EV Batteries

EV batteries: from start to finish

Unlike the combustion engines that put petrol and diesel vehicles in motion, electric vehicles operate with the power of lithium-ion batteries – and many of them.

Sharing technology with common devices like phones and computers but significantly scaled up, EV batteries use technology most of us are familiar with (or perhaps even use every day) – just bigger. But how are they made, and what are they made of?

In this blog, we’ll take a look at what it takes to make an electric car battery – from raw materials to the manufacturing process, as well as looking at how long they last and how they can be disposed of.

What are EV batteries made of?

EV batteries are comprised of a range of raw materials that require extraction and mining to obtain. It’s this process of extraction that makes these batteries expensive to make. Metals such as copper, aluminium and iron are commonly used in their creation, as well as precious metals such as nickel and manganese. Additionally, the elements of graphite and lithium are used in the making of EV batteries.

How are EV batteries made?

The process of building electric car batteries is a long one, and whilst it was once highly expensive, developments mean the cost of EV battery production is gradually coming down.

The aforementioned precious metals first need to be mined and then refined into pure compounds. This will help increase the longevity of the battery’s charge. With these materials, layers are formed creating the anode, cathode, and the dividing layer which is the electrolyte.

Many of these layers of precious metals are what make the batteries of electric vehicles so heavy and costly. As means are developed to conduct electric currents more efficiently, these batteries will require less of the more costly resources which will also have a positive effect on the weight of EV batteries too.

How long do EV batteries last?

Electric car batteries typically last around 15 to 20 years as of 2022. What this means in miles is the retention of charging-discharging capacity for 100,000 to 200,000 miles. Since average car ownership lasts up to 11.4 years, the 15+ year life expectancy of EV batteries in their vehicles is more than substantial, and they retain usability after this time period ends too.

Whilst an EV battery’s ability to power a vehicle will eventually come to an end, this doesn’t mean these power sources are rendered totally unusable. There are a number of great ‘second lease of life’ uses for old EV batteries.

What happens to old EV batteries?

When electric car batteries do eventually reach the end of their time powering their vehicle, there are a range of pathways it could be sent on and none of them need be a landfill. When electric vehicle batteries begin to lose their capacity, they may not be able to power vehicles, but the performance they do retain means there are many ways they can be repurposed.

If you want to give an EV battery a second lease of life, they can easily be used as battery storage systems, storing energy from solar panels or other renewable energy sources. Giving these batteries a second life alongside renewable energy is great for the environment for a number of reasons and this is why increasingly we are seeing EV manufacturers investing in schemes to ensure these useful batteries get put to good use.

Nissan and Toyota are two brands making investments into the repurposing of their EV batteries. Nissan is using ex-EV batteries as back up power for the Amsterdam Arena and Toyota is using their old batteries to power food warmers, fridges and more in Japanese shops.

Can you recycle EV batteries?

Whilst you can recycle EV batteries, unfortunately the process of EV battery recycling isn’t highly profitable nor is it simple. But whilst these two factors mean that there are developments still to be made in electric vehicle battery recycling, it’s important that recycling practices do go ahead.

As EVs continue to gain popularity and eventually take over combustion engine vehicles as the motor of choice, we are going to see the number of end-of-life EV batteries increase – and we can’t let them pile up in landfill. Similarly, the mining of new materials required to make new batteries is already having an impact on the environment that will only increase as these vehicles increase in popularity and accessibility.

Recycling the hard to source materials required to make EV batteries is going to be essential as we move towards a society that moves more in EVs than combustion engines, and to maintain the sustainability of this shift it’s important that further developments and investments are made in EV battery recycling.

Fuel Card Services EV Hub

If you are looking to electrify your fleet or have already introduced electric vehicles and are wanting valuable insight on matters such as charging infrastructure, funding support and government grants, and electric charge cards then the our Electric Vehicle Hub is the place.

There we are collating all the up-to-date info you need to stay informed and head of the curve with your electric fleet, electric fleet finance and more. If you need support choosing the right EV charge card of other fuel card for your fleet, then make an enquiry today.

Can electric HGVs compete?

Electric HGVs: can they compete?

There are an estimated 477,000 electric cars on UK roads today and a further 790,000 hybrid cars. We’re seeing more and more affordable electric vehicles and even more electric infrastructure to support this acceleration, but is it possible for these developments to reach the haulage industry? Are electric HGVs something we can expect to see more of?

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the hurdles faced by electric HGVs and heavy-duty vehicles, some of the companies working to develop them, and what other viable alternatives could help to increase the sustainability of the haulage industry.

Why is it hard to make electric trucks and HGVs?

When it comes to electrifying the haulage industry, the biggest difficulty is tackling the weight of heavy-duty vehicles. With HGVs weighing up to 18 tonnes, batteries that have been effectively developed for electric cars and vans are not powerful enough to move these heavy vehicles effectively, and upscaling the batteries adds further weight to these already heavy vehicles.

The long-haul journeys that many heavy-duty vehicles regularly undertake are also a hurdle for the creation of electric trucks and HGVs. We’re seeing the range of EVs reaching the 200-mile marker, but with long-haul truckers travelling as much as 700 miles in a day, this sort of range is simply not efficient and would require a number of time-consuming recharging stops.

Despite these difficulties, there are a number of businesses making waves with their electric truck and heavy-duty vehicles. Whilst still some way off creating heavy-duty EVs that can traverse 500+ miles on one charge, they are making a good start by bringing the mileage capacity we are seeing in smaller vehicles to HGVs.

Whilst EVs may not yet be a viable option for long haul journeys, these companies are making it possible for the movement of large quantities of goods in short-haul journeys to be made less impactful on the environment.

Tevva

Tevva is the UK truck manufacturer and technology company that’s accredited with the creation of Britain’s first 7.5 tonne electric truck, and they are supporting medium and heavy-duty urban freight and logistic operators to cut down on harmful emissions. Currently, the mileage on their fully electric truck is 110 miles making these a great means of increasing the sustainability of short-haul truck journeys.

Tevva recently rolled out a hydrogen electric model of their 7.5 tonne truck, boosting the mileage of the fully electric one from 110 miles to 272 miles. Taking just 10 minutes to refuel with hydrogen and with a 90% charge time of 5 hours, this model will be available from 2023.

You can read more about hydrogen vehicles here.

DAF

DAF has been manufacturing trucks for over 50 years and is another company at the forefront of electric HGV development in the UK and Europe. Stressing the importance of “efficient charging systems, robust electric motors, electric PTO options, and more” in the design process of their electric trucks, DAF has developed electric HGVs that offer a mileage of up to 310 miles.

Their trucks brag fast charging times with their biggest battery vehicles taking only 2 hours to reach 100% charge, giving these vehicles a more flexible range of applications, and limiting the time hindrances often associated with EV battery charging.

Are electric trucks and HGVs affordable?

With new technological developments often comes a price tag that isn’t widely accessible. The same applies to the electric HGVs we are seeing being developed. These impressive vehicles have the capacity to cut down emissions significantly but until they are competitively priced, their uptake is not likely to be high.

However, it is expected that electric trucks will become cost-competitive by 2030, a time frame in which we can also expect to see further developments for EVs, including increased battery capacity and mileage. Eventually, electric and hydrogen powered trucks may even overtake their combustion engine competitors as the cheaper option, a shift that would have great benefit for businesses economically and for sustainability.

Electric charge cards from Fuel Card Services

If you have introduced EVs into your fleet and are looking for a suitable alternative to traditional fuel cards that will suit your newly sustainable fleet, then take a look at our EV Hub. Not only can you browse our range of EV charge cards, but you can also find the latest insights on electric vehicles, EV news, and useful resources such as charge point locators.

If you could use some help choosing the right fuel card or charge card, get in touch with our team.

Electric vehicle servicing guide

Electric car servicing: a guide to EV servicing, maintenance & repairs

Generally speaking, electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain than their traditional fuel counterparts and this is simply because they benefit from having fewer moving parts. Fewer moving parts means less places that things can go wrong.

This is good news for those who have made or are looking to make the switch to EVs for both personal and fleet use, but all machines need some TLC from time to time. In this blog we’ll take a look at what sort of servicing and maintenance electric cars, vans and other vehicles will need, what this servicing looks like compared to traditional fuel vehicles, and what this servicing might cost.

Do EVs need servicing?

Electric vehicles still need servicing regularly, though how often your EV needs a trip to the garage will depend on the make and model.  Some might make the mistake of assuming that the reduced number of parts means that EVs don’t need regular servicing and can instead be repaired and maintained based on condition.

Whilst this is true for some models, most EVs will still require regular service to ensure that everything is running smoothly and as intended. Less parts don’t mean they don’t also need properly and routinely checking.

How often is an EV serviced?

A good rule-of-thumb is to service your EV as often as you might service a petrol or diesel car, so every 12 months. However, it’s worth checking your vehicle’s manufacturing guide, as this will help you to decide if your EV needs servicing more or less frequently.

What is involved in an EV service?

Whilst there are some similarities between traditional servicing and electric car servicing, there are also some key differences.

Battery

In an EV service, one of the first things that a technician will do with your EV is hook it up to a diagnostic computer which will then identify any battery faults and concerns or issues with the drivetrain. The battery has very few moving parts meaning that the likelihood of something going wrong here is fairly low. When problems are identified with the battery, however, they are often easy to fix and not very costly.

Cabling

Cabling is then visually checked to ensure no breaks or surface damage. Given that these cables are high voltage they are heavy-duty and built with a high level of protection. This means that damage isn’t common but is nonetheless not impossible. Checking this cabling can help to identify wear-and-tear or other damage that could develop into more complex issues.

Cooling

Coolant in EVs is much the same as that in combustion vehicles, meaning they need the same care and attention in an electric vehicle service. The coolant prevents the battery from overheating, so the coolant piping needs to be thoroughly checked for any possible leaks and topped up if needs be.

Other standard checks

Much like petrol and diesel vehicles servicing, an EV service will also see the vehicles checked for the health of brakes, suspension, and tyres. These components will see similar wear and tear across all types of vehicles as they are mostly impacted by external factors such as the conditions of the roads.

It’s important to note slight differences though, which will see EV owners replacing tyres somewhat more often as well as brake pads.

What are the average EV servicing costs?

The cost of your electric car service will depend on the make and model of your EV as well as where you choose to get it done. However, the cost of servicing your electric vehicle will almost always be lower than the cost of servicing combustion engine vehicles. There are less parts to check, and this makes for a quicker and thus cheaper servicing process.

Managing fleet servicing with MyService.Expert

For fleet managers, staying on top of servicing for your fleet can be a hefty task, especially when you have a mix of combustion and electric vehicles. MyService.Expert helps you to manage your fleet’s service schedule, and you’ll get access to pre-negotiated competitive rates.

Making it easier to book in and save money, MyService.Expert is an invaluable tool fleet operators can use to ensure that fleet vehicles always operate safely, for the wellbeing of your fleet and the company wallet.

If you’d like to learn more about this service, then register your interest here.

Last mile delivery electric vehicle

Last mile electric vans – why and how sustainable delivery is gaining traction

Since the coronavirus pandemic the public are shopping online more than ever, and this combined with business purchases mean an increasingly high number of deliveries made every day and a growing number of delivery vehicles on the road.

This increasing number of deliveries means more delivery vehicles on the road and all the emissions that come with them. In this blog we’ll take a look at this last leg of the shipping process, breaking down last mile delivery and how electric vans and other EVs could help increase the sustainability of the delivery costs and save money for fleets.

Last Mile Delivery

Last mile delivery refers to the last step in the creation and delivery process, where the product is transported to the customer. Not only is the last mile delivery a huge influencer of customer satisfaction but it is also the most costly step of the shipping process, both in terms of money and time.

This is because, compared to earlier steps in the shipping process that might see large quantities of a product shipped in bulk from one stop to the next, the last mile deliveries are more often comprised of more stops but a lower drop size.

In addition, the nature of last mile deliveries having to visit a variety of locations and often in suburban areas means that they are not very efficient on fuel consumption. Housing estates, cul-de-sacs and other suburban street set ups means a high fuel consumption compared to long haul trips that are spent largely on motorways and a-roads and at steady speeds.

Not only does this lower rate of fuel efficiency have a negative impact on fleet finances, but it is also detrimental to the environment, particularly since online shopping has increased so drastically since the coronavirus pandemic and the increase of home working.

So, what can be done to improve cost efficiency and reduce environmental impact of the last mile?

Why EVs are good for last mile deliveries

Electric vehicles have been growing in number in the UK with 530,000 battery-electric cars and 405,000 plug-in hybrid cars now on the roads. This also accounts for an increasing number of last mile delivery vehicles, which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for sustainable delivery.

Reduced running costs

With last mile delivery being the most costly leg of the delivery process, innovations that reduce spending are always welcome. Last mile delivery journeys are convoluted in comparison to long-haul trips, meaning they are more consumptive of fuel with more varied speeds and an increased amount of stopping and starting.

Electric vehicles are better suited for more inefficient driving like that in urban areas firstly because the cost is often lower to recharge EVs than to refill their combustion engine counterparts.

Regenerative braking is the next feature that makes these types of vehicles a great urban area and last mile vehicle.

What is regenerative braking?

Regenerative braking is the repurposing of all the kinetic energy otherwise lost when a moving vehicle brakes, putting that energy back into the battery. It takes the energy from the friction produced from the pressing together of the brake pads and brake discs that would usually be wasted in a combustion engine vehicle and reuses it, elevating an EVs mileage.

Vehicles that travel in a lot of urban areas, like most last mile electric vans and cars, will frequently be braking for junctions, roundabouts, and crossings. All of these are opportunities to add charge to the EV battery, providing extra mileage for the day’s deliveries.

Reduced mileage concerns

Whilst the range of EVs is ever increasing and we are seeing more and more long-range EVs on the market, last mile delivery will still benefit from being able to apply shorter range EVs to the task. Whilst we are more regularly seeing EVs with 200 miles range and more, this sort of mileage capability is not necessarily something last mile electric vans need.

Of course, there are some last mile delivery drivers that will be travelling longer distances in the course of a day, but they are likely to be those operating in more rural areas.

More sustainable

There is no understating the value of reducing emissions for any journey. With home deliveries set to add £20 billion to the UK economy by 2025, last mile deliveries need to step up to sustainable expectation to ensure this increase in online shopping has minimal connotations for the environment.

Electric delivery vehicles help to negate what could be harsh impact on the environment by providing the public and businesses with their goods with a significantly decreased carbon output. The CO2 saving of an electric vehicle compared to a petrol one will depend on the make of the car as well as where it is being driven; nonetheless, EVs still offer lower CO2 emissions than their combustion engine counterparts.

Wondering how to start transitioning your fleet of delivery vehicles to EVs? Check out our EV hub, where you’ll find a range of support from reducing your charging costs to help with setting up charging points.

hydrogen vehicles

Hydrogen vehicles: a rival for EVs?

As we collectively tackle the climate crisis, there is a real need for our transportation to reach higher standards of sustainability. The electric car has been growing both in popularity and accessibility in the last decade, and June of 2022 saw a 14% year-on-year increase in EV registrations. But is there any other sustainable means of getting from A to B?

Hydrogen vehicles have been cause for heated discussion in recent years, with the developing technology opening up possibilities and qualms. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how hydrogen vehicles work, how much traction they are gaining, and in what areas.

How do hydrogen cars work?

Hydrogen vehicles produce electricity by powering a fuel cell with hydrogen. What this means is a chemical reaction fuels the vehicle: hydrogen moves from the tank into the fuel cell, where it mixes with oxygen, creating H2O and generating the electricity that powers the vehicle’s motor.

Refilling a hydrogen vehicle looks much the same as refilling a combustion engine vehicle. You would attach the refuelling pipe to the vehicle and wait for it to fill up, which happens in as little as a few minutes (for hydrogen cars) giving it an edge of convenience over EVs.

How many hydrogen vehicles are on the roads?

Using hydrogen as an energy carrier is not a new idea, but the use of fuel cells for vehicles is something that has seen an acceleration in recent years. Because hydrogen vehicles are still relatively new, there are only around 60,000 of them in motion today and of that number only 300 are on UK roads.

Why aren’t there more hydrogen vehicles?

Technology for hydrogen fuel cells has been developing slowly over the years, particularly in comparison to electric vehicle batteries. The immediate reason for this is that hydrogen vehicles are more complex than their electric ‘rivals’, relying not only on the development of more practical technology but also on the introduction of infrastructure to support their use.

Unfortunately, despite offering similar sustainable qualities as electric vehicles and more mileage too, hydrogen cars and vehicles are currently quite impractical for mass adoption. Some of the limitations that hydrogen vehicles suffer from currently include:

  • Hydrogen is highly flammable – improper handling could cause serious accidents.
  • High pressure handling – compressing the gas is difficult and increases the risk of accident if handled incorrectly.
  • Staying renewable is expensive – the more affordable ways of producing hydrogen currently rely on large quantities of fossil fuels.
  • They are costly to build – they are yet to be as accessibly priced as EVs are becoming.

Nonetheless, if more progress is made in the coming years, we may see the limitations of hydrogen cars lessen as more cost and energy efficient ways of producing the vehicles become available. As this happens, the introduction of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure will also help make hydrogen vehicles a more viable option.

Heavy duty hydrogen vehicles

Whilst the use of hydrogen fuel cells for cars and similar passenger vehicles is not yet practical, hydrogen has been making waves in other areas. Hydrogen power has a high potential for HGVs and long-haul vehicles as a sustainable alternative. HGVs currently account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions putting them at high priority for vehicles that need sustainable alternatives. Unfortunately, EVs are yet to reach the range that’s needed by long-haul vehicles, with most only capable of around 200-300 miles maximum.

You can read more about heavy duty electric vehicles here.

JCB hydrogen engine

Whilst the use of hydrogen fuel cells for cars and similar passenger vehicles is not yet practical, hydrogen has been making waves in other areas. In the last few years, there have been a number of firsts for hydrogen powered plant machinery on construction sites. JCB announced the development of the first hydrogen powered excavator back in 2020 as part of their efforts to meet NetZero 2050.

Fuel Card Service EV Hub

Hydrogen shows real potential as an eco-conscious alternative to combustion engines for HGVs, but for most the move to EVs is a more accessible option. We are growing our EV hub, to offer a selection of EV charge cards, information on charge point locations, as well as a range of insights into the development of electric vehicles of all sizes.

If you’d like to learn more about the services and fuel cards we offer, get in touch with our team today.