● “The wording of the survey question is a bit misleading – if anything then NOT ensuring supply might be a threat to EV uptake”
Dima Ivanov, Daniel Myall, Henrik Moller and Monica Peters
12 November 2018