Electric cars are the future of our global transport system. As the world continues to become more conscious of the environment, many governments are promoting the production of electric cars in their respective countries for several reasons.
Electric cars will minimize the carbon footprint and lower emissions from fossil fuels. At the moment, electric cars, while becoming increasingly more popular, are far from becoming the norm as the internal combustion engine still dominates the automotive industry at home here in SA.
That said, many people are curious about the current state of electric cars and how they will play a role in the future.
BPZ understands the inquisitiveness of people regarding this topic and many people find it an interesting topic of discussion when we chat with them instore about the future of automotive battery technology.
So today, we will try to shed some light on the key performance and longevity factors of electric cars, and the batteries that will power them.
The battery normally found in electric cars is a lithium-ion battery. Compared to lead-acid batteries, they are modern deep cycle batteries which makes them ideal to use to power electric cars.
They have reasonably long lifespans and the fact that they are lightweight and compact helps in integrating the battery into the car without placing any unnecessary strain on the car's performance.
Some of the most frequently asked questions regarding lithium-ion batteries are usually related to mileage, lifespan, and performance in general.
So let's take a look at these features one by one.
Mileage - The overall lifespan of an electric vehicle (EV) battery is debatable, and you will find different answers from different people across the motoring landscape and the web.
Looking at the current warranties offered by some manufacturers it would seem that on average, it is expected that an EV battery will provide around 8-10 years of service. This seems to be the general trend amongst the big brands. For instance, Nissan Leaf has a 10-year warranty which can also be completed if the car reaches 100,000 miles first. This goes to show that lithium-ion batteries are fairly long-lasting and can provide service for an extended period of time.
Lifespan - Just like with any other battery, degradation after multiple charging/discharging cycle is natural. In the first 5 years or so, the battery should deliver constant performance with little to no change in the battery's energy storage capacity. In the latter years, the battery may experience some degradation. The state of charge (SOC) also plays an important role in the battery's lifespan.
Using the lithium-ion battery in its fully charged state may cause over-heating which could result in permanent damage and a reduced lifespan.
The recommended range for using a lithium-ion battery is from 20% to 80% of its full charge capacity. This yields the best possible results.
This is why some companies, to protect the battery from being fully charged, add a buffer to the battery which keeps the maximum possible charging level at around the 80% mark.
Performance - The next pressing concern regarding EV batteries is their mileage in a single charge. Again, you would get different numbers from different cars depending on the size of batteries, the car itself, and the technology used in it.
Generally speaking, if charging is done at home then the process can be extremely time-consuming as it could take around +-20 hours for the battery to charge up to its optimal level.
We do have charging stations available, but they tend to be available in limited locations currently which shows the need to invest the electric car infrastructure. These specialized charging stations can considerably reduce charging times to somewhere between 4 to 8 hours. Some electric cars are equipped with fast charging technology and they can charge up to 80% of their capacity in only 20-30 minutes!
If we look at the existing electric cars, on average, most are able to travel around +-160km in a single charge. There are exceptions too. For instance, some models of Tesla are able to last for around 480kms on a single charge and they are able to achieve this mileage by traveling at reasonable speeds.
In the not so distant future, the electric car will be as common as current cars. We just want to make sure that when you decide to get into that market that there is a batter specialist who is on the pulse of technology and understands batteries in every way shape and form.
Many electric vehicle batteries may be used in what we term “second life” applications.
Examples of this are Solar sites where the demands on the battery are not as vigorous as electric vehicles.