What types of batteries do electric cars use?

Electric batteries are the great protagonists of current technology. Among them, those of electric cars may be the ones that generate the most debate, especially regarding how they can be given a second use and thus follow the logic of sustainability with which they were created. At the same time, electric cars work on the basis of several types of batteries, each one more distinctive (practically or ecologically speaking).

One of the main components of any electric vehicle is the battery. Its importance is such that the autonomy and the price of the car depend on the type and size of it. And it is that the evolution of electric cars is linked to that of their batteries. Without them, the very concept of these vehicles would be impossible. Thus, the innovation and constant development of these allows to have more and more efficient electric cars.

Batteries affect the weight and design of cars

The difference between the different types of batteries is remarkable and the future promises to be even more surprising when compared to current models. In its case, this energy accumulator stores electricity through electrochemical elements, a process with minimal losses that allows a performance close to 100%.

However, since the first electric cars emerged, in just over a century there has been a remarkable evolution of batteries. And it is that thanks to the great technological leap that they have taken in recent times, more and more vehicle manufacturers have decided to develop new models of electric cars.

This, in the best of senses, has been done because they incorporate different types that provide a type of technology in stopping each of the vehicles. These are part of a sophisticated system that, in addition to the cells themselves, includes their container, refrigeration, wiring and electronic management. The quality and characteristics of this system will not only depend on the performance of the car, but also on the weight or design . It is of great importance in autonomy, as well as in its durability, useful life cycles and charging possibilities.

Duration and characteristics

Having a good maintenance of it is essential, like everything that is an essential part of the car. Normally, its life depends on many factors, both use and weather. The battery is part of the periodic review of the car in which there is no fixed useful life, but depends on the manufacturer and the model in which it is installed.

As a general rule, they usually last about 8 years or 160,000km , with an average life time of around 3,000 charge cycles. The great advantage today is that they have become a highly consumed technology, which makes their prices much more accessible. In the same way, they are the main reason for the high costs of the vehicles.

These components of electric vehicles have specific characteristics. It depends on it that it is possible to mobilize the car depending on its autonomy. In them we find properties such as energy density , power or capacity, among others, which will be identified in each type.

  • Density . Determines the energy that electric car batteries are capable of storing and supplying.
  • Capacity . The number of amp hours (Ah) that a battery accepts. This amount is measured per kilowatt hour (kWh), which will be essential to determine the route you need.
  • Power .
  • Life cycle . The life cycle of electric car batteries refers to their charging and discharging time period. They generally have 3,000 full charge cycles. The higher the cycles, the greater the durability.

Types of existing batteries and their advantages

Broadly speaking, this is part of the propulsion system of an electric car, which consists of a socket, an on-board charger, a power converter, a transmission (almost always a single gear), a power unit. control of the motor and, finally, of one or more electric motors.

Focusing on it, the energy it stores will be used exclusively to move the vehicle. Electric cars have a traditional 12 V battery, like thermal cars, to power auxiliary systems, such as air conditioning, lighting … There are mainly five types and each of them offers a series of different advantages .

Lithium ion batteries

First, and seen as the most common and prevalent electric car batteries among brands, lithium-ion batteries are the best type. They are lighter and offer more autonomy. Of course, this makes them the most expensive as well , which means that other brands choose to carry others that end up being more convenient for their models.

They are batteries that use a lithium salt for their operation. They incorporate a circuit to protect them from overloads. A small drawback is that its performance in cold temperatures is lower than the rest. Its autonomy is very good and the weight is much lighter than the rest, but so is its price, starting at 800 euros.

They are widely used in high-end cars or electric cars, including BMW, Saab, Nissan or Mercedes. They are manufactured in a way that allows more number of recharge cycles , so their useful life is considerably longer compared to older battery models.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries

At the same time, electric cars also choose to use lithium-iron phosphate cars, a variant of lithium-ion cars. They are safer and more stable , while offering a much longer useful life, with higher powers . They require more specific care than those of lithium ions.

However, and perhaps as one of the most important aspects to take into account, they have a lower density, which lowers the amount of energy they can accumulate per kilogram of weight. In return, their production cost is significantly lower, which makes them ideal for electric vehicles.

One of the main advantages is that they do not need cobalt , a material that in addition to being expensive presents serious ethical problems and makes its traceability difficult.

Nickel cadmium

The nickel-cadmium ones are a type of energy storage for which they offer great reliability to the vehicles that carry it. Less common than lithium-ion or iron-phosphate ones, they are also more precise in terms of functionality level, also because they require little maintenance care and even offer recycling techniques.

They tend to have life cycles of between 1,500 and 2,000 charges and discharges, with densities of 40-60 Wh / Kg. It is a technology that was used in the nineties especially for rechargeable batteries. They present a fundamental defect and that is that they have a high memory effect. This means that the battery cannot be recharged until it is completely depleted. If you don’t, your benefits will suffer.


Lead-acid batteries are the low-cost option, but they are definitely not the most practical alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Although there are some brands that continue to use them for some of their cars with less benefits, they have been further removed. They have been very frequent over the years and in recent decades, this to start our combustion engines.

Among their advantages, in addition to low cost and universal standardization, are their good specific power (W / kg), good performance in a wide temperature range, good load retention over time and they are relatively easy to recycle. They can only store about 40 Wh / kg, a very poor energy density as we will see later.

They were the batteries that mounted the first series of the impact (EV-1) and with them more than 100 km of autonomy were achieved. Today they are obsolete for these purposes. Still, some affordable electric cars like the Reva (in some versions) use them.

Nickel-metal hydride

Presenting high maintenance, these nickel-hydride have a life cycle of between 300-500 charge cycles and a density between 30-80 Wh / kg . On the other hand, they have very convenient characteristics, such as that they are not very toxic and that they have a higher yield than that of lead acid, but less than that of lithium.

Also, they are not a type of batteries that are really common in electric cars, although they are in hybrid cars . A very common case is that it uses the Japanese signature of Toya for some versions of the Toyota Prius. In addition, for years these types of batteries have been very popular in mobile phones.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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