Just switched to an electric vehicle? Here are some suggested ways to upkeep your car.
One of the advantages of owning an electric vehicle (EV) is that it needs comparatively less maintenance than a regular car. With the simplicity of the electric motor, the number of parts that experience wear and tear narrows down significantly, making the EV car an idea choice for fuss-free commuting. But this isn’t to say that there are no maintenance issues facing an EV car.
The most important is, of course, the battery itself. EV cars use a nickel-metal-hydride, lithium-ion or similar battery type, and all batteries have a limited lifespan. These batteries lose their efficiency over time, losing its ability to hold a charge and shortening its driving range gradually. The good news is that most EV batteries have the capacity to last more than 160,000km, which is really decent.
However, should the battery die or not perform to task, do not attempt to fix it yourself. Go to an authorised workshop that services hybrid and EV cars. Remember that your car is literally dependent on its battery. A quick check on the sgCarMart or One Motoring website would reveal a fair number of EV workshops in Singapore that can assist you.
With the increasing popularity of EVs in Singapore, we can expect better aftersales service, with a wider and more varied network even from independent suppliers. For example, car companies such as Komoco Motors offer a 10-year 1-for-1 replacement battery pack. On top of that, their customers have the convenience of a free charger and free use of their charging stations. Tan Chong Motors offer the Nissan Leaf with an eight-year or 160,000km battery warranty. Luxury models such as the Jaguar I-Pace offer similar battery warranties, although Wearnes Automotive also honours the warranty if the battery drops below 70% state of health.
Tyre care may be common to all cars, but an EV exerts a lot more on the driven wheels than regular cars. This is because its battery pack is much heavier than regular cars, and the battery delivers torque instantaneously.
When possible, avoid strong acceleration, going into corners at higher than normal speed, and sudden and hard braking. Maintaining the correct tyre inflation pressure is also important. An underinflated tyre will increase the road resistance as more of the tyre area comes in contact with the road. If you are unsure of the correct tyre pressure, check your owner’s manual — the recommended PSI should be clearly stated there.
EV motors have the unique ability to act as both a motor as well as a generator. When you take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the EV motor slows the car down, which is similar to shifting down the gears in a normal car. This, in turn, also generates electricity back into the car battery, a process widely known as regenerative braking.
Regenerative braking only allows the car to coast to a stop, and has not replaced existing hydraulic brakes in an EV. You’ll still need the hydraulic brakes for emergency situations or braking from speed. Chances are, most drivers would still resort to conventional braking, which would lead to regular wear and tear on the brake pads and discs. Remember that EV cars are heavy, so hard braking can be extra damaging.
Drivers should anticipate traffic flow and maintain a safe following distance to reduce the tendency of hard braking. By doing so, wear and tear on the car’s braking system will be greatly reduced.
EVs have a thermal management system designed to keep the battery motor from overheating. Some EV manufacturers use a coolant that is circulated within the battery motor to keep the battery cool for optimal performance.
Overheating shortens the life of the battery; if it is damaged, it will be costly to replace. Do a coolant system flush at the manufacturer’s recommended interval if the system is not performing well. You don’t want your battery to catch fire — a possibility in our hot climate!
The way you drive is another major factor that affects the lifespan of your tyres. Try to avoid hard acceleration, rushing into corners, and sudden braking. Make sure you are also running at the right tyre pressure. If you drive often, look into a regular tyre alignment and rotation regimen.