If you drive an electric car, it’s only natural that you have some questions about your battery. How long will it last? What is the best way to recharge it? What can you do to extend its life? Honestly, few of us understand much about batteries. All we know is that when they fail, everything stops.
Part of the reason people are concerned is that there are many battery-related issues in cell phones and laptops, which force people to go out and buy new batteries after a few years of use. Then there was Nissan’s problem with the batteries failing in some of its first Leaf electric cars. And don’t forget the instigators and opponents who gossip Nausea In the press and on social media about all the things wrong with electric vehicles.
So, if you have questions and concerns about electric car batteries, you’re not alone. people in wired I decided to have a conversation with Qichao Hu, a Harvard and MIT graduate who is the CEO of SES, a battery research company focused on developing lithium-metal batteries and artificial intelligence systems to better monitor the health of batteries.
Hu explained that there are two types of batteries commonly used today in electric cars – lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and nickel-manganese cobalt (NMC). LFP batteries are less expensive – especially now when the price of nickel and manganese has increased dramatically – and tend to have a longer useful life. However, NMC batteries have a higher energy density and are the preferred choice for vehicles with higher performance expectations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Vehicle Batteries
We like to think that all batteries have roughly the same useful life, but he said wired The same battery can have a completely different life or performance level depending on the vehicle in which it is used. “Different cars in different designs, different price ranges, different users and behaviors… It’s hard to say that one car is better than the other car because of all these factors. From a battery perspective, it’s really these two camps, the nickel-free LFP or the high-nickel NCM “.
wired Hu asked if it was possible to top up the battery in an electric car. “Yes, sure,” he said. “Definitely across the board you don’t want to fully charge it or fully deplete it. You want to avoid less than 10 percent and more than 90 percent. You don’t want to go from fully charged to completely empty.” This is where artificial intelligence comes into play. Unlike cell phones, electric vehicles constantly monitor their batteries to control charging and battery degradation.
Hu also said that charging an electric vehicle in cold weather not only shortens the battery’s life, but can actually damage it. It is suggested that you drive around to warm up first instead of charging your car out of complete cold. Many manufacturers – primarily Tesla – use a portion of the energy stored in the battery to keep it warm, reducing the negative impact of charging in cold weather.
He added that the cold can have a significant impact on how far a car can drive before it needs to be recharged. Hu said he can drive 300 miles in his Tesla Model 3 at 70 mph, but if it’s cold and he increases his speed to 80 mph, the range drops to about 170 miles. “At high power and low temperature, the (battery) capacity is much lower.”
A frequent question electric car owners ask is whether frequent charging is bad for their batteries. Hu Jintao said wired Owners shouldn’t worry too much about how often a rechargeable battery can be charged and exhausted in its life span. He explained that manufacturers adjust the way a car uses its battery as the car ages, “based on time, temperature, and your driving behavior; it’s all done automatically by software,” Hu says. His company is one of the main suppliers of such battery monitoring software.
He says this process happens constantly in most electric vehicles, with battery health data being sent anonymously to a central analysis system. The system determines whether the battery is in good health or is near a point of danger and needs treatment protocols. “These risk situations can be detected a few weeks to months before a catastrophic failure occurs,” he said.
Does Tesla have a battery advantage?
Tesla uses LFP and NMC batteries to power its cars. He also spends a lot of money on battery research. Hu says the advantage Tesla has over other auto companies is that it makes its own batteries, while most other automakers don’t. This gives Tesla a “data and software advantage. You collect data from battery manufacturing and once the battery is installed in cars. If you think of a battery as a person, you have data from before birth to after birth, how they age and grow.”
All of this data allows Tesla to build models that predict safety issues and track a vehicle’s carbon footprint, Hu said, which is necessary to meet regulations in some countries.
When will the next electric car battery breakthrough happen?
Hu Jintao said large-scale battery innovations only happen every 30 years. The next big upheaval in electric car battery technology is expected very soon. His company is heavily involved in the research of lithium-metal batteries. They are similar to current lithium-ion batteries but will have “higher density, higher range, and lower cost.” He believes artificial intelligence and other technologies will also improve the batteries themselves, while increasing performance and safety. “I think it’s a combination of new hardware and software breakthroughs,” he said.
Finally, Hu claimed that the cost of batteries is likely to fall as more raw materials used to make them are recycled, such as lithium, cobalt, and copper. For example, Ford and Volvo recently joined a program to start EV battery recycling in partnership with Redwood Materials, a battery recycling company started by former Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel.
“In the future, you can think of the car as mine. We will be less dependent on everything that happens with global raw material prices.” This is an important consideration, given that the price of nickel has doubled in the past month.
Of course, people are concerned about electric cars that run on batteries. If there’s a battery issue, all you have is a beautiful piece of industrial sculpture in your garage or driveway. But all manufacturers warrant their batteries for at least 8 years, and the results of billions of miles of real-world experience is that batteries have a much longer life than manufacturers ever expected.
Tesla talks about “million miles” batteries, and CATL says it plans to beat that goal. To sum up, electric cars have proven to be more reliable with a longer life span than conventional gasoline and diesel cars. The bottom line, then, is: drive an electric car. Be happy.
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