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Electric Car Reliability

Will the new electric cars ( Volt, Leaf etc ) and associated engines be more reliable than gasoline powered equivalents? Will expected mileage lifetimes be in same range? Will maintenance required be more or less?

Well, it’s all speculation at this point, since none of them have gotten old enough to tell.

That said, the Volt will probably have similar reliability to a gas-engined car, since it’s a gas-engined car. The Leaf will probably be lower maintenance and higher reliability because electric motors are much less complex than gas motors. As long as you don’t burn them out, they tend to run a very long time.

Tune in 10 years from today and you’ll have your answer.

Electric motors are pretty simple, but the technology to make electric motors small, lightweight, and powerful is still evolving. The computers and electronics are more complicated than conventional cars and can mean more maintenance and/or repairs when “chips” get fried. Heat is the enemy of electric motors and components. High current loads means more heat. If the electric cars are designed well to handle heat they should be more reliable. But, that’s an “if” at this point.

Maintenance on an electric car, as in Leaf, should be less. The Volt has a gas motor which means oil changes and other items that mean more maintenance than the Leaf and comparable to the Prius and current hybrids on the market.

Prius turned out to be way more reliable than all the naysayers ever thought. It is also more complicated than a typical gasoline car.

I think it depends on who is making the vehicle.

My guess is GM and Nissan do not have as much cash to put into new technologies at a severe initial loss as Toyota does or did.

I don’t know if the comparison is apt, but my electric lawn equipment is a lot more reliable than my gasoline burning lawn equipment. There is no oil to change, no air filter to clean or replace, no spark plugs to replace, no fuel run to make, no fuel stabilizer to buy, no oil to mix with gasoline, etc. I still have an electric leaf blower my father purchased at a garage sale in about 1987, and it still works just fine.

If your electric car has an on-board generator, it should have the same reliability as the average generator, with oil to change, fuel to buy, etc.

Your electric car will have batteries to replace, tires, suspension and steering components, but an electric car should last 400,000 miles easily, even if you have to replace the generator and batteries every 200,000 miles or so.

The new electric cars use a Lithium-Ion battery. Figure a battery life of 600-700 charge-discharge cycles. (2, 3 years for most drivers) then Ka-Ching, replacing that battery will present a big expense that most motorists will not be ready for and will make the cost-per-mile to own and operate these vehicles still makes them a poor choice…Many will be leased, avoiding the battery replacement issue, but unless you an write off the least cost, it’s STILL very expensive transportation…

I think the answers to your questions are obvious

I thought the OP asked about reliability, not cost.

And your point is…?

A dead battery reduces the reliability of an electric car to zero and incurs a major cost at the same time…

[quote](2, 3 years for most drivers) then Ka-Ching,[quote]

Figures I’ve read say in the neighborhood of 150k - 200k miles…But you’re right it’s going to cost a lot of money. The Tesla battery cost is $10k.

We need to find OTHER battery sources…the problem with Lithium is it’s an element…thus you can’t manufacturer it. There’s a finite supply of it. Not sure how big that supply is, but it’s definitely finite…just like oil.

Caddyman, is the battery a “wearable” part, like brake pads, windshield wipers, and tires, or is there someone out there telling people it will last forever?

With all the hybrids on the roads, we are seeing battery packs last much longer than three years.

Where are you getting your figure of 600-700 discharge cycles?

Are those “discharge cycles” full discharges or partial discharges? How do partial discharges change your reliability forecasts?

I don’t think that the lack of abundance is the problem with lithium but the expense of manufacturing the batteries is, afterall, lithium based grease isn’t real expensive.
The element lithium was named after the Greek word for stone, lithos.

The Prius isn’t really an electric car but is a gasoline engine powered car that uses a large nickel-metal hydride battery for kinetic energy recovery braking and load leveling. The car is engineered to never completely charge the battery or completely discharge the battery, this is much less severe use than the deep cycling that EVs subject their batteries to.

The Prius and other hybrids are NOT a plug-in electric cars…It’s battery is NEVER allowed to approach full discharge like a pure electric cars battery must…If you limit battery discharge to say 50% of capacity, batteries last MUCH longer…

There are already reports of Nissan Lief’s being towed in, their batteries totally discharged, out of gas so to speak…In this service, owners will be lucky to get 600 cycles before replacement is required…Even if you can get a lithium-ion battery to give 1000 cycles, that’s only 3 years, the term of most leases…

That begs a question or two. If my electric car will go 60 miles, and my round trip commute is 30 miles or less, how long will my battery last? If my electric car will go 60 miles, my commute is 30 miles each way, and I am allowed to charge my battery at work, how long will my battery last?

The PBS show Nova did a show a few weeks ago on Energy. And one of the scientists said that storing energy in a battery is a waste. The BEST way to store energy is chemically. With Chemical storage there very little loss in the storing and recovery. Plus you can store it for ever…and you don’t have to worry about degradation of the storage device over time.

He was working on a cheap way of extracting hydrogen from water with electricity (actually solar). His idea is to use solar power to create the hydrogen you need to run fuel cell cars…or even ICE cars that run on hydrogen instead of gas…this will be done during the day while you’re at work. Then when you get home you just re-pressurize the hydrogen tank in your hydrogen car. Interesting concept…I hope it comes to fruition.

I know this is a different chemistry, but here’s life cycles vs depth of discharge for a gel-cell battery:

Hmmm… batteries store energy chemically.

Lithium-Ion batteries don?t use pure lithium and, everything is made up of elements. There already are predictions that the lithium compounds needed to meet global demands may soon be in short supply. Most of the world?s supply of usable lithium compounds is found in South America and China. Alternatives to Li-Ion batteries are being researched but Li-Ion is the best available at the moment.

The reliability of just about anything manufactured is a product of its design. You can be sure that manufacturers won?t design a 400K mi. electric motor for their cars. The majority of consumers won?t trade off performance and price for longevity.

If you check the Nissan Leaf website:
The prospects don?t look promising.

If, and it?s a big if, the battery, cost and life problems, can be solved an all electric car should cost less to run and maintain, providing the government doesn?t decide to tax the electricity used to charge the batteries.

I think he means storing it as a chemical fuel source, like hydrogen. You use energy that can’t be stored efficiently, like electricity, maybe even renewable electricity, to make hydrogen fuel, which can be stored indefinitely without capacity loss.