Optimizing Lithium-ion Battery Life for Electric Cars

electric car battery lifespan

The driver can recover the battery’s capacity with each charging cycle.

An investigation has analyzed how long the electric batteries of more than 15,000 car drivers last and has concluded that only 8% have changed them after 10 years. These figures are positive even taking into account LG Chem’s production of defective batteries in models such as the Chevrolet Volt or the Hyundai Kona.

Current lithium-ion batteries stand out for their reliability. Only 1.5% of drivers have replaced them since purchasing their electric car. In most cases, there has not even been a breakdown, but rather the degradation of the materials has caused the battery’s autonomy to become increasingly shorter.

A study from Stanford University seems to have found the key to understanding what factors favor the degradation of lithium-ion batteries. This component is one of the most expensive in the vehicle, so it is more important than ever to understand how to improve its life cycle.

The driver can manage the battery capacity with each charge cycle

Lithium batteries could double the current autonomy in the next generation, but they face a problem that is difficult to solve: the capacity to store energy decreases after the first charging cycles. This can be a problem for drivers who expect their vehicle to last a few years in perfect condition.

The solution may be to change the metals that are integrated into the batteries, although the technology of current batteries is so advanced that it would be complex to develop a project that can compete in prices in the coming years. Research has concluded that the most realistic option is to optimize charging cycles.

A trick that can increase long-term autonomy is to drain the battery and let it sit for a few hours, then charge it as usual. This practice allows the component to recover the lost capacity, which will increase its life cycle.

These improvements can be integrated by default by reprogramming the battery software, saving considerably on repair costs and designing new, more efficient models. The goal is for the electric cars of the future to be so efficient that they become the preferred option for drivers in the coming years, said Yi Cui, lead author of the study.