Do we need to worry about the battery life of electric cars?

The availability of replacement batteries for the Chevrolet Spark EV has raised concerns among electric vehicle owners. Do they last as long as expected? Opinions differ.

Electric car owners were worried about their batteries when Benoit Charette, editor-in-chief of theAutomotive yearbookrevealed that GM would no longer offer replacement batteries for the Chevrolet Spark sold from 2013 to 2017. GM has since changed its mind, citing “temporary” supply issues.

Note that with 131 km of autonomy on one charge for the Spark, any loss of capacity over time becomes increasingly important.

What about other electric car models?

“The Spark is a special case,” says Daniel Breton, CEO of Electric Mobility Canada. I don’t see anything like that in the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona or Tesla, for example. »

According to some, electric car batteries would lose 1% of their efficiency per year (an idea we could not confirm).

“A 10% loss is equivalent to 45 km over 10 years for a 450 km range car; it is therefore not a problem, continues Mr. Breton. The batteries initially lose their performance, which, however, stabilizes after a few years. Electric car owners will drive between 300,000 and 600,000 km before they run into problems. »

On unknown territory

But electric car technology is fairly new. Only the Toyota Prius Hybrid has a significant history. Its batteries are made of nickel and not lithium-ion like most current electric cars. The Prius has been on sale since 1999 and consumers don’t seem to have any trouble getting replacement cells.

George Iny, director of the Association for the Protection of Motorists (APA), is concerned about manufacturers’ warranties.

“The contracts provide for a 30 percent deterioration before expiry,” he said. That’s 3% to 4% per year over eight years. The problem is that we have no experience in this area for most of the models in circulation. And with the current supply problems, some consumers are sometimes waiting several months for their batteries when the manufacturer recalls them. »

TIPS

  • Book fast charging (at 50 kW terminals) for long journeys. According to sources, Tesla’s battery design would allow for more of this type of charging.
  • Systematically charge to 80% capacity (with exceptions, e.g. for travel) when using a Level 2 (240 volt) charging station at home. Avoid going below 20% before charging.
  • Connect your vehicle to its terminal daily. Some manufacturers recommend unplugging the vehicle when the battery is fully charged and you do not plan to use it for a few days.
  • Preheat your car 30 minutes before departure if connected to a terminal to maximize battery efficiency, especially in winter.

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