In mechanical terms, electric vehicles are much simpler than combustion-powered ones, especially when it comes to their very robust motors. But it is their high voltage batteries that raise certain questions: how do they age, and how quickly do they lose charge? Masato Origuchi, Chief Battery Engineer for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicles at Renault reassures us: “While the batteries in electric cars, cell phones, and computers all use the same [lithium ion] technology, the high quality of the battery cells used in automobiles is a world apart!” Our expert clarifies: “The self-discharge of a battery in Renault ZOE, in other words the loss of charge when the car is parked but not plugged in, is imperceptible over time.” You probably can’t say the same for your smartphone…
While the batteries in electric cars, cell phones, and computers all use the same [lithium ion] technology, the high quality of the battery cells used in automobiles is a world apart!
Masato Origuchi, Chief Battery Engineer for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Groupe Renault
When you plug in your electric car, the charger “fills it up” to 100%, then stops. Once fully charged, there is no need to leave the car plugged in anymore.
However, leaving the battery fully charged for an extended period of time is not recommended. In fact, it could actually accelerate the wear on battery cells. The best option is to charge your battery to no more than 50% before leaving your car parked for an extended period of time.
That said, it is best not to leave the battery completely empty either, so that it can regularly recharge the small 12V battery that powers the car’s various accessories. With Renault ZOE, we recommend a minimum charge of 20%. This way, the car will be ready to drive right away, without needing to be charged first.
If there is one thing lithium ion batteries don’t like, it’s hot weather. In extreme cases, when the temperature exceeds 40 degrees, there is a small but irreversible loss of the battery’s total capacity. This decrease in capacity is relatively insignificant, however. It is primarily the cycles of charging and discharging that wear out the batteries. Nevertheless, we do recommend storing your electric car in a place protected from sun and extreme heat, just like you would do with any vehicle!
“On the other hand,” clarifies Masato Origuchi, “batteries are unaffected by the cold: a northern European climate is ideal for preserving them.” As a general rule, therefore, the best option is to park your car underground or somewhere else where it is protected from the weather.
Lastly, as you would do with any vehicle, it is advisable to move an electric car by a foot or two from time to time to avoid forming flat patches on the tires.
Electric cars can handle extended periods of inactivity very well, even better than combustion-powered engines, in fact, whose 12V batteries can lose charge, and whose fluids and radiator hoses can become damaged. But if you really want to pamper your electric car, simply charge your battery to between 20 and 50%, don’t leave it exposed to high temperatures for months and… that’s it! It’ll be ready to go in a flash when the time comes to drive it again.
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