2020 might turn out to be the year for electric vehicles. An August 2020 article by Forbes magazine reports that global online searches for “hybrid” have increased 18% in the first six months of the year, and 20% for the term “electric vehicle.” The reason, global pandemic. As consumers spend more time at home and use their cars less, they’re rethinking traditional gasoline engines.
Yet, despite the increased interest, buyers are still holding back when it comes to making a purchase. According to U.S. News & World Report, one of the reasons consumers don’t buy an EV are concerns about the battery pack. Imagine the frustration you feel when your phone’s battery won’t charge, and then apply that to your car. What a nightmare! Consumers worry about how long their electric car’s battery will last and accept recharging. Fortunately, improving the life of an electric vehicle’s battery pack is simple.
When it comes to battery longevity, the lithium-ion battery packs used by electric vehicles blow their traditional counterparts out of the water. According to Cars.com, the average battery for a gas-powered vehicle lasts three to five years. Car and Driver report that “every battery in an electric car sold in the U.S. comes with a warranty that lasts for a minimum of eight years or up to 100,000 miles.”
Once your battery hits 100,000 miles, the battery isn’t out of juice; it simply won’t hold its charge quite as long as before. According to Consumer Reports, the batteries will still work but will only get around “two-thirds of its original range.” For a Tesla 3, it’s a drop from about 250 kWh (kilowatt-hours) in the beginning to 164 kWh after 15 years.
Tips for a Longer Life
The battery pack for an electric car is very similar to that of a cell phone, so to improve your battery pack’s life, you should follow many of the same care instructions.
Avoid Temperature Swings
Much like Goldilocks, the lithium-ion batteries used in most electric cars don’t like it too hot or too cold. When the temperature starts to rise, it’s time to find your vehicle some shade. Park in a garage or under a tree. Similarly, when the temperature drops, get it to a garage or park it in a windbreak.
According to Motortrend, the best option in either situation is to find a place to plugin. Plugging in allows your EV’s thermal management system to keep your battery at its preferred temperature. That’s right; your battery has its own thermostat – use it! Be warned, though, Motortrend also indicated that some EVs’ thermal management systems would kick on even if the vehicle isn’t plugged in, and doing so can drain your battery to 15%.
Maximize the Middle
Your battery doesn’t like swings from a low charge to a high charge. Motortrend recommends keeping the charge on your battery between 40-70%. According to PlugInCars.com, repeatedly hitting “maximum capacity” (going the extremes of fully charge to drained) degrades your battery. Keep your battery at an even keel.
Don’t Play with Fire
You may have the need for speed, but your EV’s battery doesn’t. While Tesla’s “cheetah” launch mode is fun, the fast discharge of power requires burns your battery. An analysis by Car and Driver found that Tesla achieves that impressive launch by allowing the “battery pack and electric motors [to] get hotter before pulling power.” These launches not only propel your car forward, but they also bring you that much closer to a burned-out battery.
Similarly, it would help if you avoided high-voltage direct current (DC) charging. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers reported in March 2020 that a recent study from the University of California, Riverside found “the fast-charging of electric batteries can ruin their capacity after just 25 charges,” lead to “cracks and leaks,” and cause “high internal resistance” that can result in issues as your battery charges. According to the study, after 40 charges, the vehicles tested only had 60% storage capacity remaining.
When it comes to EV batteries, slow and steady wins the race and ensures long life.
Improving and extending the life of your EV’s battery pack doesn’t take any fancy equipment or even any significant effort. As with any beloved vehicle, if you take care of it, it will take care of you. By treating your battery with patience and a little care, and you’ll extend its life and the life of your vehicle.