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EV Battery Type Guide

If you want to drive an electric vehicle, there’s a huge range of models to choose from. But the types of batteries the cars use are more limited. Canstar Blue’s EV battery guide runs through all you need to know about different types of electric vehicle batteries.

If you’re considering going electric with your next car, it’s important to build an understanding of the various types of EV battery technology used by different models.

An EV battery makes up a significant proportion of the overall electric vehicle (EV) cost and should be a key focus when EV shopping – just as you’d weigh up the respective merits of petrol vs diesel when buying a conventional car.

More and more EVs are arriving to market and they’re getting cheaper, too. To put the changing market into context, under the NZ government’s emissions reduction plan, released in May last year, it’s targeting an increase in zero-emissions vehicles to 30% of the light fleet by 2035. In short, an increasing number of EVs can be expected on the roads in the coming years.

In the following guide we take a look at how batteries function in an EV and run through the different types of lithium-ion batteries typically available. We also provide an overview of the incentives currently on offer for drivers considering purchasing an EV.

EV batteries: Weighing up capacity, range and lifespan

Kia EV6

An EV’s battery is its energy source, storing electricity which is then used to power the vehicle. EV owners can charge the battery via the vehicle’s charging port, be it using a regular power point, a dedicated charging unit or a public charging station.

The km driving range provided by a full charge is the key figure typically advertised by manufacturers, with range related to the battery’s kWh capacity (indicating its storage capacity when new).

As a guide to the sort of km ranges you can expect from an EV, current model EVs offer the following ranges (see individual manufacturer websites for further details):

  • BYD Atto 3 – up to 420km
  • Hyundai IONIQ 6 – up to 614km.
  • Kia EV6 Air RWD Standard range – up to 394km.
  • Nissan LEAF – up to 270km.
  • Tesla Model 3 Performance – up to 547km.

Of course, batteries degrade over time, and it’s important to keep in mind battery lifespan when assessing different EV options. Make sure to weigh up an EV’s battery warranty (as opposed to the vehicle warranty), which may be measured in years and/or total km.

EV battery technologies: what are NMC, NCA and LFP batteries?

Over the years, lithium-ion batteries have emerged as the battery of choice for powering EVs. This is the same type of battery technology used in many popular consumer tech items, from smartphones, to tablets and laptops.

Battery technologies continue to evolve apace, with manufacturers seeking to drive down costs and improve driving ranges. Among the lithium-ion batteries commonly used by manufacturers three main variants have emerged.

When researching EV models and battery options, you’ll likely come across the acronyms NMC, NCA and LFP. Each of these acronyms refers to the chemistry used by a particular type of lithium-ion EV battery.

NMC (nickel manganese cobalt)

NMC batteries have to this point been the most common type of lithium-ion battery used in EVs. However, NMC batteries are expensive to produce and there are environmental, sustainability and social issues around the sourcing of nickel and cobalt.

NMC batteries are capable of storing greater amounts of energy, are known for their long range, and are better suited to charging in colder conditions. However they have a comparatively shorter lifecycle than LFP batteries (see below).

NCA (nickel cobalt aluminium)

NCA batteries are used less frequently than the other lithium-ion battery types. Although they contain aluminium instead of manganese, they still face issues around the use of nickel and cobalt. NCA batteries can currently be found in some high-performance Tesla models.

Like NMC batteries, NCA batteries are capable of storing greater amounts of energy and are known for their longer range. However they also have a comparatively shorter lifecycle when compared to LFP batteries.

LFP (lithium iron phosphate)

LFP batteries have emerged in recent years as a more sustainable and cheaper alternative to NMC and NCA batteries. However, it’s important to note that lithium – like cobalt and nickel – is also a limited resource, with increased demand driving up costs.

LFP batteries can provide longer lifecycles than NMC and NCA batteries, and can be charged up to 100% without causing degradation. However they have less driving range and can have a greater sensitivity to cold weather.

Many major EV manufacturers, including BYD and Tesla, have been utilising LFP battery technology in recent years.

EV incentives: How to qualify for a rebate

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it’s worthwhile exploring the incentives on offer for purchasing a lower-emissions vehicle. Depending on the type of vehicle you purchase, and its carbon emissions (grams per kilometre), you may be eligible for a rebate.

The Clean Car Discount seeks to make low-emission vehicles more affordable. It offers rebates and fees based on CO2 emissions for new and used eligible vehicles registered in New Zealand for the first time.

Under the scheme, buyers opting for zero- or low-emission vehicles may be eligible for a rebate, and the lower the emissions, the greater the rebate. Conversely, higher-emissions vehicles may attract fees.

The rebate is available for eligible light vehicles (for further information refer to the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency website) that:

  • Have been registered for the first time in New Zealand from April 1, 2022.
  • Have a safety rating of three stars or more on the Rightcar website at the time of registration.
  • Have been purchased for less than $80,000, including GST and on-road costs.

The following rebates are available:

Vehicle carbon emissions* (grams per kilometre) Used vehicle rebates (excluding GST) New vehicle rebates (excluding GST)
0 $3000 $7500
1 to 56 $2000 $5000
57 to 146 $3000 less (emissions x $20 x 130/145) $7500 less (emissions x $50 x 130/145)

Following purchase of an eligible vehicle you (the registered person) will need to apply for the rebate online (providing the sale agreement, plates number and your bank account). Waka Kotahi will then transfer the rebate to your account.

Compare Power Companies with Canstar Blue

If you’re thinking of buying an EV, you could save even more money on fuel by switching your electricity provider to one that offers deals on off-peak power. So if you’ve been with the same provider for yonks, chances are there is a far better value deal out there for your home. You could potentially save hundreds of dollars a year by switching to a more competitive plan.

Take a look at your next power bill. Once you know how much you’re paying in fixed and variable charges, it’s easy to jump online and compare different power companies and the deals they’re offering. A good place to start is Canstar’s most recent review of electricity providers, here is a snippet of our top scoring providers:

Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction and value for money. The table below is an abridged version of our full results, for more details click on the big button at the bottom of the story!

See Our Ratings Methodology

Compare electricity providers for free with Canstar Blue!

About the author of this page

 Martin KovacsThis report was written by Canstar author Martin Kovacs. Martin is a freelance writer with experience covering the business, consumer technology and utilities sectors. Martin has written about a wide range of topics across both print and digital publications, including the manner in which industry continues to adapt and evolve amid the rollout of new technologies

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