One of the talking points of owning an electric car is how much capacity the battery will retain after several years and thousands of miles of driving. Just like a smartphone, an EV’s battery will degrade over time which means it will offer fewer driving miles on a full charge.
Some car manufacturers and their associated suppliers have mastered the chemistry that goes into the EVs they make, while others fall short of expectations.
In the video embedded above, Bjorn Nyland, a YouTuber who’s known for his deep dive videos on EVs–as well as his unconventional banana box test–takes a two-year-old Volkswagen ID.3 for a spin to see how much battery it still has.
This particular German electric hatchback is powered by a 62-kilowatt-hour battery and has driven just 30,000 miles or 48,000 kilometers. So you would expect to see minimal degradation, but the reality doesn’t live up to the expectations.
It’s worth noting that the 62 kWh figure refers to the gross capacity, while the usable capacity is around 58 kWh. With this said, after driving for about 158 miles (254 km) in freezing temperatures in Norway, Bjorn stopped at a Tesla Supercharger to top up the battery and did the math.
The car had an energy consumption of 19.6 kWh/100 km, which translates to 31.5 kWh/100 miles. That’s worse than the Tesla Model Y Long Range (28 kWh/100 mi, according to the EPA) but pretty much on par with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Standard Range RWD (30 kWh/100 mi).
As for the degradation rate, it’s a mixed bag. As per the YouTuber’s calculations, this particular ID.3 lost 6.3% of its battery reaching a total usable capacity of 52.1 kWh, but there’s an asterisk here. He compared the amount of energy that could be stored in the battery pack to the figure he observed when driving a brand-new ID.3 a few years ago, which is 55.6 kWh. That said, we'd take these numbers with a grain of salt.
If we compare it to the usable capacity touted by Volkswagen–58 kWh–the degradation is even worse: 10.1%.
The same Bjorn Nyland tested other EVs using this method and found that a Tesla Model 3 Performance’s battery experienced a 5.3% degradation after 38,000 miles (62,000 km), while a 2019 BMW i3 with 94,000 miles (152,000 km) on the odometer had its battery pack degrade by just 1.6%. A two-year-old Mercedes-Benz EQC with 145,000 miles saw a degradation of 8.4%.
As with the famous quote from HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series, this ID.3’s battery degradation is not great, not terrible. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.