Electric Vehicle Battery Basics | MYEV.com

Here’s what you need to know about the cells that power an EV.

While the motor may be the source that actually propels an electric vehicle, the battery is its virtual heart and soul. If you’re looking for a new or used electric vehicle, you’ll want to pay attention to battery specifications and be aware of other aspects that will ultimately affect its performance.

Electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries of different designs, similar to those used in cell phones and laptops, but on a much larger scale. Lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density and are less likely than other battery types to lose their charge when not in use.

The battery capacity of an electric vehicle is expressed in kilowatt hours, abbreviated as kWh. More is better here. Choosing an electric vehicle with a higher kWh rating is like buying a car that comes with a bigger gas tank in that you can get more miles before you need a “fill up”. “. But be aware that due to the operation of electric vehicles, you will never have access to the full capacity of the battery. This is because the car management system prevents the battery from being 100% charged or 100% discharged to maintain its efficiency and extend its life.

Battery capacities in today’s electric vehicles range from just 17.6 kWh in the Smart EQ ForTwo with a range of just 58 miles, up to 100 kWh in the Tesla Model S and Model X which can travel over 300 miles before driving. need a filler. Battery capacities and other relevant specifications for all current electric vehicles can be found on our companion website InsideEVs.com. They are also provided in each of the used electric vehicle listings here on MYEV.com.

Battery capacity

Perhaps the most critical factor to consider when buying an electric vehicle is the estimated battery range on a full charge, as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. You can find battery life and power consumption data for all current and past models on the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov website. You will also find it on the price sticker that must be affixed to the side window of every new vehicle sold in the United States.

As with conventionally powered cars, electric vehicles are tested for both their operating range and their energy consumption under controlled laboratory conditions. They are “driven” on a dynamometer, which is like a treadmill for cars, using several standardized driving schedules to simulate city and highway driving. An EV begins testing with the battery fully charged and operates until it is fully discharged.

However, the actual range of an electric vehicle on charge can vary depending on a number of factors. Lead-foot acceleration and driving at higher speeds will tend to use more kWh than wiser city driving would. The battery also drains faster when operating with a full load of passengers and cargo. All other things being equal, a heavier vehicle will use more energy to reach and maintain a given speed than a lighter vehicle.

It is important to note that the state of charge of an electric vehicle will decrease more rapidly in extremely cold or hot weather. Freezing temperatures, in particular, can significantly hamper both a battery’s performance and its ability to accept a charge. Additionally, while gasoline engines generate large amounts of heat that can be scavenged to warm a car’s interior, an electric vehicle’s air conditioning system relies solely on battery power. A recent study found that when the mercury drops to 20°F and the vehicle heater is used, the average range of an electric vehicle decreases by 41%. That means a model designed to go 150 miles in combined city/highway driving could only go about 88 miles on a charge. The same study determined that when outside temperatures reach 95°F and air conditioning is used, the range of an electric vehicle drops by an average of 17%.

Charging the battery of an electric vehicle

Most electric vehicle charging is done at home, either through a conventional 120-volt circuit (called level 1 charging) or a dedicated 240-volt line (level 2 charging). Depending on the capacity of the vehicle’s battery, it can take anywhere from eight hours to over 16 hours to reach a full charge using Level 1 charging.

Although it will cost a few hundred dollars for an electrician to install 240-volt service in your garage, it will pay off in terms of charging times as short as four hours. If your utility company offers a discount for off-peak electricity, you can save money by scheduling a charge in the middle of the night.

There is an even faster alternative, called Level 3 charging, although it is limited to a small but growing system of public charging stations. Also called DC fast charging, it can bring an electric vehicle’s battery up to 80% capacity in as little as 30 minutes, depending on the vehicle.

Be aware, however, that an electric vehicle’s battery will take longer to recharge in cold weather than in warmer temperatures, regardless of the level of charge used.

Battery Warranties

Unfortunately, all electric vehicle batteries degrade somewhat over time and lose some of their ability to hold a full charge. It’s not as dire a warning as it sounds, though. According to the Plug In America organization, the average Tesla Model S only loses 2.3 miles of range for every 10,000 miles driven. Tesla itself reports that in controlled tests, its batteries retained 80% of their range after driving 500,000 simulated miles. Shorter-range electric vehicles, on the other hand, can experience further deterioration, as regularly draining most or all of a battery’s charge will tend to reduce its capacity more quickly over time.

On the plus side, federal regulations require that an electric vehicle’s battery, which can cost thousands of dollars to replace, be backed by a warranty of at least eight years or 100,000 miles. it doesn’t matter which comes first. For its part, Hyundai extends that coverage to life on the Kona Electric, while Kia extends it to 10 years or 100,000 miles on the Niro and Soul EV models.

Be aware, however, that every EV warranty has exceptions when it comes to battery life. For example, some automakers only cover the battery if it fails completely, while others, including BMW, Chevrolet, Nissan, Tesla (Model 3), and Volkswagen, will replace it if it drops to a specified percentage of capacity. during the warranty period, which is usually 60 -70 percent.

Finally, if you buy or sell a used electric vehicle, keep in mind that any remaining portion of the original battery warranty will be transferred to a subsequent owner.

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