5 ways to maximise your EV battery’s lifespan
29th November 2021
As drivers switch from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) to electric vehicles (EVs), we’re seeing steady progress on the decarbonisation of the automotive sector.
EVs made up 15% of all new vehicle registrations in October 2021; up from just 6.6% of all new vehicle sales in 2020. And manufacturers are striving to produce an experience that matches or betters that of a traditional ICE vehicle.
EV batteries are a long-term investment, with most guaranteed for up to 100,000 miles and a predicted lifespan of up to ten years - more than an average ICE. And while some drivers have been concerned about range, the average EV range is around 190 miles on a full charge, which exceeds the needs of the majority of Fleet Managers.
But there’s plenty you, as a Fleet Manager, can do not just to maximise the range of your EVs – but also to extend the lifespan of their batteries.
1. Warm up when it's cold
Just like ICEs, EVs can be affected by the weather. Some climate conditions are better than others for maintaining efficient performance.
Cold weather causes the batteries to expend more power. This is due to the battery warming both itself and the passenger cabin up. This won’t hamper your journey, but extreme conditions may reduce your range and contribute to your battery deteriorating more quickly.
The ideal temperature for EVs is around 21.5C. According to one study, this would offer an expected range of 115%. More extreme conditions could impact range more severely; at temperatures above 40c and -5c, efficiency would drop by around 25%. These temperatures are extremely rare now but could become more regular if the climate crisis worsens.
To maximise efficiency, drivers can pre-condition their battery before driving on a cold morning. Running the engine briefly before setting off ensures the battery’s able to achieve better efficiency despite the temperature. Manufacturers are looking to standardise automatic pre-conditioning based on programmable departure times.
If your EV has them, use the heated seat and steering wheel features for passenger warmth. This directly heats the passengers instead of heating fans which circulate around the cabin.
2. Keep your EV 20-80% charged
For any battery, over or undercharging is detrimental to its efficiency over time. By keeping charge levels in the sweet spot of 20-80%, you can help to prevent your EV’s battery ageing prematurely. Only if you’re embarking on a long trip should you consider charging to 100%.
3. Fast charging's fast enough
While charging at the fastest speed sounds appealing, rapid chargers (50-350 kW) can place extra demand on the battery, reducing its lifespan.
Some fleet operators require their drivers to use rapid chargers to meet business needs and use their infrastructure but, in many cases, these chargers are faster than actually needed. Explore your options; a ‘fast’ charger running between 7-22 kW is often more than adequate, and less likely to cause battery issues over time.
4. Watch your speed
As with ICEs, driving EVs at high speeds depletes your ‘tank’ more quickly. Depleting your ‘tank’ means charging more frequently. And charging more frequently shortens your EV battery’s lifespan.
5. Keep your distance
Giving yourself more time to react on the roads helps you avoid having to brake sharply, and allows ‘regenerative braking’ to kick in. This takes the EV’s energy from its motion and converts it into electricity, turning the electric motor into a generator. It sends reverse torque to the front wheels, slowing the car down like engine braking in an ICE.
This returns up to 10% back to the battery, or as much as 30% if travelling downhill, but it also helps preserve your EV’s battery life.
EV batteries keep going longer than you think
The lifespan of a well-maintained and managed EV battery already exceeds that of an ICE equivalent. As technology progresses, the 10-year guarantee that manufacturers commonly offer will only extend.
When the battery’s no longer efficient for EV use, it can be broken down into smaller cells. It can then enjoy a second life – potentially as power storage in domestic or commercial buildings.
Taking care of your electric fleet and maintaining the batteries in your EVs can prolong vehicles’ lifespans, postpone costly replacement exercises, and increase vehicles’ end-of-life values. It can help make fleet electrification the right decision not just environmentally, but financially, too.
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