Real Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicle batteries with long life

Feb 27, 2018

Some battery packs on certain vehicles last a life time. others don't

I have been driving Electric Vehicles for over 20 years. I have found some battery packs last a lifetime while others don’t. After buying and leasing many Electrics along with feedback from friends I have found out the key difference. I won’t tease you and make you wait until the end of the article to find out the answer. It’s Liquid Cooled battery packs and controllers along with good Lithium Chemistry.

The first Electric vehicle I had was a Chevy S-10 pickup truck. It had sealed Lead batteries that may last 3-5 years but degraded each year. The one I had used a AC motor that was huge. The Controller that was also the charger was pretty big too and water cooled. As you know lead acid batteries don’t last too long just from the one’s you have seen and use in any car as the starter battery. Many only last 2-5 years. It’s very ironic that new electric vehicles still use a small sealed LEAD battery as a starter battery.

After the Chevy S-10 I had a few conversions and all of them also had LEAD based batteries. None of them lasted a long time or charged very fast. A few S-10’s were made with the AC controller and NiMH batteries with better range but they could not survive the HEAT in the Phoenix area. The batteries had no cooling.

In 2011 When the Nissan LEAF came out I have to get one and see how it ran. I got one of the 1st and it was great for the 1st year until HEAT started WILTING the battery capacity. I had a WHITE LEAF to keep it cooler, I only charged to 80% and I never FAST charged even though I got that port as an option. I still lost 15% capacity and range the 1st year. It was just as bad the 2nd year so I sold it back to Nissan after complaining and documenting the big loss.

Since Nissan said they improved the battery checmisty for their new 2013 HEAT Tolerance battery pack (I called it the Lizard pack) I leased the 2013. It was just as bad as the 2011. I returned it at the end of the lease. I was very disappointed and but a liquid cooled FORD Focus EV. The battery was like new after driving it on the lease for 3 years. So liquid cooled seemed the best.

I then leased a 2015 KIA SOUL EV with air cooling. It started out great but finally the battery capacity dropped by 30-40 miles over night from the HEAT. In fact the controller SHUT DOWN twice when my wife was driving home from work on 120F days. It was great in the cooler 100F mornings but died after about 10 miles on her 12 mile trip home.

I have also had and tested a Chevy SPARK EV and 2012 Tesla S 85 both with liquid cooling and no heat problems. A friend with the Spark EV had it drop to 35 mph only on a hot day. He took it in and Chevy found a water pump had failed. They replaced it and it has been perfect since. The Tesla and Chevy show no signs of capacity loss even after 4-5 years. It’s a 10x improvement over no cooling or using air that doesn’t cut it in any warm climate.

The cars without liquid cooling I have seen the battery fail in from 1-3 years. With the liquid cooled they show they will last 20-30 years. I consider a loss of 80% or more a failure. Nissan says 40% loss or more and KIA says 30% or more loss.

Even if you live in a cooler place you can expect more loss without liquid cooling. If you DC Fast charge a lot and put lots of miles on you’ll see it faster than most. In Phoenix we see it first along with Southern Georgia and Death Valley California.

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