Battery is, in essence, electric vehicle’s most important element and, therefore, as EV drivers, we should take into account some tips to make your electric car battery last longer.
However, not only do each brand apply its techniques in order to maximize battery life, but technology is always improving and so has demonstrated Bosch developing the “Battery in the Cloud” concept: an intelligent software in the cloud which allows analyzing battery data to prevent its deterioration.
Lithium batteries have a lifespan between 8 and 10 years, and with proper use it can be extended up to 15 years, with an autonomy that should not suffer significant losses during the first 8 years. In addition, taking into account that the major daily use in urban areas is usually not more than 30km, we could charge quietly every 6 days with a 200km autonomy car.
This lifespan equals about 3.000 complete charging cycles, which means total charging and discharging periods. For example, if one day we charge 60% we won’t have completed an entire charging cycle until we charge the remaining 40% another day in order to reach 100%.
So, we’ll detail 8 tips to extend battery life of your electric car so you can take them into account in your daily life in order to extend the autonomy it allows and also to eliminate electric vehicle range anxiety.
1. Keep an eye on the speed
In the same way an aggressive driving would reduce whatever diesel or gasoline vehicle autonomy, so would do an electric one, which would reduce it in a high percentage.
In addition, accelerating with powers greater than your electric vehicle’s battery capacity is also damaging in a long-term. For example, asking our 24kW motor for 50kW to accelerate at a specific moment won’t cause any problem, but doing it so on would end up damaging its lifespan.
So, both driving in a relaxed way and accelerating smoothly will allow extending our electric car autonomy and also reducing the number of times we’ll need to charge the vehicle and the number of complete charging cycles we’ll carry out.
2. Avoid using DC quick charge
As it happens in the previous point, charging regularly with powers greater than the capacity of your electric vehicle’s battery can also damage its useful life.
Moreover, according to experts, although the vehicle is prepared to withstand direct current quick charges, it’s better avoiding them unless it’s strictly necessary since it boosts further battery deterioration.
Eight or ten years on from, battery will have lost more or less a 20% of its capacity compared to a 30% that could be lost in case of charging continuously with fast charging systems.
Obviously, we can make use of fast charging systems if we are travelling, for example, and we need our electric vehicle be charged in less than 30 minutes. But the recommendation, if you really want to make your electric car battery last longer, is to do it only in really necessary cases and not take it as a usual habit.
3. Avoid deep or total discharging
It’s recommended that batteries don’t fully discharge since, on the contrary, a continuum number of deep or total discharges could cause a deterioration of its resistance.
Some manufacturers have already taken this fact into account and have incorporated a minimum reserve in their electric models, which is neither visible nor usable for drivers, but doing so guarantee avoiding total discharges.
Even so, experts’ recommendation is to avoid your battery drop below 30% and always keep it remaining charged between 30% and 80%.
4. Avoid full charging whenever you can
It’s clear a fully charge will allow us to get the most out of the autonomy offered by our electric vehicle, but the best both for extend its lifespan and to take advantage of regenerative braking system is to charge around 80%. This braking system is responsible for recovering part of the kinetic energy to charge the battery, as long as there is enough room to store energy.
Therefore, for electric vehicle daily use it’s recommended charging up to 80% and keep fully charges for long trips or exceptional routes.
5. Take care facing extended storage periods
Like any other vehicle, if we keep it stopped for a long time, we could cause an important breakdown in its battery and even its total deterioration and uselessness.
So, if we must park our electric car for a long period of time it’s better leaving it plugged and programmed to be charged from 50% to 80%. Thus, we avoid, on the one hand, a fully charge and its consequent overheating and, on the other hand, a deep or total discharge.
In case of not being able to schedule the charge, we should park our vehicle in a cool location and be aware, before using it again, that it maintains a minimum of 20% of its capacity. If it’s not like this, we should use a slow charge.
6. Avoid extreme temperatures
Extreme temperatures, both cold and hot, are not friendly with lithium-ion batteries.
On the one hand, an overheating will accelerate its discharge and a prolonged exposure to heat will cause a further battery degradation. On the other hand, subject our vehicle to cold temperatures will affect battery performance, thus reducing its charging capacity and autonomy.
So, keeping our electric car parked in an area with room temperature will promote a right battery maintenance and avoid getting started its thermal management system.
However, some electric cars already have battery air conditioning systems, whose aim is to keep a temperature range between 20ºC and 30ºC in order to guarantee an optimum performance.
Even so, if we have no choice but leaving our car parked on the street with high temperature, the best option is leaving it plugged in so the cooling system gets started up and protects the battery.
7. Control charging time
The best thing about electric vehicles is that we can leave them charging at night, but leaving them plugged longer than necessary can be counterproductive since it can cause an excessive heating to the battery which reduces its lifespan or even generates an overheating damaging its performance.
Unless you have a Wall box, which automatically disconnects battery from the power, it’s recommended to use a timer so that battery is only charged when necessary. Without any doubt, it will be a tool that will help you to extend your electric vehicle lifespan.
8. Perform periodic balancing cells
Current lithium-ion batteries have no memory effect, so it means there’s no harm using a partial charge and plugging in our vehicle as many times as we want. Its lifespan will be determined by the complete number of charging cycles that are carried out and the way in which they occur (depending on whether we use fast or slow charges).
Batteries are made up of multiple cells that, connected in series, raise the total voltage. BMS (Battery Management System) is responsible for balancing each cell voltage and it’s a process only carried out when battery is almost fully charged.
Although we have already said that it’s recommended not to charge our electric car up to 100%, so is recommended doing it from time to time (every three or four months, for example), in order to achieve a correct balance from each and every cell.
And what happens when lifespan ends?
The best thing about batteries is that they generate a large value chain since they close their cycle when their useful life is run out. That is, they can be reused for a second life or recycled their materials in a 95%.
When our EV battery has run out its lifespan, it doesn’t mean it has no longer energy storage capacity. In fact, it maintains about a 70% of its original capacity.
Thus, one of the most viable options is to use them for the storage of domestic energy or energy collected by solar panels and extend their useful life for 10, 20 and even 30 more years.
Another option would either be to reuse them to store energy for portable fast-charging stations, as Volkswagen Group has developed, or to supply energy as the initiative carried out by Endesa group, which uses more than 90 recycled batteries at its Melilla thermal power plant.
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