How to cool an electric car battery
What is a manufacturer to do about electric car batteries susceptibility to heat? As it turns out, the answer depends on what the warranty says, not so much on what the owner’s manual warns you not to do, Finley writes.
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Nissan claimed that they were “..the first and only manufacturer in the automotive industry to provide limited warranty coverage for battery capacity loss for electric vehicles.” It’s possible the Volt was left off that list because it’s a plug-in hybrid as opposed to being a fully electric vehicle, or they left it off because it isn’t clear what the Volt battery warranty covers. At first glance, the Volt warranty also appears to guarantee 70 percent of battery capacity at the end of the warranty period except it makes that claim in the section of the warranty for component defects related to materials or workmanship:Skip to next paragraph
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This Voltec warranty covers repairs to correct any Voltec component defect related to materials or workmanship occurring during the 8 year or 100,000 miles (160 000 kilometers) term for the following:
The list of components following the statement “component defect related to materials or workmanship”includes: High Voltage Wiring, Voltec Control Modules, E-Compressor, Traction Power Inverter Module, Accessory Power Module, On-Board Charger …and, uh oh, the Propulsion Battery.
But all electric cars come with a warranty that covers component defects related to materials or workmanship. What those manufacturers didn’t cover (until Nissan’s announcement) is battery capacity loss if, as the Volt chief engineer said, ” …you live in the Southwest, depending on how you use your car… “
By placing the propulsion battery in that list of components covered for defects related to materials and workmanship, GM has muddled the answer to the question of whether or not a Volt battery degraded because ” …you live in the Southwest, depending on how you use your car… ” is really covered for things like hot parking lots. Lawyers, where would we be without them?
The Volt warranty went into great detail about how they would fix or replace a battery …that is listed along with all of the other Voltec items covered for a defect related to materials or workmanship:
“Like all batteries, the amount of energy that the high voltage “ propulsion ” battery can store will decrease with time and miles driven. Depending on us e, the battery may degrade as little as 10% to as much as 30% of capacity over the warranty period. A dealer service technician will determine if the battery energy capacity (kWh storage) is within the proper limit, given the age and mileage of the vehicle. Typical tests can take up to 24 hours.
If possible, components will be repaired or replaced, and the original battery will be returned to the vehicle.
Replace (If Necessary)
Under warranty, the high voltage battery will be replaced with either a new or factory reconditioned high voltage battery with an energy capacity (kWh storage) level at or above that of the original battery prior to the failure. Your Volt battery warranty replacement may not return your vehicle as an “ as new ” condition, but it will make your Volt fully operational appropriate to its age and mileage.”
The Volt and Electric Ford Focus have an active battery thermal management system that cools the batteries in the same way that most car engines stay cool; by pumping antifreeze over the hot batteries to a radiator that is in turn cooled by a fan, however, the coolant pump and fan work only when the car is running. Not that it would do any good to leave the Volt running in a Tucson parking lot with a 140 degree surface temperature as some Volt enthusiasts discovered when investigating this issue: