As electric cars become mainstream, knowing the remaining battery life is an important factor in a vehicle’s value. The engine and transmission are major cost items in traditional cars. In the case of today’s electric vehicles (EVs), a battery is 30-40% of the cost.
Mileage traditionally determines the remaining life and therefore the value of a car or truck. But mileage alone isn’t the only factor. You must take into account the kilometers traveled in town compared to the highway and regular maintenance. Another factor: whether the vehicle was driven in the deserts of Arizona or in the snows of Minnesota. All of these play a role in determining a vehicle’s condition and, ultimately, its value.
Mileage alone is not the key to battery health
The same is true for electric vehicles. Mileage alone is not a good indication of the health of a battery. Considerations include the operating ambient temperature and the number of times a battery has been recharged (called cycles). There is also the type of load (direct current level 2 versus level 3).
Determining a battery’s condition goes beyond the more general key measurements of incoming and outgoing energy and comparing the range at full load. It must also be possible to measure the temperature, voltage, current, capacity and resistance of the battery cells.
Determining the remaining useful life of a battery has a significant impact on the continued use of a vehicle. The other option is to dispose of it, with its battery either reused for stationary use or recycled. It is here that a battery health score will become an important tool for consumers looking to buy, sell or trade in a used electric vehicle.
A new diagnostic tool
To this end, Cox Automotive Mobility (a sister division of Kelley Blue Book) recently acquired Spiers New Technologies. This company has developed software that assesses the condition and value of batteries in electric vehicles. Spiers’ patented ALFRED Battery Decision Platform provides a battery health score. In addition, it creates an audit trail of battery packs and modules.
So far, Spiers New Technologies maintains a database of over 22,000 electric vehicle battery packs, 134,000 modules and grades over one million NiMH (nickel metal hydride) cells. It is the largest such database in the world.
In addition to developing this battery diagnostic software, Spiers New Technologies repairs, remanufactures, remanufactures and reuses battery packs in hybrid and electric vehicles. Spiers provides safety analysis and monitoring of batteries removed from their original vehicles. The company can either update these packs for use in other vehicles or reuse them for non-automotive purposes.
Building consumer confidence
Cox Automotive Mobility created the Battery Health Score. Kelley Blue Book will use this tool to assess the value of electric vehicles, to build consumer confidence in new and used electric cars and trucks. According to a study by Cox Automotive, 83% of consumers who are not interested in electric vehicles are skeptical about the value and the lifespan of the battery.
“We believe that an independent third-party battery health score will be a critical catalyst for the adoption and growth of used electric vehicles, which will increase transparency and confidence in used electric vehicle transactions,” Lea said. Malloy, head of research and development at Cox Automotive Mobility.
Deploying the battery health score
This health report is currently part of Manheim’s Vehicle Condition Reports at certain auction locations – six locations with high volumes of EVs in California, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington. And there are plans to expand to more sites. Tests are underway with six customer manufacturers to collect measurements of used electric vehicle battery performance, such as state of charge and energy capacity. This data will form the basis of an overall battery health score ranging from 1.00 to 5.00.
Manheim compared vehicles with the same make and model and similar mileage data, some with and others without a battery health score. This initial research reveals that vehicles with a battery health score get around five times more views and bids than those without. Moreover, these vehicles sell for values up to 4.5% higher, according to data from Manheim.