What the million-mile battery means for electric cars

What the million-mile battery means for electric(əˈlektrik) cars

It is mainly about greater reliability(rəˌlīəˈbilədē)

As every mobile-phone owner knows, after a year or so the battery starts to fade(fād) and the beast(bēst) needs recharging more frequently. That is a nuisance(ˈn(y)o͞osəns), but a phone’s batteries can be replaced fairly cheaply—or the whole handset traded(trād) in for the latest model. An electric car, however, is a much bigger investment. And batteries are its priciest(ˈprīsē) component(kəmˈpōnənt), representing around 30% of an average mid-size vehicle(ˈvēək(ə)l). Apart from increasing the risk of running out of juice(jo͞os) and leaving a driver stranded(ˈstrandəd), a deteriorating(dəˈtirēəˌrādiNG) battery quickly destroys a car’s second-hand value.

To provide buyers with some peace of mind, carmakers guarantee their batteries, typically for eight years or around 200,000km(kəˈlämədər). Producers are now, though, planning to go much further than that, with the launch of “million mile” (1.6m kilometre) batteries. Zeng Yuqun, the boss of Contemporary(kənˈtempəˌrerē) Amperex Technology, a giant Chinese firm which produces batteries for a number of carmakers, said in June that his company was ready to start manufacturing(ˌman(y)əˈfakCHəriNG) batteries which would last for 16 years or 2m kilometres. Elon Musk has hinted that Tesla, a Californian maker of electric vehicles of which he is boss, has a million-mile battery in the works. Rumours(ˈro͞omər) suggest this could be unveiled(ˌənˈvāl) in September. And over in Detroit(dəˈtroit), General Motors(ˈmōdər) is in the final stages of developing an advanced battery which it says has similar longevity(lônˈjevədē).