March 20th, 2020 at 7:29 am
One major discussion point when it comes to new electric vehicles is whether they’re easy to charge and how long the charge lasts for. In the motor trade, this is called “range anxiety”. Think about the number of petrol stations within a 5-mile distance of where you live then compare the figure with the number of charging points. It’s easy to see why this is such a concern.
For drivers considering switching to an electric car, flat batteries is a top concern. However, as all drivers are aware, if your battery is old, you can continue charging it forever, but when it’s past its useful lifespan it may lack capacity even if it’s fully charge. Since your battery is your main propulsion mechanism it isn’t too much of a surprise that savvy motorists are now looking beyond the charging point issue and are, instead, becoming more interested in the other elements of battery care and maintenance. Longevity and degradation of their battery remains a major question that new drivers want answered. Since the car’s battery remains the most costly component of modern EV technology, it’s no wonder that it’s a major concern for customers who are considering paying a lot of money for their new car.
Batteries – An Overview
Batteries found in virtually all modern electrical items from laptops and smartphones to electric vehicles all have their own lifespan. Over time, they will slowly start to hold less charge. When you consider the battery inside your current car, this is also the case, although most have a 5-year guarantee from new. There’s a difference between car batteries found in regular engines and the batteries found in EVs though in terms of their size and replacement cost. In regular cars, the battery powers certain functions and activities. However, it isn’t the primary means of propulsion.
Batteries found in modern electric vehicles are LIB or Lithium Ion batteries. These are rechargeable and can be found in the aerospace industry as well as portable electronics. This technology emerged at the end of the last century, first having been brought to the market by electronic giant Sony.
LI batteries function by discharging during use then charging back up again when plugged into an electricity source. During the battery’s lifespan, its recharging abilities gradually lessen. While the battery will always appear to be fully recharged, on old batteries the capacity could be as low as 20%.
If you’re a new electric vehicle owner, is there anything you could do to make your car battery’s lifespan longer?
First, some myths need to be busted. Firstly, if you keep your battery fully charged all the time, it can actually be damaged. This is due to the heat that is generated in the process of recharging. Of course, this seems counterintuitive to motorists suffering from range anxiety and who are afraid that their battery will run flat when they’re on the roads.
Some vehicle manufacturers have already thought about this and stop their battery automatically from charging once its full capacity has been reached. For example, Tesla’s Model S saloon allows the car to be charged up to a specific percentage. Therefore, there’s no need to be focused on having a full charge. Overcharging may also result in chemical degradation inside the battery that could impact negatively on its lifespan and affect its capacity to hold its charge.
On the other hand, having a totally flat battery isn’t the best idea either. The majority of LIBs will perform at their best if they have a charge between 50% and 80%.
Batteries can’t recharge at an even rate. The initial 80 percent of a battery’s capacity charges more rapidly compared to the next 20%. This affects charging times substantially. It seems better, therefore, for battery health to only charge up to 80%. Now you know this, it makes current figures more understandable when you see statistics for UK charging points listed for charging cars up to a capacity of 80% instead of 100%.
All experienced drivers know that, with convention engines, cold weather drains the charge. However, you may not be aware that heat also affects batteries adversely. This is another reason why it’s a bad ideal to leave your battery permanently fully charged. EV batteries aren’t any different. They too are subjected to identical influences as standard cars when they experience extreme weather. Battery tests carried out on electric vehicles in a wide variety of temperature conditions revealed that EVs have a reduced range when exposed to cold temperatures when compared to temperate ones.
Most vehicle manufacturers are aware of the concerns that drivers have about battery life. Therefore, they’re now offering warranties and guarantees of 5 years or 60,000 miles. One brand leading the way in this is Tesla who offer an 8-year warranty for the Model S with no mileage restrictions. Like a manufacturers’ warranty for standard fuel vehicles, this warranty is transferable between owners as it remains with the vehicle. Another option is to lease the battery as this gives more flexibility when it comes to upgrading or replacement as the latest technology arrives.
Could I Depend On An Electric Vehicle?
A recent study covering EV technology scored Nissan’s Leaf with a reliability of 99.7%, and most negative comments about it related not to its battery life but its bodywork. Interestingly, Tesla’s Model S ranked lowest in the chart, reaching the low score of only 50.9%. However, once again, the majority of reported issues weren’t about the battery. It’s important that you don’t think only about battery life and quality when buying an electric vehicle – there are other potential issues that shouldn’t be overlooked.