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I was recently discussing with a relative about electric cars. It was claimed that the motor of an electric car would age (wear and tear might be the english term?) and the efficiency would become dramatically worse after a few years of usage.

While I can imagine that the motor just breaks after a while, I was always under the assumption that it would perform until then just like on the first day.

Is it true that the motor of electric cars ages in a way that the energy consumption increases / potential travel distance significantly drops, even if the battery is ok?

What happens when it ages? Which parts break in which ways?

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  • $\begingroup$ As with internal combustion engines, the bearings for the rotating shaft will be a point of wear & depending on the type of electric motor, the brushes can also wear. The main weakness of electric vehicle is the battery. Their performance degrades over time because of repeated charging and discharging. Also, battery performance reduces when the battery temperature exceeds 26 degrees Celsius. The battery will more likely be replaced before the motor is replaced. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ As with anything that ages, its subsets age too. How do wire insulation, bearings, cabling, balanced rotors, metal, etc age through thermal cycling, vibration, and electromagnetic cycles? $\endgroup$
    – Abel
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ Let's take wires as example. Here I can imagine that the insulation "dries" over time and small parts chip of. At some point its just gone. So it starts with "fractures" and ends with parts breaking of $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ With the actual metal cable inside the insulation I would have a harder time. I assume that it doesn't agree at all, if the power limits are not exceeded $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ Putting that together, I would think that the cables of the spools of an electric motor might get bad insulation and at some point short circuit. Before that, I would think it operates normally. So no step between $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 13:09

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Electric motors as used in cars do NOT experience serious wear and tear within a few years. The wear items in a DC electric motor are the bearings (which are chosen to furnish many years of operation without replacement) and the brushes (in motors that use them) which are cheap and easily replaceable.

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  • $\begingroup$ Golfcarts used brushed motors, the standard for decades for high efficiency is electronic commutation. The motors are in the rotor, the coils are around the outside, electronically switched. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ @GregLocock yes yes, so in the most modern motors, commutation is electronic and so nothing to wear out there except bearings. -NN $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 4:04

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