How to care for your electric car in the long term and get the best battery life from it

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Charlen Raymond
  • Electric vehicle (EV) uptake is expected to increase in SA as more affordable models become available.
  • How you charge and care for your vehicle's battery has a direct impact on its lifespan.
  • There are several techniques you can use to preserve the life of your EV's battery pack.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24


Interest in electric vehicles (EV) is growing in South Africa. While there are less than 1500 full-electric new vehicles on the road in SA, the number grows steadily, and OEMs are confident that as new, more affordable, models arrive more motorists will embrace electrification.

It's often reported that electric cars are bliss to live with. After all, you don't have to worry about oil changes or engine filter replacements. An EV requires servicing and maintenance, but it's a more straightforward affair. It's touted that if you drive an EV, you don't have to worry about it at all; charge it and go.

bmw,mini,electric
Mini Cooper electric (Press Club/ BMW SA)


One key area of the EV that does require your attention, however, as an owner or potential owner, is battery care and maintenance. As you'll know, with laptops and smartphones, the batteries in our devices eventually become tired. They drain faster as they get older, and they don't provide the performance they did when new. It's the same with EVs. As an electric vehicle's (or hybrid vehicle's) battery ages, its battery pack will deteriorate.

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So what can you do to ensure that your battery-powered car stays fit and healthy for many years to come? You can use several techniques to preserve the battery's life in the vehicle, which we learned about from Roberto Bruzzaniti, co-founder of EV Charge. His business is a specialist provider of electric vehicle charging solutions for South African homes and businesses. Here are his hints on tips on how to get more life out of your electric car for the long run.

Porsche Taycan
2021 Porsche Taycan


Do you drive an EV? What make and model? Is it meeting your expectations and needs? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or drop us an email here.


1. Don't charge an EV to 100%

Try to keep your battery percentage between 20 per cent and 80 per cent to ensure that you maximise its lifespan. Charging an EV to 100 per cent will give you the best possible range, but the battery will deteriorate faster as the chemicals in the battery work harder to hold that 100 per cent charge. The charging system also generates more heat if you charge it to 100 per cent, and heat is not a good thing for the battery in an EV as it also shortens the battery's lifespan.

2. Plug-in you EV once it has cooled off

We've touched on heat already, and it's important because you should try to charge your car when it's cooled down a bit. The lithium ions in an EV's battery pack are extremely sensitive to heat, and it's best practice to let the car cool down for a while after a long or spirited drive to ensure you aren't blasting a hot battery with more hot energy. EVs have sophisticated cooling systems to keep themselves cool, but those systems can become overwhelmed on a hot summer day. It's essential to consider the impact of heat on EVs in South Africa.

3. Try to avoid fast charging your EV

While direct current (DC) fast chargers, like those big box chargers you see at malls and airports, can help you top up much faster, these high-energy systems hurt the lifespan of a battery. Manufacturers build in the necessary safety measures to ensure that you can still use DC chargers all the time if you prefer, but the reality is that the chemicals in the battery pack don't like being zapped with heavy loads of current.

AC charging works best if you're looking to get the best life from your EV battery. You can use an AC charger at home (7.4kW) to charge most EVs that are on sale in South Africa from 20 per cent to 80 per cent overnight to ensure you always have enough range for the next day.

jaguar i-pace
2020 SA Car of the Year, Jaguar I-Pace. Image: Motorpress

There are numerous techniques you can use to preserve your EV's battery life. These are just some of them. It's best to talk to your dealer about how your specific vehicle's battery can be cared for in the long term.

Some EVs have built-in technologies that enable you to set a charging limit to ensure you aren't overcharging it. Others will have connected technologies that you can use to monitor the battery charge state from your smartphone.

If you're looking to avoid exorbitant battery replacement costs, it's advised to care for your battery from day one.

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