EV Battery Longevity FUD; Much Better Than Anyone Expected

FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. I only recently became aware of the acronym, but apparently versions of it have existed for almost a century in sales and marketing. Today it is used in the political arena and often FUD is used to shut down technical and scientific advances by raising unsupported issues to scare adopters away. While I have no recollection of ever having consciously encountered it, the noun “Fud” is defined as an old-fashioned, unimaginative, ineffective or pompous person and has interesting ancient Scots roots. A synonym is “Fuddy Duddy” which I am familiar with, but never really used.

Meanwhile, as near as I can determine, there is no real etymological connection between the acronym and the word, but without strain it is possible to call somebody who engages in FUD a Fud, and I will use it as such in this blog.

I remember FUD about the cost of battery replacements when the Toyota Prius started to come on the scene. Fuds stated with conviction that when those batteries inevitably failed, it would cost so much to replace the batteries that the car may as well be scrapped.

Toyota warranted the batteries for 100,000 miles and still the Fuds persisted.

Then true EV’s came out and Fuds made an even bigger argument about battery replacement issues.

We now have a few more year experience with those batteries and, wow, the sky has not fallen. As a matter of fact, the sky is bluer than with IC cars.

A recent study by Recurrent shows that EV battery degradation and cost of replacement is much less than even the car manufacturers themselves predicted.

Yes, there were recalls and fire issues, but recalls carry no cost to the Owner and, when all is said and done, the fires are statistically insignificant compared to IC combustibility issues (exploding gas tanks, overheating brakes, etc.). The overall ownership experience of EV’s with regard to maintenance costs, including possible battery replacement, is peanuts compared to internal combustion cars.

The report is heavily laden with exhaustive statistics, and still provides some cautions since most EV’s are still so new, but the bottom line shows all is well in EV land. Batteries will last for a decade and more and the actual capacity degradation is much lower than expected.

Personally, I can vouch for the reliability and longevity of car lithium batteries through a slightly different experience.


I am on my second lease for a Plug In Hybrid Chrysler Pacifica. When fully charged, that car runs for 33 miles on batteries and then switches to hybrid mode. From a battery life point of view that arrangement is about as bad as it gets, since just about every day the battery will go from a full charge to empty, then will run back and forth on low charge in hybrid mode, and then will get a full charge that night.

In other words, this battery fully cycles from full to zero just about every day. During my first lease, the car ran about 30,000 miles on battery (and another 30,000 miles in hybrid mode) and therefore had about 1000 discharge cycles.

Only very rarely will an EV go through that many cycles, since it means a 200 mile EV will have to drive 200,000 miles before the batteries receive the same level of abuse. Moreover, an EV will rarely go to zero charge since that means it is stranded somewhere along the side of the road while my plug in hybrid will do that every day.

When I returned the lease, in my, gut I think I lost some range on the battery, but there was no reliable way to measure it and, if there was a loss it was minimal, most certainly less than 10%.  As such, my car basically was a test mule for the long term full EV battery cycle.

However, nothing lasts forever and a small percentage of batteries can randomly fail just when the warranty runs out. The same can happen with an internal combustion engine. To replace an engine in a smallish car will run no less than $7000, but a failed battery pack has to cost much more.

But will it? Remember those scary prognostics with regard to those puny Prius Battery replacements?

Well, some of those batteries did fail after many years and did require replacement. A friend of mine owns a 2007 Toyota Prius. After 280,000 miles, his battery gave up the ghost and he called his dealer. They quoted him a battery replacement cost of $4,000 parts and labor. That is a lot of money, almost as much as an engine replacement, and my friend went on the internet and found Green Bean Battery. They offered to replace his failed battery with a reconditioned battery for $1,400 parts and labor. Moreover, they would do it in his driveway, just like a Safelite windshield replacement. So, after 280,000 miles for $1,400 he was back in business. I asked him about other maintenance costs and he told me the car had had no other big ticket problems. Then I asked him about how often he had the brakes serviced and he went: “Uh, now you mention it, I am not even sure, but I can tell you much less than any other car I have ever owned.”

Brakes are nasty devices they literally burn energy away to stop the car and that results in wear. Hybrid cars and EV’s put the energy back into the car and that results in negligible brake wear.

Hybrids still carry engines, which is a maintenance bummer. EV’s have so few parts that maintenance is pretty much confined to tires and windshield wipers. No oil changes, and my Chevy Bolt has yet to receive service (we have not bothered to replace the fiery battery yet).

Meanwhile, in the department of weird car math, my dealer keeps trying to sell me an oil change for the Pacifica. They persist that oil needs to be changed every 3000 to 5000 miles. When I call them on their lie and tell them the car has a factory installed oil monitor that will tell me when to change the oil based on engine performance and load, they stone cold maintain that they still recommend an oil change every 3000 to 5000 miles. Then they start the FUD which, in my case, has little effect, but certainly will resonate with people who are less familiar with IC technology.

In actual fact, because:

  • 1. I drive like an old lady,
  • 2. the car drives half its miles on electric alone,
  • 3. a hybrid car burns less fuel (wear is related to the amount of fuel that passes through an engine),
  • 4. the engine in a hybrid car is loaded less than a conventional car,
  • the oil monitor lets me get about 15,000 miles between oil changes.


  • Looks like I will have to take the car in soon for its annual oil change. I suppose I will have them change the air filter and rotate the tires too while it is there.

It is no fun being a car dealer. To have lost most of one’s ability to make money on car sales due to the internet, and now to also lose the ability to make money on service work, must turn any dealer into a Fud.