Can You Upgrade Your EV’s Battery and Increase Its Range?

Theoretically, both EV automakers and aftermarket equipment manufacturers should be able to manufacture high-cost, long-range batteries you could have swapped into most low-range electric vehicles. This is because many vehicles that offer multiple battery capacities still make all their battery packs the same size, physically. But as EVs are relatively new, mechanics have only developed a good system for upgrading EV batteries–and thus increasing range–for the Nissan Leaf and Tesla’s vehicles.

Can you upgrade your Nissan Leaf’s battery pack and increase its range?

The Nissan Leaf is one of the only EVs with an upgradable battery pack–according to Life Wire. The EV Rides shop out of Portland, Oregon will upgrade your older Nissan Leaf EV, increasing its range to as much as 240 miles.

A person's hand connecting a high-speed electric charger to an electric vehicle's upgraded long range battery pack.

Charging an EV | Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images

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EV Rides has developed a procedure to upgrade to larger, pre-owned Nissan batteries into low-range Leafs–thus increasing their range. Alternatively, if your Nissan Leaf’s battery pack has declined considerably EV Rides can swap your degrading battery pack out for a similarly-powered but less worn pack. This procedure should restore most of your stock range.

EV Rides only offers one battery size for 2011 and 2012 Nissan Leaf EVs. A 24kWh battery should set you back $6k-7k and offer a 70-85 mile range.

2013 through 2017 used Nissan Leaf owners have many more battery options. The largest used battery EV Rides currently offers is a 62 kWh pack. With 90% capacity left it will run you between $15,500-$18,500 and offer you 230-240 miles of range.

At the moment, EV Rides is also offering a brand new 40kWh battery option for 2013-2015 Nissan Leafs. It should cost about $14k and offer up to 170 miles of range.

Can you upgrade your Tesla’s battery pack to increase its range?

Tesla fully supports vehicle owners upgrading its vehicles originally sold with smaller battery packs to larger, Tesla-built battery packs. There are some limits: for example, the latest 100 kWh battery is too heavy for Model S Teslas not originally designed for it–but the 90 kWh battery should be back-compatible.

A bank of EV chargers illuminated, the sunset visible behind them.
EV charging station | Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

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Tesla’s first sedan was the Model S. The company offered it with battery packs as low as 40 kWh to keep entry prices low. But a Model S with a 40 kWh pack only offered 139 miles of range–when new. As these cars age, their range will degrade. While battery packs often last over 100,000 miles, many owners of Teslas with a limited range may want to upgrade.

The automaker is very happy to sell its newer, larger battery packs to owners of Teslas with a limited range. Owners of an older Model S should know that new 60, 70, 75, 85, and even 90 kWh batteries should be back-compatible with their car. It is only the 100 kWh battery packs that are too heavy.

Tesla has used the same battery pack size since it introduced the Model S. If you order a new Tesla with a larger kWh battery, the automaker simply loads the battery pack tray with a higher number of lithium-ion cells.

This is one of the features that makes a used Tesla a great investment.

Can you increase any EV’s battery range?

Most EV companies offer differently shaped battery packs when you order different battery sizes. Some automakers with a standard battery tray size do not support the over-the-air software updates that would be required to upgrade an older vehicle with a larger battery pack.

Two factory workers assembling the extended range upgraded battery pack going into an electric vehicle (EV).
EV assembly | Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images

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I hope that as more aging EVs require a battery replacement, engineers at aftermarket companies find ways to offer replacement battery upgrades. EV motors last much longer than internal combustion motor and it would be ashame for older, short-range EVs to become obsolete as the market shifts. A used plug-in or EV with added range could be an excellent, affordable way, for many drivers to get into an electric car. Sadly, it looks like the auto industry is not thinking the same way.

Next, read about whether iithium-ion EV batteries are getting cheaper or more expensive or watch the Gruber Motor Company private Tesla garage’s explanation of retrofitting an older Tesla with a larger battery:

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