With fuel costs glug-glugging to new highs and plenty of commuters heading back to offices, demand for electrical autos is spiking in some places (although not everywhere, and supplies are tight). For new homeowners of electrical autos, and people who are severely contemplating making a purchase order, a central attribute of EVs can also be their most mysterious: that massive, car-moving battery.
While EV hobbyists provides you with countless recommendations on good charging habits and extending the life of your new EV’s battery, we determined to seek the advice of an trade skilled to reply some of our lingering questions. Qichao Hu has been finding out batteries since across the time the Obama administration’s Department of Energy began investing heavily in clean energy. Hu, an alum of Harvard and MIT, is the founder and CEO of SES, a Massachusetts-based battery analysis firm and provider to the EV trade.
The EV motion, Hu says, has been “like a rocket launch. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people saw the success of Tesla. Some car companies, like Honda, have even closed their engine-research departments.” We requested Hu to weigh in on some frequent EV battery questions and considerations.
What Type of Batteries Do EVs Use?
Hu says that each one of the EVs in the marketplace right this moment use lithium-ion batteries, like the type in your cellphone or laptop computer. But there are two distinct sorts: nickel-free LFP (lithium-iron phosphate) batteries and high-nickel NCM (containing nickel, cobalt, and manganese oxide.)
The Tesla Model 3 (which Hu himself drives) makes use of nickel-free LFP, which is usually cheaper and safer, with an extended battery life: “Hundreds of thousands of miles,” he says. Some long-range vehicles use this sort of battery, as would electrical taxis and buses that want to be low-cost and have an extended life span. More premium autos, akin to electrical Cadillacs and Porsches, would use high-nickel compositions, which could be pricier.
Do All EV Batteries Behave the Same Way?
Here’s the place issues get difficult. The identical battery might have a very completely different life span or efficiency, relying on the car it is utilized in.
“So many factors will impact that,” Hu says. “Different cars in different designs, different price ranges, different users and behaviors … it’s hard to say one car is better than the other car because of all these factors. From the battery perspective, it’s really just those two camps, nickel-free LFP or high-nickel NCM.”
Can You Overcharge an EV Battery?
Yes, completely, Hu says. Some EVs will notify you whenever you’ve charged past your every day driving limits. “Definitely across the board you don’t want to fully charge it or fully deplete it,” Hu says. “You want to avoid below 10 percent and more than 90 percent. You don’t want to go from fully charged to fully empty.”
Not not like cell telephones, EVs are getting smarter about managing that concern intelligently and serving to you keep away from shortening your battery’s life with both an excessive amount of charging or an excessive amount of battery depletion.
Is Cold Weather Bad for EV Batteries?
Hu says charging an EV in frigid climate cannot solely shorten the life span of its battery, it might probably truly injury it, particularly in case your automotive has been parked outdoors. He suggests driving round to heat up first as an alternative of charging your car from a very chilly state.
Again, EV firms are attempting to take the ache out of this. Since EVs are by no means completely off, fashions such as the Chevy Volt, Jaguar I-PACE, and Tesla’s lineup robotically cool or warmth the battery to make sure that it’s in a superb temperature vary for charging.
Does the Way I Drive Impact Battery Life?
Hard sure. Driving sooner in chilly climate can considerably reduce the battery vary. Hu says he would possibly get 300 miles out of his Model 3 by driving 70 miles per hour, but when he accelerates to 80 and it’s chilly outdoors, that vary might sink to about 180 miles.
“At high power and low temperature, the amount of a (battery) capacity is much lower,” Hu says.
Our suggestion: Don’t push the engine too onerous or drive in excessive temperatures with out anticipating a drop in driving vary.
Should I Worry About Charge Cycles?
Hu says homeowners should not fear an excessive amount of about cost cycles, that are the quantity of instances a chargeable battery could be charged and depleted in its life span, the best way you would possibly with your private home Duracell rechargeables. Car producers, he stated, adjust the way the car utilizes its battery as the vehicle ages, “based on the time, the temperature, your driving behavior; it’s all done automatically by the software,” Hu says.
The course of, he says, is going on consistently on most EVs, with battery well being information despatched anonymously again to a central evaluation system. The system determines if the battery is in good well being or whether or not it’s in early-stage hazard mode and would possibly want therapeutic protocols. In late-stage hazard mode, Hu says, a automotive would possibly want to be recalled. “These danger modes can be detected a few weeks to months before catastrophic failure,” he says.