EV batteries “lasting longer”

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PUBLIC perception about the health of the battery is proving to be a major obstacle to car buyer acceptance of used EVs but most of these concerns are misplaced, according to a white paper report from the Vehicle Remanufacturing Association of the UK.

VRA chair and Cox Automotive’s insight and strategy director, UK-based Philip Nothard, told GoAutoNews Premium that research by the Green Finance Institute found that 62 per cent of potential EV buyers said that the condition of the battery was a prime reason why they wouldn’t buy an EV.

But he said that most modern liquid-cooled EV batteries made today should last at least 480,000km. In 2019, Tesla boss Elon Musk said its long range Model 3 and Y batteries should go to 800,000km.

VRA consultant Dr Euan McTurk said in the association’s white paper that batteries “in 99.9 per cent of EVs on the road today will last a very long time.”

In the VRA’s white paper ‘EV Battery Health: What the Remarketing Sector Needs to Know’ he points out that the industry must educate the public about EV batteries.

“A means of informing the customer of the health of a battery through some form of certification is clearly very important to encourage drivers to electrify,” he said.

“At present, EV battery health checks are not standardised and are easier to perform on some makes and models than others.”

He said that with a battery check system in place, consumers would feel more confident about buying a second-hand EV.

“Battery health is still a powerful bargaining chip for consumers when negotiating a deal,” he said.

One of the misconceptions centres on the degradation of EV batteries. Mr Nothard said “anyone new to EVs could be forgiven for thinking that their lithium-ion battery pack may only last three to five years before reaching its end of life.”

Manufacturers typically define ‘end of life’ – or EOL – as 70 per cent of the battery’s original capacity.

“However, as evident by the number of Renault Zoes and BMW i3s from the early 2010s on the (European) roads that are still showing most of their original range on a full charge, this is not the case.”

In the VRA white paper, Mr Nothard and VRA experts including consultant Dr Euan McTurk point out that consumers often compare EV battery life with other lithium-ion batteries such as those in a smartphone.

“Crucial differentiators between EVs and consumer electronics is that an EV keeps its battery cool using a thermal management system,” the VRA paper said.

“A smartphone or laptop will push cell voltages as high as possible for the sake of a few extra minutes of run time.

“EVs deliberately block off the top and bottom of their battery’s capacity to reduce degradation and extend lifespan.”

The VRA research also found that by using an EVs battery to power other electric devices – such as household appliances – it can boost the battery life by 10 per cent.

“This is likely in part due to the battery spending less time fully charged and also V2L (vehicle-to-load, such as home appliance or to the electricity grid) duty cycles being far less strenuous on the battery than drive cycles, because of the lower and more consistent power draw,” the VRA white paper said.

Mr Nothard said that a battery check certificate, when issued by a used-car seller, would provide certainty to the buyer and seller.

Philip Nothard

“It allows the remarketer to set a fair price for the used EV and removes the uncertainty when buying an EV that may look fine at first glance but later turns out to have a battery that is more heavily degraded than average,” he said in the report.

“It also helps to improve profitability and customer satisfaction and in turn could reduce the time that the vehicle spends in the dealership by removing any ambiguity around its battery health and certifying that it is suitable for the buyer’s needs.”

The VRA said there were battery insurance companies that offered extended warranties on EV batteries.

“It is also possible that health certificates will lead to EV manufacturers using higher quality cell chemistries and battery designs to provide maximum pack lifespan.

“However, it is important to remember that EV batteries are already built for longevity with the vast majority on the road today showing very little degradation and close to their original range on full charge.”

He said that when degradation starts to become more noticeable “a battery health certificate will help remarketers and customers to establish a fair price and a high degree of confidence.”

Mr Nothard said that the UK Government is working with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and other partners to specify Global Technical Regulations on EV battery health monitoring, with the aim to adopt the finalised regulations into UK law.

“A two-fold approach will see the installation of battery health monitoring devices on new EVs as standard, with accompanying minimum battery health warranties based on the age and mileage of the vehicle,” he said.

“The former will adhere to predefined accuracy requirements and measure battery health to the nearest 1 per cent. 

“This will be easily accessible by EV drivers and customers as well as manufacturers, dealers and remarketers, using a dashboard or infotainment display, or the vehicle’s smartphone app. 

“The latter will mandate that an EV battery maintains a minimum of 80 per cent of its original capacity after five years or 100,000km and 70 per cent of its original capacity after eight years or 160,000km.”

By Neil Dowling

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