How Big Are Batteries On Electric Cars? (Explained)

Electric cars fascinate us in the same way cars fascinated people back when the first automobile was invented.

Although they are still just cars, many things, including their components and operations, are different. One component of noteworthy interest is their batteries because they’re the life of electric cars.

Let’s discuss their different sizes, capacities, and all other things in between.

Here’s how big electric car batteries are:

In recent times, the average electric car battery capacity ranges from 60 to 100 kWh. Automakers are extending battery capacities to unbelievable figures like 130 and 200 kWh. With this in mind, EVs with 16 or 20-kWh batteries can’t compete anymore.

What Are the Battery Dimensions of Electric Cars?

As electric cars have different battery capacities, they have varying dimensions as well. Besides, it’s only natural that their dimensions would vary (it’ll be a coincidence if they are all the same). However, we can find another good reason they’re different.

Different battery types have different designs and structures, as we’d explore soon. So we’d expect their weights, capacities, and dimensions to all vary. We’ve listed different EV battery sizes, including trucks and SUVs.

  • Nissan Titan Electric Truck: 69.5 x 31.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Chevrolet Silverado EV: 78.8 x 44.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Ford F-150 Lightning: 0 x 41.0 x 10.0 inches
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E: 75.6 x 59.1 x 8.1 inches
  • GMC Hummer EV: 74.5 x 41.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Tesla Model Y: 76.0 x 47.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Tesla Model 3: 74.0 x 41.0 x 5.5 inches
  • Nissan Leaf: 61.8 x 46.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Kia Niro EV: 59.1 x 41.5 x 5.9 inches
  • BMW i3: 69.9 x 41.1 x 5.5 inches

Remember, these are largely approximated values of lengths, widths, and heights of different EV batteries.

It’s difficult to know for sure given the different considerations used for measurement. Another factor, like the multiple suppliers, can further affect the consistency of the information.

Lastly, different models and trim variants have different battery dimensions across the years.

Hence, think of the dimensions displayed above only as an approximated guide to help you compare between brands.

How Much Does the Battery Size Differ Across Different Models?

The answers to this question can be opposites, depending on the context we’re looking at. In terms of battery dimensions, as we’ve just observed, there’s not a lot of difference in sizes.

We observed that most battery packs have lengths ranging from 60 to 76 inches. Their heights rarely exceeded 10 inches. We’ve chosen not to evaluate their widths because we consider them a secondary criterion.

However, we know their dimensions depend heavily on the stacking method and the cell type. This is especially true for their heights. It’s also why we pay less attention to their dimensions and more focus on their weights.

On the other hand, when we measure power output, the difference between various EV batteries becomes quite large. In truth, the power capacities of some EVs can double that of others.

This is clear in cars that have up to 130 kWh battery capacities. As we’ve mentioned, some EV batteries don’t even measure up to half that figure. So, the power output difference between batteries across models can measure up to 60 kWh or more.

Also, larger cars like the Ford F-150 Lightning have more powerful batteries than compact ones like the Chevy Bolt. So, don’t be too hard on small EVs with small batteries because large batteries may be excessive for them.

How Are the Battery Packs Designed?

There are 3 major ways EV batteries are designed, based on their cell type. These battery pack designs also have their unique strengths and weaknesses. They are pouch, cylindrical and prismatic cell batteries.

Pouch cell batteries

We may consider these the most basic form of batteries in EVs. They have many advantages, most of which revolve around space efficiency and weight optimization. Hence, we can think of them as the most flexible type of EV battery.

Pouch cell batteries can be stacked on top of each other the same way sheets are layered. They can also be placed side by side. So each pouch can contain many layers of cell components which are all wrapped in an aluminum-coated film.

The design helps them remain flexible. However, their flexibility comes at a cost because they have relatively small energy densities. So a pouch cell battery has less energy than a cylindrical cell battery of equal volume.

Still, although they have lower energy densities, many people believe they might overtake other battery types. This would further make pouch cells the best for EVs. There’s no telling what’s possible if they become more widely adopted.

Cylindrical cell batteries

They are the most affordable type of batteries for EVs at the moment. The reason is that they are standardized, meaning they are mass-produced so are more common. As with any product, excess supply drives prices down.

Different automakers stack their cells how they see fit, so let’s discuss how Tesla stacks theirs. Their battery pack is just a combination of smaller packs. Further, a typical Tesla battery pack can comprise up to 16 sub-packs.

Each of these sub-packs can contain over 400 unit cells. When you do the math, it’s not uncommon to have up to 7,000 cells in a battery pack.

The 18650 cell is the common cylindrical cell used in Tesla vehicles. This is the 18mm by 65mm cell, hence its name.

Due to the individual weights of each cell, cylindrical batteries are heavier. Another interesting thing about cylindrical batteries is that they have better energy densities relative to other types. Hence, although they’re heavier, their weights come at a reasonable cost.

Prismatic cell batteries

Prismatic batteries are pretty close to cylindrical ones in terms of their energy densities. However, they’re not as affordable and that’s their disadvantage.

Their packs are like matchboxes in shape. They can also be stacked in a similar way to a pack of matchboxes. Ultimately, the stacking design depends on the automaker and the available space.

A unit prismatic cell is significantly larger than a unit cylindrical cell, so it has more energy per cell. That’s why their battery packs are made of fewer cells.

What Electric Car Has the Biggest Battery?

So far, the 2022 GMC Hummer EV has the biggest battery pack. Few cars have batteries with up to 120 kWh capacity.

The GMC Hummer EV raises the bar higher with its monstrous, out-of-range, 200 kWh battery.

The Ford F-150 Lightning also has a large 131 kWh battery. There seems to be a trend with large EVs having large batteries. We’d explain more about the correlation between big cars and massive batteries later on.

As we mentioned earlier, we place less importance on the battery dimension. So different models with large variations in their battery capacities may even have similar battery dimensions.

Again, an important factor in EVs is their battery weight, so we’d talk about that too soon enough.

Related: 9 Electric Cars With LONG Battery Warranty (With Prices)

Where Are the Batteries Placed on Electric Cars?

Electric car batteries are placed underneath the car’s floor. Of course, their auxiliary batteries are usually located elsewhere, like in the trunk. The auxiliary battery is the same 12-volt battery found in gas-powered cars (that’s right, all cars need the 12-volt battery).

Placing batteries underneath the car’s floor between both pairs of wheels helps with EV balance.

This is because their center of gravity is lower. EV batteries are also pretty heavy and this weight helps ensure that the cars have enough stamina on the road.

Instead of an empty cargo and a hood full of engine components, their most weighty component sits in the middle. It also means EVs are less likely to tumble in an accident. A lower center of gravity also means you get better handling while you drive.

Related: Do Electric Cars Use More Battery At High Speed? (Solved)

How Much Do the Batteries Weigh?

Many EV batteries weigh over 1000 pounds. Also, the batteries are so heavy, they usually weigh about 20 to 25% of the total car weight (curb weight).

What’s even mind-blowing is that electric cars weigh more than gas-powered cars.

This can help you understand just how heavy their batteries are. It also sheds more light on some of the most fundamental EV concepts. No one likes a car that’s too heavy and more battery power means little if it’s too heavy.

We’d explain weight and power soon.

However, for now, remember that EV battery weight plays an important role in vehicle movement. This is also why EV manufacturers prefer to use battery cells that weigh less and provide more power.

We explained EV battery weights in more detail here.

What Is the Size of the Battery in Terms of Power Output?

By now, we’ve already covered some cases of EV batteries and their power outputs. So you already have a pretty decent idea of battery sizes across models. We can consider an EV with a 65-kWh battery as average.

Here’s a table containing cars and their battery sizes. We began with the really large ones.

Model Power Output (kWh)
2022 GMC Hummer EV 200
Ford F-150 Lightning 131
Mercedes-Benz EQS 107.8
Tesla Model X 100
Audi e-Tron 95
Tesla Model Y 75
Hyundai Kona EV 64
Chevrolet Bolt EV 60
BMW i3 42
Honda e 35.5
Hyundai Ioniq EV 28
Honda Clarity EV 25.5

Note that usable battery capacity is often used interchangeably with the total capacity of EVs. However, they’re quite different.

Usable capacity is always slightly lower than the total capacity in any EV. It is usually about 95 to 99% of the total capacity. These extra kilowatt-hours are there as a safety measure to ensure you don’t overcharge or drain your battery.

So, if you see different battery capacities for a single product, it’s likely the usable and total capacities.

Also, if you recall, we mentioned that larger vehicles usually have more powerful batteries. There’s a very good reason for this. We can analogize EV battery outputs to horsepower in gas-powered cars.

A bigger battery doesn’t always mean a longer range unless overall vehicle weight is kept at a minimum. Hence, a large battery may take a large EV the same distance a small battery would take a small one.

Related: Who Owns The Battery In An Electric Car? (Explained)

Final Thoughts

With all this in mind, your aim should be on an EV’s driving range rather than its battery capacity. This is because the driving range is a more realistic measure of performance than battery output.

To calculate the driving range, just multiply the number of miles per kWh by the EV’s usable kWh.

Sources

2022 GMC HUMMER EV Specs & Features | Edmunds

Electric Cars Battery Capacity and Efficiency: In-Depth Analysis, Graphs | Inside EVs

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