Categories: Environment

Occasion: precautions before going electric

If the mechanical parts of electric cars require little maintenance and age less quickly than those of their thermal counterparts, the traction battery is, conversely, quite sensitive. As in a smartphone, it can undergo premature aging depending on use, charging cycles and storage, and thus lose its capacity.

Something to consider when purchasing…

Conduct your investigation

Certain habits accelerate the degradation of the battery: too high temperatures, rapid charges… As for prolonged parking (several months) with empty batteries, it can be fatal. Beware of models that have remained disconnected from the park!

Interview the seller to determine what use the vehicle has been subjected to and how it has been stored. Was it parked in direct sunlight during heat waves? Was it usually charged on fast terminals (50 kW and more)? Has he slept unloaded in a parking lot?

To preserve the battery (especially if it is lithium-ion, the most frequent case), some precautions, still unknown, are necessary. It is considered that a battery often left with less than 20% or more than 80% charge degrades more quickly. For example, in the event of a long journey, it is better to “fill up” the battery to 100% at the last moment. Also, keep in mind that fast charging heats up the battery cells. They should therefore be reserved for special occasions.

On a daily basis, slow charges will preserve the car much more.

Note that some vehicles should be avoided, despite their affordable prices, because of their battery technology. This is the case with the Bluecar and the Citroën E-Mehari, whose LMP (lithium metal polymer) batteries are empty when they are not plugged in: 48 hours of rest are enough to empty them!

Test the battery

Tools available to individuals exist to check the state of the battery.

They reveal the actual condition of the batteries, starting with their SOH (State of Health), ie their remaining storage capacity, expressed as a percentage. This SOH also makes it possible to trigger the replacement of a battery under warranty if its charge capacity is below a certain level.

The French company Moba (formerly La Belle Batterie, on Get-moba.com) thus provides a “kit” for €49 including the box to be plugged in and the certificate with the results of its diagnosis. A reasonable sum, given the cost of replacing a battery, for a seller wishing to reassure a buyer as well as for a buyer wishing to validate his choice.

Moba’s diagnosis determines, thanks to the SOH, the remaining theoretical autonomy according to the type of route (city, motorway, mixed) and the temperature. On the Nissan Leaf and Tesla, it also indicates the percentage of fast charges received. Another major and unknown piece of information provided by this diagnosis is the number of reprogrammings already carried out to recover some capacity. Indeed, on some models, Zoe in mind, you can act on the BMS (Battery Management System), a computer that manages the battery cells, in order to optimize the charging and discharging phases. The operation makes it possible to gain in SOH, and therefore in autonomy, but it does not correct the degradation of the cells. It may delay the replacement of batteries under warranty and can only be performed twice.

We were thus able to observe that a Zoe Q210 from the end of 2015, with only 32,500 km, presented an SOH of 65%, just below the threshold of 66% provided for by the guarantee to change the battery. The result is a range of approximately 80 km in winter and 100 km in summer, compared to a maximum of 130 km (according to our lab) when leaving the factory.

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