Why Are ATV Batteries so Expensive?

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ATV batteries are considered consumables that must be replaced from time to time. The expense of a new battery for your ATV is rarely welcome, and like most batteries, they have become even more expensive in later years.

I did a little research on the subject to understand better what makes up the price components of an ATV battery and which factor drives the price the most.

Material-Cost Plays a Huge Part

Materials make up about 60% of the total cost of an ATV battery. And no, it’s not the plastic casing or any of the components visible from the outside that drives up the price – it is the precious minerals on the inside. 

Lead is the costliest material for lead-acid batteries (including conventional flooded-, AGM- and GEL batteries). 

The lead price was stable at around $0.2 to $0.4/lb from 1989-2005. Then in 2006, the price skyrocketed to over $1.6/lb. It eventually stabilized around $1.0/lb, where it remained relatively stable until the present day. You will find a historical chart of lead prices here.

Lithium-Ion batteries use nickel, cobalt, and aluminum, where cobalt is the most significant contributor. 

The price of cobalt has been hovering relatively stable around $15/lb from 2005 to the present day. The only significant deviations in price were two large spikes where the price spiked at $52 (2008) and $42 (2018). Both of these spikes did affect the price of batteries, and so will similar spikes in the future. You can find a historical chart of cobalt prices here.

The Exported Recycling of Lead Batteries

Lead is potentially extremely harmful and should not be disposed of as ordinary waste. Luckily, lead can be recycled indefinitely.

US recyclers have access to the world’s most advanced battery recycling technology. But, due to strict US lead-emission regulations, they are prevented from disassembling and smelting lead within country limits.

Mexico’s emission regulations, however, are only about 1/10th as stringent as those in the US. This imbalance ensures that most of America’s lead batteries are shipped to Mexico, where lead smelters make them into ingots. The ingots are then shipped to make new batteries that are finally shipped back to US consumers.   

This impressive recycling chain involves many steps and a lot of shipping. And as you know, shipping lead is expensive. 

Fluctuations in Raw-Material Supply Create Price Spikes

Around 90% of today’s lead output comes from recycled lead batteries. From an environmental perspective, it’s fantastic that we’re improving at recycling our harmful waste. 

But, this also leaves the production of batteries vulnerable to fluctuations in the supply of recycled lead. 

Things such as fluctuations in weather patterns can affect how many batteries are being recycled each year. 

During cold winters, many batteries die, producing a surplus of recycled lead. But if we have one or more mild winters where not many batteries need replacement, and then a very cold winter follows, we might face a shortage of recycled lead.

This happens because fewer dead batteries would have been available to recycle. It’s all a matter of supply and demand.

Prices go up when the supply is lower than the demand. A low supply of recycled batteries can be devastating for smelters with operating costs that need to be covered. 

Shipping, Handling, and Storage Costs Are High

Batteries are pretty expensive to ship. 

For one, lead-based batteries are relatively heavy. Not only does it cost more to transport the finished battery, but transporting the raw material costs more as well. 

Secondly, you have the safety precautions required due to the dangerous chemicals inside the battery. This means extra steps are necessary to transport and store them safely.

Labor Costs Are Low, and Manufacturing Is Not Complicated

Labor makes up just a minuscule part of the total cost of producing a battery. 

The manufacturing process is mainly automated, eliminating the need for paid workers. Also, most batteries are produced in low-cost countries where labor is cheap. 

There haven’t been any significant leaps forward in battery technology for several decades. The technology is well-established and understood. Manufacturers do not need extensive research and development departments to produce batteries successfully.

The manufacturing process itself is not that complicated. But, due to the use of hazardous materials such as lead and highly acidic dielectric liquid, strict regulations apply. 

Extra steps and safety precautions are added to the manufacturing process to keep the environment healthy, adding extra cost to the finished product. 

ATV Batteries Have a Relatively Small Market Share

ATV and other small power-sport style batteries are less common than car batteries. This makes them a bit more expensive than car batteries that sell in huge numbers. 

Extra Features or Warranties

Some batteries are manufactured to provide features such as performing better in cold weather. Such features add to the total cost. 

Then you have batteries built to last longer and are sole with extended warranties. Both the more complicated manufacturing process as well as the added risk involved in providing a more extended warranty cost money

Some Battery Types Cost More

The most common types of batteries used in ATVs are conventional flooded (wet) lead-acid batteries, AGM, GEL, Lithium-Ion, or even Lithium-Iron batteries.

In the table below, we compare the price of three random batteries within each of the most common types of ATV battery. By calculating the price for one Ah of capacity, we can get a general idea of the difference in price between the different battery technologies.

Battery Type
Price / Ah
$5.14 /Ah
$4.63 /Ah
18 Ah
$4.00 /Ah
12 Ah
$4.00 /Ah
18 Ah
$7.22 /Ah
20 Ah
$4.65 /Ah
20 Ah
$7.50 /Ah
Lithium ion
18 Ah
$10.56 /Ah
100 Ah
$8.00 /Ah
Battery Type
Average Price / Ah
  • Conventional lead-acid batteries are cheaper than all other battery chemistries and offer the most power for the money. The manufacturing process is relatively straightforward, and raw materials make up most of their production cost.
  • AGM is also a lead-acid battery but uses additional technology to create a battery that is safer, longer-lasting, and has a lower self-discharge. The added tech and materials add to the overall cost compared to a conventional wet lead-acid battery. An AGM battery costs about 1.2 times more than a conventional wet lead-acid battery.
  • Lithium-Ion batteries use a whole other range of raw materials and manufacturing technology that further drives the price. Lithium-Ion batteries cost about twice as much per amp-hour as conventional wet lead-acid batteries, but they also allow for a deeper discharge, providing more usable capacity. 

Core Charge – A Deposit to Promote Recycling

In many states, you are charged with a mandatory core charge – a deposit that you get back when returning your used battery for recycling.

This charge does add to the price you have to pay for a new battery, but you get the money back as long as you remember to bring it back when it’s worn out and has to be replaced.

Are ATV Batteries Really That Expensive?

ATV battery prices have increased in recent years for reasons discussed in this post. But are they actually that expensive? It’s often a matter of perspective.

If you deduct things like core charge, seller margins, and transportation cost, the price of a battery is, in reality, quite reasonable. Keep in mind that you get a unit that lasts for 3-5 years (sometimes even longer) for the price of a few tanks of gas. 

In this perspective, the price of a battery may seem a bit more justified and acceptable.


How much does a typical ATV battery cost?

A standard ATV battery usually costs between $40 to $100, depending on the make and model.

Is it worth investing in a high-end ATV battery?

High-end batteries can provide better performance and longer life, justifying the higher cost.

What factors influence the cost of an ATV battery?

Battery type, brand, performance, and the specific model of your ATV all influence the battery cost.

Wrapping Up

In summary, the price of ATV batteries is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from the cost of raw materials and recycling processes to shipping, handling, and the specific market share. This understanding can provide a helpful perspective as you navigate your ATV battery investment, offering clarity amidst rising costs.

Haavard Krislok
Haavard Krislok
Haavard Krislok is an ATV and off-road enthusiast with a rich background spanning two decades in owning, maintaining, repairing, and utilizing ATVs for farming, logging, and hunting. Outside his professional life as an engineer and project manager, he cherishes recreational trail riding and is the creative force behind BoostATV.com, serving as its owner, editor, and content creator.

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