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Transportation electric car road trips  the ultimate guide | Newsletter Battery

Electric Car Road Trips: The Ultimate Guide

by: Yvonne Doff
electric car road trips  the ultimate guide | Newsletter

Electric car road trips. Which electric car should you choose? You have to find an electric car suitable for your needs. Not all-electric cars are a perfect fit for road tripping. Take a few steps into consideration before purchasing an electric of a plug-in hybrid instead. This article is full of battery degradation information and tips & tricks on coping best with your EV-battery!

A Road-Trip Capable Electric Car: The Criteria

Buy a car that can meet up your needs with an appropriate range for road tripping. Do not purchase a model with an 80-mile range if you plan to take only 500+ mile road trips. If you do not mind stopping a few times to charge, the BMW i3 is an option. Do you want to avoid frequently charging? Think of a Tesla or Chevrolet Bolt. They are great for long-distance.

car, tree, houses, canal
Photo by 'Share Me.' BMW i3

Consider A Plug-In Hybrid Or Range-Extended Vehicle

You may consider an electric car which is not entirely electric. You have two options: the range-extended electric vehicles and the plug-in hybrids. The latter have large batteries which can be charged externally. Generally, they have an electric action range of 15 to 50 miles and a full-size gas tank. But they do not have the whole electric driving experience. Then you have the range-extended electric cars, which are entirely electric with a small gas motor. The motor charges the car's battery to provide additional range while driving long distances. The range-extended vehicles give you the full-electric driving experience. Also, they have a fast charger and other EV-specific technology features.

red car Yaris

For a long time, the Toyota Yaris was the only supermini to come with a hybrid option, making it one of the cheapest ways to get a ‘hybrid’ badge. A Fiesta will excite keen drivers much more than the Yaris, but the hybrid is easy to drive and feels perfectly comfortable on a long motorway trip. Around 50mpg is promised, starting to look a little low, seeing as the Fiesta’s turbo petrol engines can manage this figure. The Yaris has an excellent reputation for reliability and a host of safety features, such as autonomous emergency braking, fitted as standard.

DC Fast Charging Is Key For A Sane Road Trip

Only buy a car, including DC fast charging, if you plan to take a road trip. For example, the BMW i3 can charge up to 80 percent in 45 minutes. They charge 50kw per hour. A vehicle without this option, but they only charge around 11kW per hour. So, this will take a lot of time when on-the-go. If you have to wait an hour to drive again, your trip will be extended. Luckily, most new electric cars are equipped with fast charging. Ensure you will get all the information to know if you're dealing with a new or older model.

DC chatging graph

What is DC fast charging?
“DC” refers to “direct current,” the type of power that batteries use. EVs have “onboard chargers” inside the car that convert AC power to DC for the battery. DC fast chargers convert AC power to DC within the charging station and deliver DC power directly to the battery, which is why they charge faster.

 


                                             5 New Battery Technologies That Could CHANGE EVERYTHING

 

Recommended: Tesla Battery Day: It Blows My Mind

Check Battery Degradation When Buying A Used Car

What can 6,000 electric vehicles tell us about EV battery health? Compare the average battery degradation for different vehicle makes and model years.

How long does an electric car battery last?

Use the free EV Battery Degradation Tool to compare the average battery degradation over time for different vehicle makes and model years.

The importance of EV batteries

If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV), there are some important factors to consider. These three questions are probably at the top of your list:

  • How much will the EV cost?
  • What is its range?

How long will the battery last?

From a life-cycle perspective, battery performance and health really are the key to it all. As the battery is an EV’s most expensive component, the degree of degradation will affect the vehicle’s residual value (which helps answer the cost question from above), and will also have a direct impact on the maximum usable range over time.

How long will an EV battery last?

You might have noticed that it is tough to get a straight answer to questions about an EV’s battery lifespan. What you may find instead are assurances that the warranty covers batteries should something go wrong. Typically, battery coverage is 8 years or 100,000 miles, but this will vary by manufacturer and country.

Warranties are reassuring, and so too is the fact that battery costs are decreasing significantly year over year. Since 2010, the price of an average Lithium-ion battery pack has dropped by over 80%.

An automaker’s guarantee of their battery technology and the promise of decreasing costs should inspire some confidence. However, most of us would find more comfort knowing how quickly our batteries are expected to degrade and how to minimize this loss.

What is EV battery degradation?

Battery degradation is a natural process that permanently reduces the amount of energy a battery can store or the amount of power it can deliver. The batteries in EVs can generally deliver more power than the powertrain components can handle. As a result, power degradation is rarely observable in EVs, and only the loss of the battery’s ability to store energy matters.

A battery’s condition is called its state of health (SOH). Batteries start their life with 100% SOH, and over time they deteriorate. For example, a 60 kWh battery with 90% SOH would effectively act like a 54 kWh battery.
Keep in mind; this is not the same as vehicle range (the distance the vehicle can travel on those kWhs), which will fluctuate on a daily or trip-by-trip basis, depending on several factors including charge level, topography, temperature, auxiliary use, driving habits, and passenger or cargo load.

Common factors impacting Lithium-ion battery health:

  • Time
  • High temperatures
  • Operating at a high and low state of charge
  • High electric current
  • Usage (energy cycles)

While there has been plenty of research done on battery health, there has been very little data following EVs' real-world performance over time, let alone comparisons across different makes and models. Until now.

Introducing the EV Battery Degradation Tool

Geotab created the EV Battery Degradation Tool to assess how batteries have been holding up and consider the relative importance of EV battery life's above factors under real-world conditions. We analyzed the battery health of 6,300 fleet and consumer EVs, representing 1.8 million days of data. From the telematics data processed, we have gained insight into how real-world conditions influence electric vehicles' battery health, providing aggregated average degradation data for 21 distinct vehicle models, representing 64 makes, models, and years.

Notes about the tool:

  • The degradation curves displayed below are the average trend line from the data analyzed.
  • These graphs can offer insight into average battery health over time, but should not be interpreted as a precise prediction for any specific vehicle.

A subset of vehicle makes, models, and years are not available in the visualization tool – we have excluded vehicles with insufficient data, so don’t be alarmed if your car of choice is missing.

Get started with the tool.

For more information and to use the tool, see the Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation Tool page. 

Key takeaways

  • High levels of sustained battery health observed
  • First and foremost, based on data from over 6,000 electric vehicles, spanning all the major makes and models, batteries are exhibiting high levels of sustained health. If the observed degradation rates are maintained, the vast majority of batteries will outlast the vehicle's usable life.
  • Like us, health declines with age.

As you might expect, the older a vehicle is, the more likely its battery has deteriorated. However, when looking at the average decline across all vehicles, the loss is arguably minor, at 2.3% per year. This means that if you purchase an EV today with a 150-mile range, losing about 17 miles of accessible range after five years is unlikely to impact your day-to-day needs.

Is EV battery degradation linear?

While this tool shows more or less linear degradation, as a general rule, EV batteries are expected to decline non-linearly: an initial drop, which then continues to decline but at a far more moderate pace. Towards the end of its life, a battery will see a final significant drop, as seen below.

Tesla-battery-degradation-data-points-chart

Tesla battery degradation data-points chart

Why do some vehicle models seem to, on average, degrade faster than others?

Two potential contributors are:

  • battery chemistry
  • thermal management of the battery pack.

While EVs use Lithium-ion batteries, there are many different variations of Lithium-ion chemistries (the most prominent difference being the materials used for the electrodes). A battery’s chemical make-up will influence how it responds to stress. In addition to cell chemistry, temperature control techniques differ across vehicle models. A major distinction is if the battery pack is cooled and/or heated by air or by liquid.

Let’s compare a vehicle with a liquid cooling system to one with a passive air cooling system: the 2015 Tesla Model S and the 2015 Nissan Leaf, respectively. The Leaf has an average degradation rate of 4.2%, while the Model S is 2.3%. Good thermal management means better protection against degradation.

State of Charge (SOC) and the buffer effect

Another anticipated reason for the differences in battery health between manufacturers is how SOC is controlled. Operating a battery at near full or empty has implications on battery health. Many manufacturers add a buffer to limit this effect, effectively preventing access to the SOC's extreme ends.

In addition to the protection buffers at the top end and bottom end of the battery range, many vehicles provide the EV owner the option to stop normal daily charging at a level below 100%.

Did you know?

Removing extremes is not only done for battery health but also for safe vehicle operation. The battery wouldn’t accept or deliver full power at the extreme ends, and the driving experience would be impacted. In essence, a battery at 100% isn’t completely charged from a pure battery chemistry standpoint.

Similarly, 0% isn’t empty. Since the vehicle owner cannot access these parts of the battery range for safety and battery life reasons, many are likely unaware of it. Thanks to over-the-air software upgrades, it’s possible that the size of the buffer can change over time, as discovered by some Tesla owners in 2019, when they noticed a decrease in their top range. Tesla confirmed the upgrade was “to protect the battery and improve longevity.”

Besides, some automakers have adjustable-charge ceilings, where the user can pre-set at what point the battery stops charging (e.g., they can tell the vehicle to stop charging at 75% instead of 100%). This owner-discretionary region (B in the graphic above) works in combination with the non-discretionary buffer (A) to limit battery operation in areas of higher degradation. In later updates to the degradation tool, we intend to include the impact of the owner’s operation within this discretionary (B) region and the resulting impact on degradation rates.

Let’s consider an example:

The Chevrolet Volt, especially the early model years, has comparatively large top and bottom protection buffers (regions A and D) that dynamically change as the battery ages. While the larger buffers mean less energy for driving, it should result in a longer-lasting battery pack. Given the larger SOC buffers, liquid thermal management, and dynamic (decreasing) buffer size, slower than average degradation rates should be expected on the Volt.

What additional factors appear to influence battery health?

Based on the telematics data available, we evaluated battery degradation by different factors the vehicles were exposed to and see any correlation with health decline.

These factors included:

  • Use
  • Extreme climates
  • Charging type

High vehicle use does not equal higher battery degradation.

One exciting piece of information we were able to glean from the data was that vehicles with high use did not show significantly higher battery degradation. This should come as welcome news since you don’t get the benefit of an EV if it’s just sitting in the fleet yard.

The takeaway?

Don’t be afraid to put your EVs in high-use duty cycles. As long as they are within their daily driving range, their battery life won’t be negatively impacted. One caveat: if high use requires routine DC fast charging, be sure to read the section on the impact of charging type.

Vehicles driven in hot temperatures show a faster decline in battery SOH.

A battery exposed to scorching temperatures will be prone to more damage, but by how much? Will an EV in Arizona have a different battery life than the same car driven in Norway? To find out, we grouped the vehicles based on the following climate conditions:

Temperate: 

  • Fewer than 5 days per year over 80 F (27 C) or under 23 F (-5 C).
  • Hot: More than 5 days per year over 80 F (27 C).

Heat and cold weather also impacts your day-to-day range. To understand how to take a look at our Temperature Tool for EV Range.

Taking a look at charge type

We were able to look at the predominant charging level used for the EVs in our system. North American EV charging stations are categorized into three common types:

  • Level 1: 120 volt – a regular home outlet in North America.
  • Level 2: 240 volt – typical for home or fleet charging.

Direct current fast charger: DCFC – for faster top-ups.

Charging in most of Europe is referred to as AC charging (which is generally equivalent to Level 2 in North America) and DC charging (DCFC, as described above).

While Level 2 is often cited as the optimal way to charge an EV, the difference in battery health between cars that routinely charged on Level 2 as compared to those who used Level 1 appeared to be observable but was not beyond the level of statistical significance.

The use of DCFCs, however, does appear to impact the speed that batteries degrade. Rapidly charging a battery means high currents resulting in high temperatures, both known to strain batteries. In fact, many automakers suggest limiting the use of DCFC to prolong their vehicles’ battery life.

Here we look at all battery electric vehicles in the same climate group (we chose to look at the most susceptible group – those operating in extreme climate conditions), and categorized them based on how frequently they used a DCFC: Never, occasionally (1–3 times per month) and frequently (more than 3 times per month).

The difference between those vehicles that never used DCFC and those that occasionally used seasonal or hot climates was notable. While there may be other factors at play (we want to stress that this wasn’t a controlled experiment), charging via lower power Level 2 charging should be prioritized.

Tips to prolong your EV battery’s life

While battery degradation varies by model and external conditions – such as climate and charging type – most vehicles on the road, have not experienced a significant decline. In fact, overall degradation has been very modest, with an average capacity loss of just 2.3% per year. Under the ideal climate and charging conditions, the loss is 1.6%.

While some things are out of an operator’s control, there are ways you can extend the life of your EV’s battery.

Some tips for operating your EVs:

  • Avoid keeping your car sitting with a full or empty charge. Ideally, keep your SOC between 20–80% particularly when leaving it for longer periods, and only charge it fully for long-distance trips.
  • Minimize fast charging (DCFC). Some high-use duty cycles will need a faster charge, but if your vehicle sits overnight, level 2 should be sufficient for the majority of your charging needs.
  • Climate is out of an operator’s control, but do what you can to avoid scorching temperatures, such as choosing shade when parked on hot days.
  • High-use is not a concern, so fleets shouldn’t hesitate to put them to work. An EV isn’t useful sitting idle in the fleet yard, and putting on more miles per vehicle is overall a better fleet management practice.

Final thought

Don’t sweat the small stuff. As vehicles come out with larger battery packs, losing some capacity may not impact your day-to-day driving needs, and shouldn’t overshadow the many benefits EVs have to offer.

How To Plan A Road Trip With An Electric Car

Road tripping with an electric vehicle is different than with a gas car. You have to plan more. If you know how to do it, it's okay.

Plan Your Route Around Fast Chargers

First, you have to know where you can charge your car. Plan your road trip around available public chargers, near expressways, highways, and other roads. The thing is, you will spend more battery once you accelerate or going up hills. So, take into consideration that you will need a 10 percent buffer. Try to stick to fast chargers once you're on the road, you have to wait 30 - 40 minutes, and you're back on the road again, without any problems. Plan your trips manually or use an app like PlugShare. The app is a crowdsources directory with all available chargers near your location. It will save you a lot of time.

Look For Hotels With Charge Points

Save time during your trip is possible to stay at hotels which offer to charge your electric car. Nowadays, it is used more often. Generally, they are Level 2 chargers, so make sure to load your vehicle during your sleep. If the hotel does not have charging, ask the hotel staff if they have an outdoor plug to charge your car. Most electric vehicles have a Level 1 wall charger, which you can use with any standard wall socket.

Which Apps To Use To Find Public Chargers

What is the best way to find public chargers? In the United States, you have different charging networks, like ChargePoint and Electrify America. In Europe, we know Chargemap. You can buy a Chargemap pass, which allows you to charge your electric car on most European charging networks. You will find thousands of compatible charging stations near your location.

PlugShare For Most Public Chargers

PlugShare is a powered electric charger app in the community. Use this app to see which chargers are networked, non-networked, and home chargers open to the public. You can filter the chargers by connector type, speed, and if you have to pay for using them. The app can help you plan your trip and find chargers along the way. Type in your origin and destination and the app will show you all the chargers nearby. The app ChargePoint is also an advantage for the Tesla owners because it will show you all Tesla Destination Chargers, Superchargers, and all compatible chargers.

Click on PlugShare for charging points in your country

-ChargePoint+ Has Chargers Around The World

ChargePoint is one of the largest charging networks in the World, which offers chargers Level 2 and 3. You will find them in the big cities and on a few major highways. You can use the app to pay for charging. Note: not all chargers shown in the app are public.

Mobile phones, chargepoint

Click on -ChargePoint+ for charging points in your country.

Electrify America For DC Fast Chargers On Highways

Electrify America chargers has a significant network of fast chargers near large highways (near Walmart, Targets, and other shopping centers). Prices are reasonable, and you will get a discount by signing up for a membership ($4 per month). Using the chargers is super easy, and the costs are billed to your credit card. A disadvantage is that a few stations are unreliable. Some chargers can be out of service.

Hand, mobile phone
Click on Electrify America to download the app.

Carwow UK

Electric Car Charging Point Finder. An interactive Electric Car charging point finder tool to help EV and hybrid car owners find the nearest electric vehicle charging stations.

Click on: nearest electric vehicle charging station

Coming Soon: EV Passport For Unlimited Charging

Soon to come: EV Passport for electric car owners. With the passport, you charge up your vehicle unlimited for only $39 per month. You can check your battery status directly from your phone.

Earn Bonus Miles On Electric Car Charging

Once you're on the road, you usually have to pay for charging your car. So why not earn some miles while charging it? Most chargers do not have a code 'travel,' so you need to have a credit card to earn these miles. There a few of these cards on the market:

  • The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express (On the first $50,000 in purchase per year, you will get 2x Membership Rewards points; then 1x, giving you a 4% return based on TPG's valuation)
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% cash back/1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for a 3% return based on TPG's valuation)
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (On all purchases, you will get 2x miles, that will give you a 2.8% return based on TPG's valuations)

If you fill in a credit card request, you can use it to pay for charging your electric car.

Bottom Line

Road tripping with an electric vehicle is way different from a gas car, but you still have a lot of fun. You will save money, so you can see more during your trip or stay in fancier hotels. Also, consider the range and think of a 10 percent buffer with your battery. Plan your charge points on your trip so that you can enjoy your trip stress-free!

Cover photo by Jannes Glas

Before you go!

Recommended: Tesla Electric Cybertruck: Explorer’s Best Friend

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In our world, WhatsOrb refuses to turn away from the changes in our society and environment which succeeds each other at a rapid pace.

For WhatsOrb, publishing on the environment is a priority. We give reporting on climate, nature, waste, lifestyle and sustainable solutions the prominence it deserves.

At this turbulent time for ‘all’ species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on facts, not on political prejudice or business interests.

WhatsOrb Breaking News will be published as soon as urgent events from around the world and startling sustainable innovations reach us.

If there is anything we should know and publish about, please send a note to: [email protected] or write your own story on: www.whatsorb.comthe only news site which gives you a ‘sustainable voice!’

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More like this:

Electric Car Road Trips: The Ultimate Guide

Electric car road trips. Which electric car should you choose? You have to find an electric car suitable for your needs. Not all-electric cars are a perfect fit for road tripping. Take a few steps into consideration before purchasing an electric of a plug-in hybrid instead. This article is full of battery degradation information and tips & tricks on coping best with your EV-battery! A Road-Trip Capable Electric Car: The Criteria Buy a car that can meet up your needs with an appropriate range for road tripping. Do not purchase a model with an 80-mile range if you plan to take only 500+ mile road trips. If you do not mind stopping a few times to charge, the BMW i3 is an option. Do you want to avoid frequently charging? Think of a Tesla or Chevrolet Bolt. They are great for long-distance. Photo by 'Share Me.' BMW i3 Consider A Plug-In Hybrid Or Range-Extended Vehicle You may consider an electric car which is not entirely electric. You have two options: the range-extended electric vehicles and the plug-in hybrids. The latter have large batteries which can be charged externally. Generally, they have an electric action range of 15 to 50 miles and a full-size gas tank. But they do not have the whole electric driving experience. Then you have the range-extended electric cars, which are entirely electric with a small gas motor. The motor charges the car's battery to provide additional range while driving long distances. The range-extended vehicles give you the full-electric driving experience. Also, they have a fast charger and other EV-specific technology features. For a long time, the Toyota Yaris was the only supermini to come with a hybrid option, making it one of the cheapest ways to get a ‘hybrid’ badge. A Fiesta will excite keen drivers much more than the Yaris, but the hybrid is easy to drive and feels perfectly comfortable on a long motorway trip. Around 50mpg is promised, starting to look a little low, seeing as the Fiesta’s turbo petrol engines can manage this figure. The Yaris has an excellent reputation for reliability and a host of safety features, such as autonomous emergency braking, fitted as standard. DC Fast Charging Is Key For A Sane Road Trip Only buy a car, including DC fast charging, if you plan to take a road trip. For example, the BMW i3 can charge up to 80 percent in 45 minutes. They charge 50kw per hour. A vehicle without this option, but they only charge around 11kW per hour. So, this will take a lot of time when on-the-go. If you have to wait an hour to drive again, your trip will be extended. Luckily, most new electric cars are equipped with fast charging. Ensure you will get all the information to know if you're dealing with a new or older model. What is DC fast charging? “DC” refers to “direct current,” the type of power that batteries use. EVs have “onboard chargers” inside the car that convert AC power to DC for the battery. DC fast chargers convert AC power to DC within the charging station and deliver DC power directly to the battery, which is why they charge faster.   {youtube}                                              5 New Battery Technologies That Could CHANGE EVERYTHING   Recommended:  Tesla Battery Day: It Blows My Mind Check Battery Degradation When Buying A Used Car What can 6,000 electric vehicles tell us about EV battery health? Compare the average battery degradation for different vehicle makes and model years. How long does an electric car battery last? Use the free  EV Battery Degradation Tool  to compare the average battery degradation over time for different vehicle makes and model years. The importance of EV batteries If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV), there are some important factors to consider. These three questions are probably at the top of your list: How much will the EV cost? What is its range? How long will the battery last? From a life-cycle perspective, battery performance and health really are the key to it all. As the battery is an EV’s most expensive component, the degree of degradation will affect the vehicle’s residual value (which helps answer the cost question from above), and will also have a direct impact on the maximum usable range over time. How long will an EV battery last? You might have noticed that it is tough to get a straight answer to questions about an EV’s battery lifespan. What you may find instead are assurances that the warranty covers batteries should something go wrong. Typically, battery coverage is 8 years or 100,000 miles, but this will vary by manufacturer and country. Warranties are reassuring, and so too is the fact that battery costs are decreasing significantly year over year. Since 2010, the price of an average Lithium-ion battery pack has dropped by over 80%. An automaker’s guarantee of their battery technology and the promise of decreasing costs should inspire some confidence. However, most of us would find more comfort knowing how quickly our batteries are expected to degrade and how to minimize this loss. What is EV battery degradation? Battery degradation is a natural process that permanently reduces the amount of energy a battery can store or the amount of power it can deliver. The batteries in EVs can generally deliver more power than the powertrain components can handle. As a result, power degradation is rarely observable in EVs, and only the loss of the battery’s ability to store energy matters. A battery’s condition is called its state of health (SOH) . Batteries start their life with 100% SOH, and over time they deteriorate. For example, a 60 kWh battery with 90% SOH would effectively act like a 54 kWh battery. Keep in mind; this is not the same as vehicle range (the distance the vehicle can travel on those kWhs), which will fluctuate on a daily or trip-by-trip basis, depending on several factors including charge level, topography, temperature, auxiliary use, driving habits, and passenger or cargo load. Common factors impacting Lithium-ion battery health: Time High temperatures Operating at a high and low state of charge High electric current Usage (energy cycles) While there has been plenty of research done on battery health, there has been very little data following EVs' real-world performance over time, let alone comparisons across different makes and models. Until now. Introducing the EV Battery Degradation Tool Geotab created the EV Battery Degradation Tool to assess how batteries have been holding up and consider the relative importance of EV battery life's above factors under real-world conditions. We analyzed the battery health of 6,300 fleet and consumer EVs, representing 1.8 million days of data. From the telematics data processed, we have gained insight into how real-world conditions influence electric vehicles' battery health, providing aggregated average degradation data for 21 distinct vehicle models, representing 64 makes, models, and years. Notes about the tool: The degradation curves displayed below are the average trend line from the data analyzed. These graphs can offer insight into average battery health over time, but should not be interpreted as a precise prediction for any specific vehicle. A subset of vehicle makes, models, and years are not available in the visualization tool – we have excluded vehicles with insufficient data, so don’t be alarmed if your car of choice is missing. Get started with the tool. For more information and to use the tool, see the  Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation Tool  page.  Key takeaways High levels of sustained battery health observed First and foremost, based on data from over 6,000 electric vehicles, spanning all the major makes and models, batteries are exhibiting high levels of sustained health. If the observed degradation rates are maintained, the vast majority of batteries will outlast the vehicle's usable life. Like us, health declines with age. As you might expect, the older a vehicle is, the more likely its battery has deteriorated. However, when looking at the average decline across all vehicles, the loss is arguably minor, at 2.3% per year. This means that if you purchase an EV today with a 150-mile range, losing about 17 miles of accessible range after five years is unlikely to impact your day-to-day needs. Is EV battery degradation linear? While this tool shows more or less linear degradation, as a general rule, EV batteries are expected to decline non-linearly: an initial drop, which then continues to decline but at a far more moderate pace. Towards the end of its life, a battery will see a final significant drop, as seen below. Tesla battery degradation data-points chart Why do some vehicle models seem to, on average, degrade faster than others? Two potential contributors are: battery chemistry thermal management of the battery pack. While EVs use Lithium-ion batteries, there are many different variations of Lithium-ion chemistries (the most prominent difference being the materials used for the electrodes). A battery’s chemical make-up will influence how it responds to stress. In addition to cell chemistry, temperature control techniques differ across vehicle models. A major distinction is if the battery pack is cooled and/or heated by air or by liquid. Let’s compare a vehicle with a liquid cooling system to one with a passive air cooling system: the 2015 Tesla Model S and the 2015 Nissan Leaf, respectively. The Leaf has an average degradation rate of 4.2%, while the Model S is 2.3%. Good thermal management means better protection against degradation. State of Charge (SOC) and the buffer effect Another anticipated reason for the differences in battery health between manufacturers is how SOC is controlled. Operating a battery at near full or empty has implications on battery health. Many manufacturers add a buffer to limit this effect, effectively preventing access to the SOC's extreme ends. In addition to the protection buffers at the top end and bottom end of the battery range, many vehicles provide the EV owner the option to stop normal daily charging at a level below 100%. Did you know? Removing extremes is not only done for battery health but also for safe vehicle operation. The battery wouldn’t accept or deliver full power at the extreme ends, and the driving experience would be impacted. In essence, a battery at 100% isn’t completely charged from a pure battery chemistry standpoint. Similarly, 0% isn’t empty. Since the vehicle owner cannot access these parts of the battery range for safety and battery life reasons, many are likely unaware of it. Thanks to over-the-air software upgrades, it’s possible that the size of the buffer can change over time, as discovered by some Tesla owners in 2019, when they noticed a decrease in their top range. Tesla confirmed the upgrade was “to protect the battery and improve longevity.” Besides, some automakers have adjustable-charge ceilings, where the user can pre-set at what point the battery stops charging (e.g., they can tell the vehicle to stop charging at 75% instead of 100%). This owner-discretionary region (B in the graphic above) works in combination with the non-discretionary buffer (A) to limit battery operation in areas of higher degradation. In later updates to the degradation tool, we intend to include the impact of the owner’s operation within this discretionary (B) region and the resulting impact on degradation rates. Let’s consider an example: The Chevrolet Volt, especially the early model years, has comparatively large top and bottom protection buffers (regions A and D) that dynamically change as the battery ages. While the larger buffers mean less energy for driving, it should result in a longer-lasting battery pack. Given the larger SOC buffers, liquid thermal management, and dynamic (decreasing) buffer size, slower than average degradation rates should be expected on the Volt. What additional factors appear to influence battery health? Based on the telematics data available, we evaluated battery degradation by different factors the vehicles were exposed to and see any correlation with health decline. These factors included: Use Extreme climates Charging type High vehicle use does not equal higher battery degradation. One exciting piece of information we were able to glean from the data was that vehicles with high use did not show significantly higher battery degradation. This should come as welcome news since you don’t get the benefit of an EV if it’s just sitting in the fleet yard. The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to put your EVs in high-use duty cycles. As long as they are within their daily driving range, their battery life won’t be negatively impacted. One caveat: if high use requires routine DC fast charging, be sure to read the section on the impact of charging type. Vehicles driven in hot temperatures show a faster decline in battery SOH. A battery exposed to scorching temperatures will be prone to more damage, but by how much? Will an EV in Arizona have a different battery life than the same car driven in Norway? To find out, we grouped the vehicles based on the following climate conditions: Temperate:  Fewer than 5 days per year over 80 F (27 C) or under 23 F (-5 C). Hot: More than 5 days per year over 80 F (27 C). Heat and cold weather also impacts your day-to-day range. To understand how to take a look at our  Temperature Tool for EV Range . Taking a look at charge type We were able to look at the predominant charging level used for the EVs in our system. North American EV charging stations are categorized into three common types: Level 1: 120 volt – a regular home outlet in North America. Level 2: 240 volt – typical for home or fleet charging. Direct current fast charger: DCFC – for faster top-ups. Charging in most of Europe is referred to as AC charging (which is generally equivalent to Level 2 in North America) and DC charging (DCFC, as described above). While Level 2 is often cited as the optimal way to charge an EV, the difference in battery health between cars that routinely charged on Level 2 as compared to those who used Level 1 appeared to be observable but was not beyond the level of statistical significance. The use of DCFCs, however, does appear to impact the speed that batteries degrade. Rapidly charging a battery means high currents resulting in high temperatures, both known to strain batteries. In fact, many automakers suggest limiting the use of DCFC to prolong their vehicles’ battery life. Here we look at all battery electric vehicles in the same climate group (we chose to look at the most susceptible group – those operating in extreme climate conditions), and categorized them based on how frequently they used a DCFC: Never, occasionally (1–3 times per month) and frequently (more than 3 times per month). The difference between those vehicles that never used DCFC and those that occasionally used seasonal or hot climates was notable. While there may be other factors at play (we want to stress that this wasn’t a controlled experiment), charging via lower power Level 2 charging should be prioritized. Tips to prolong your EV battery’s life While battery degradation varies by model and external conditions – such as climate and charging type – most vehicles on the road, have not experienced a significant decline. In fact, overall degradation has been very modest, with an average capacity loss of just 2.3% per year. Under the ideal climate and charging conditions, the loss is 1.6%. While some things are out of an operator’s control, there are ways you can extend the life of your EV’s battery. Some tips for operating your EVs: Avoid keeping your car sitting with a full or empty charge. Ideally, keep your SOC between 20–80% particularly when leaving it for longer periods, and only charge it fully for long-distance trips. Minimize fast charging (DCFC). Some high-use duty cycles will need a faster charge, but if your vehicle sits overnight, level 2 should be sufficient for the majority of your charging needs. Climate is out of an operator’s control, but do what you can to avoid scorching temperatures, such as choosing shade when parked on hot days. High-use is not a concern, so fleets shouldn’t hesitate to put them to work. An EV isn’t useful sitting idle in the fleet yard, and putting on more miles per vehicle is overall a better fleet management practice. Final thought Don’t sweat the small stuff. As vehicles come out with larger battery packs, losing some capacity may not impact your day-to-day driving needs, and shouldn’t overshadow the many benefits EVs have to offer. How To Plan A Road Trip With An Electric Car Road tripping with an electric vehicle is different than with a gas car. You have to plan more. If you know how to do it, it's okay. Plan Your Route Around Fast Chargers First, you have to know where you can charge your car. Plan your road trip around available public chargers, near expressways, highways, and other roads. The thing is, you will spend more battery once you accelerate or going up hills. So, take into consideration that you will need a 10 percent buffer. Try to stick to fast chargers once you're on the road, you have to wait 30 - 40 minutes, and you're back on the road again, without any problems. Plan your trips manually or use an app like PlugShare. The app is a crowdsources directory with all available chargers near your location. It will save you a lot of time. Look For Hotels With Charge Points Save time during your trip is possible to stay at hotels which offer to charge your electric car. Nowadays, it is used more often. Generally, they are Level 2 chargers, so make sure to load your vehicle during your sleep. If the hotel does not have charging, ask the hotel staff if they have an outdoor plug to charge your car. Most electric vehicles have a Level 1 wall charger, which you can use with any standard wall socket. Which Apps To Use To Find Public Chargers What is the best way to find public chargers? In the United States, you have different charging networks, like ChargePoint and Electrify America. In Europe, we know Chargemap. You can buy a Chargemap pass, which allows you to charge your electric car on most European charging networks. You will find thousands of compatible charging stations near your location. PlugShare For Most Public Chargers PlugShare is a powered electric charger app in the community. Use this app to see which chargers are networked, non-networked, and home chargers open to the public. You can filter the chargers by connector type, speed, and if you have to pay for using them. The app can help you plan your trip and find chargers along the way. Type in your origin and destination and the app will show you all the chargers nearby. The app ChargePoint is also an advantage for the Tesla owners because it will show you all Tesla Destination Chargers, Superchargers, and all compatible chargers. Click on PlugShare for charging points in your country -ChargePoint+ Has Chargers Around The World ChargePoint is one of the largest charging networks in the World, which offers chargers Level 2 and 3. You will find them in the big cities and on a few major highways. You can use the app to pay for charging. Note: not all chargers shown in the app are public. Click on -ChargePoint+ for charging points in your country. Electrify America For DC Fast Chargers On Highways Electrify America chargers has a significant network of fast chargers near large highways (near Walmart, Targets, and other shopping centers). Prices are reasonable, and you will get a discount by signing up for a membership ($4 per month). Using the chargers is super easy, and the costs are billed to your credit card. A disadvantage is that a few stations are unreliable. Some chargers can be out of service. Click on Electrify America  to download the app. Carwow UK Electric Car Charging Point Finder. An interactive Electric Car charging point finder tool to help EV and hybrid car owners find the nearest electric vehicle charging stations. Click on:  nearest electric vehicle charging station Coming Soon: EV Passport For Unlimited Charging Soon to come: EV Passport for electric car owners. With the passport, you charge up your vehicle unlimited for only $39 per month. You can check your battery status directly from your phone. Earn Bonus Miles On Electric Car Charging Once you're on the road, you usually have to pay for charging your car. So why not earn some miles while charging it? Most chargers do not have a code 'travel,' so you need to have a credit card to earn these miles. There a few of these cards on the market: The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express (On the first $50,000 in purchase per year, you will get 2x Membership Rewards points; then 1x, giving you a 4% return based on TPG's valuation) Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% cash back/1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for a 3% return based on TPG's valuation) Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (On all purchases, you will get 2x miles, that will give you a 2.8% return based on TPG's valuations) If you fill in a credit card request, you can use it to pay for charging your electric car. Bottom Line Road tripping with an electric vehicle is way different from a gas car, but you still have a lot of fun. You will save money, so you can see more during your trip or stay in fancier hotels. Also, consider the range and think of a 10 percent buffer with your battery. Plan your charge points on your trip so that you can enjoy your trip stress-free! Cover photo by Jannes Glas Before you go! Recommended:  Tesla Electric Cybertruck: Explorer’s Best Friend Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about electric cars? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to  [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
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