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Understanding an Electric Vehicle

What do all these acronyms mean?

ICE – Internal Combustion Engine ( You go to a gas station to fill up) – Most cars

HEV – Hybrid Electric Vehicle ( Has a gasoline engine + a battery) – Toyota Prius

PHEV – Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle ( Gasoline engine with a plug in chargeable battery) – Chev Volt

EV – Electric Vehicle ( No gasoline engine, just functions on a battery) Nissan Leaf

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle ( Our industry confusing people, same as EV) Chev Bolt / Nissan Leaf

The Basics

ICE engine no need to explain. PHEV electric vehicles  also have a combustion engine that can act as a generator, which in turn charges the battery for more range. In this case you have a combustion car that also has a small battery and relatively weak electric motor that can turn the wheels in fully electric mode for a few miles. 

Another term you may hear is a HEV, hybrid or mild hybrid. These are 100% combustion-powered vehicles that have a minuscule battery and tiny electric motor that can assist the gasoline engine or keep the car moving at low speeds on relatively flat ground. These are not electric cars.

BEV or EV, are powered by electricity. They require the owner to plug it into a charging station, or outlet to gain capacity for distance. EV battery is consumed when accelerating, going uphill or when crawling in traffic and operation you do removes energy. They generate or create for simpler terms power through kinetic energy recovery while in use.  Going down hill, slowing down, or braking all charge the battery to some extent.

EV Batteries

Basically, we have batteries in everything. it’s the same idea for Electric Vehicles. What we refer to in an EV as its battery is in fact a whole load of batteries connected in one big battery pack!  Gets more complicated to explain different manufactures designs and the on going evolution of change occurring. 

Batteries are what give people “range anxiety”. The fear of your car dying somewhere because the battery depleted and can’t go any further.  Somehow we picture it as a left hand turn at an intersection or in the passing lane on the Highway 401. This shouldn’t happen as you have numerous warning systems to advise you of the low system charge well before you place yourself in this situation.

Why does range anxiety happen? 

Typically, due to failure to fully charge a battery before the required usage.  An ICE engine vehicle has a fuel gauge, you know a full tank gets you XXX kilometers.  An EV’s has a “Guess–O– Meter” I call it.  The computer calculates usage of the vehicle and estimates what it feels the mileage on a fully charged battery will be.  So many issues impact this. How you drive? Maybe multiple drivers sharing the same car with different habits. Like braking, accelerating, highway versus city, uphill drives, downhill drives all impact the estimated calculation on distance. Doing your homework on range estimation for a brand is critical. The technology in battery range evolves at an exponential rate every year. If you don’t want range anxiety purchase a PHEV or a HEV.

Charging 

We charge our cars is by plugging them in. You can charge your car on slower AC units that you have at home or at work, and you can even plug them into a domestic 110V socket. These chargers vary from about 2 kW up to about 22kW in general. But you can also charge your car much faster on DC power. Some cars such as the IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 can charge well above 200kW, effectively giving you another 3 or 4 hundred kilometers range in about 20 minutes!

Level 1: Ordinary household plug. No extra installation issues. Just plug in and go. Slow process. The Sils Complete Auto Repair 2015 Nissan Leaf with a 24Kwh battery to charge from empty to full, can take 8-10 hours to charge. This gives me about 70-90 kilometers of drive time on average.

Level 2: It’s a dryer style plug or oven. Big outlet 240V. Faster charge times, suitable for overnight charging. Typical home station charging terminal installed by an electrician at your home. Requires special installation, and proper fuse panel circuit compatibility.

Level 3: Fastest charging method. Found along highway routes for quick charging.  Like going for a fuel fill up along the 401 but not for fuel.  Some charging stations are Super Chargers like for Tesla with rates up to 250Kwh.

Comment on charging in my experience. Whatever car you purchase research should be done into what charging method is best. What is ideal and what charging station do you require if any.   Our 2015 Nissan Leaf here with a 24Kwh battery prefers Level 1 charging. They are well known for battery degradation, and temperature issues causing premature battery failures with the faster charging methods. Temperature is their weak point.

 

Maintenance and Service for EV or BEV

Talking with customers here at Sils Complete Auto Care Centre, the most common reasons for purchasing an EV is:

1) No more fuel purchases

2) No more maintenance.

OK, fuel I agree with. There will be an electricity charge from pulling power from the grid overnight when charging.

Maintenance is another matter. EV still require routing maintenance and some systems require even further care. Even though there is no engine there is still many moving parts and systems functioning. Some maintenance items are filters, fluids like coolant, electric power steering system fluid, tire rotations, brake fluid and brake services. Some PHEV or HEV have filters for the hybrid battery air cooling system that need service and care.

Brakes are by far the most costly and highest failure I have experienced here at Sils Complete Auto Care Centre.  Due to the lack of usage with the electric motors slowing the car down, the brakes don’t get used. The squeezing devices called calipers develop corrosion and then fail to release properly leading to premature brake wear.  Alternatively, brake rotors develop significant rust and corrosion due to lack of use.  Bakes are easily resolved with proper care and maintenance.   We suggest full brake caliper service and offer an OEM Factory level  on car brake lathe service with Pro-Cut Brake Solution to solve the rotor issues.

 

There is so much more on electric vehicle to know and talk about, but this covers some basics.

The team here at Sils Complete Auto Care Centre is training in EV, BEV, PHEV, Hybrid, and Ice engine service, maintenance and repairs.

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