Exploring the issues around electric vehicle battery health

June 2, 2023

Our in-house EV infrastructure specialist Paul Reeves reflects on the recent BVRLA Battery Health Deep Dive event

Exploring the issues around electric vehicle battery health

Over one hundred delegates, including Gofor’s account manager and EV infrastructure specialist Paul Reeves, attended the latest BVRLA Battery Health Deep Dive event in London; a seminar exploring the issues around electric vehicle battery health and confidence.

The keynote speaker was Dr Billy Wu, Senior Lecturer at Imperial College, who works on electrochemical devices and manufacturing. Dr Wu was joined by expert speakers from the Department for Transport, About: Energy, Altelium, Bosch, ClearWatt, Elysia, Faraday Battery Challenge, GeoTab and Moba.

Battery health is a major talking point, particularly amongst used vehicle buyers and more broadly across the fleet sector, with the seminar covering topics including:

  • Battery technology, management and degradation
  • Battery health checks, certificates or standards
  • Latest perspectives on the used BEV market from Autotrader Insights

In this article, Paul shares his key takeaways on some of the seminar’s main talking points.

Battery degradation 

This is a complex area with many factors to take into account, mainly around the makeup of batteries. The top 5 factors cited were:

  1. Temperature
  2. Depth of discharge
  3. Charging rates
  4. Battery cell design
  5. Age

There was a lot of discussion around degradation v charging within the panel discussion. Keeping the battery fully charge is a key factor in accelerating degradation, with 85% state-of-charge cited as the optimum between energy and lifetime was generally regarded as a sensible approach, borne out by a number of studies in this area.

Sustainability was also on the agenda, with Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries emerging as a lower cost more sustainable battery alternative, and one that already being used by some manufacturers.

Barriers for electric vehicle adoption 

There continues to be a number of barriers that stand in the way of companies and their propensity to fleet electrification. The seminar detailed some survey findings here, with the two barriers of most relevance to our customers being:

  • 3 in 4 drivers cite the cost of an electric vehicle as a significant barrier. When discussing cost with our customers, we encourage them to think about the Whole of Life cost savings when looking at electric v ICE vehicles, which typically do work out in favour of EVs. Factors such as salary sacrifice for electric vehicles and Benefit In Kind tax initiatives also help reduce electric vehicle costs
  • Battery life, where 40% of those surveyed worrying about this. However, there was some interesting studies discussed to counter this concern, including one manufacturer’s long term battery life test where the EV battery was still performing at 90% of its original capacity after 8 years/ 200,000 miles, showing that EV batteries can stand the test of time and continued use

Best practice electric vehicle charging

It was great to leave the seminar with some genuine, real life use cases around best practice electric vehicle charging.

When it comes to battery degradation, here’s our top 4 behaviours to adopt to maximise EV battery efficiencies.

  • Charge and store when the battery is cold, ideally not straight after driving
  • Charge your vehicle as slowly as possible, avoiding fast/rapid charging where possible.
  • Store your battery at a maximum of 85%. Electric vehicles do not need not be charged to 100%, and you should avoid being left unused for a prolonged period of time.
  • Driving efficiency, namely how you drive your vehicle, plays a big part in battery performance. Put simply, aggressive high-mileage drivers will need to charge more, and, if available, using ‘chill’ or other ‘efficiency’ driving modes can make a real difference.

Concluding thoughts  

The latest BVRLA Battery Health Deep seminar was another important milestone in the fleet electrification journey, events like this are crucial to identifying, and ultimately removing the barriers that many companies face, perceived or real.

Battery technology is improving, with manufacturers placing significant investment incharging range and speed, charge point infrastructure is gaining greater investment, and there’s more information than ever about the steps that drivers can take to maximise their EV battery health.

Interested in reading more about fleet electrification? Check out another of Paul’s articles that looks at EV infrastructure.

You can download the Battery Health event presentation on the BVRLA website here.

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