JB Straubel, one of Tesla's five co-founders and long-time chief technology officer of the EV maker, believes electric vehicle batteries should last for about 15 years.
Straubel is an authority on batteries as he was responsible for Tesla's battery development until 2019. He led cell design, supply chain and the first Gigafactory concept through the production ramp of the Model 3.
After leaving Tesla, the engineer focused on Redwood Materials, a company he founded in 2017 with the goal of providing end-of-life solutions for batteries from electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and even cellphones.
In an interview with Daniel Yergin at CERAweek 2022, Straubel was asked at what point does the battery life come to an end.
"It's a subjective thing depending on what people's goal is for the car, but I think it's easily going to be 15 years in most cases. I think people will probably keep the batteries in their cars for a long time and really extract as much utility as they can.
I also think battery life will probably track with the vehicle life. Personally, I think it's probably less likely that people will replace a new battery in an old car, given how fast technology is changing and how much better a modern EV might be than a 15-year-old EV at that time."
This is an interesting take as the best battery warranty for currently offered by an EV manufacturer is 10 years or 100,000 miles (for Kia's Niro EV, EV6 and Soul EV). Tesla does offer a better warranty for the Model S and Model X in terms of mileage (150,000 miles), but it's either that or 8 years (whichever comes first).
Basically, Straubel believes batteries should last 50% more than the best battery warranty on the market today.
Most of the interview is obviously dedicated to Redwood Materials and Straubel makes some interesting points about battery recycling. For instance, he says the company is currently recycling 8–10 GWh worth of batteries a year, which is "enough for hundreds of thousands of cars."
That's pretty impressive considering that EV battery recycling is only in its infancy; most of the early electric vehicles that appeared about a decade ago are still on the road.